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College After Homeschooling

Christian College or Public? And How Do You Pay For It?

Nancy, a homeschooling mom, related the following situation to visitors on HomeschoolChristian.com's message boards. "Our daughter has two years of high school left, so we are looking at college. Our first thought and desire was to have her go to a Christian College, but went into total shock and heart failure when I saw the tuition- at least $20,000 to $25,000 A year. Then I look at the partying, drinking, and liberal teachings of most state universities/community colleges, and certainly don't like that either. Can you offer any thoughts on this choice?"

DebMcTexas responds:

My son went to a Christian college for three semesters. You are correct; it is expensive! We are not rich, so we relied on financial aid. In fact, we kept saying 'that won't work, we can't afford that' to the financial aid officer. They kept digging and finding. About half of his school was paid for with grants and small scholarships (one for his SAT score -which wasn't high- and one for basketball.) The rest was student loans.

We told him if he made good grades, A's and B's, we would cover that part of the student loan. We would split C's and he was responsible for anything lower than that.

My other thought is this. If your daughter wants to get into trouble and hang around with the wrong friends, she can do that at a Christian college, too. My son chose very poorly. He hung around with the slackers and druggies and finally got kicked out of school. He is back home now finding out the joys of the world of work. Sigh. Parenting is harder when they are older.

My husband and I met at a Christian college. We wanted the same opportunity for our sons to meet Christian women. Pray. If God wants your daughter at a school, doors will open as you get closer.

By the way, we have a friend who attends Pensacola. He doesn't like the dress code or strict rules (His parents do!) but he is getting a good education for a lot less than other Christian colleges.

Briva responds:

We actually found the college looking for a finishing school for our daughter. Abeka is affiliated with the academy and the Pensacola College. We toured both.

We live in a college town, Univ of TX, so the contrast was very great. My husband was very impressed to walk among 'normal' people for a change. If you have the opportunity to go down to one of their College Days tours, do try. It is open to 11-12th graders interested in college. They are homeschool friendly and family-friendly, too. It runs like an independent Baptist church/school, so no drinking, dancing, and other rules. Young ladies wear skirts or dresses only. My jeans/sneakers teen didn't mind at all. She got to go shopping for clothes!

One drawback that some parents questioned was that they are not accredited, so they don't take state or federal money, but according to my husband, they are accredited by a higher power.

Sarah responds:

Well, I know that there are some good Christian colleges out there, but not all of them are Christ like. Many have Co Ed dorms now just like the secular schools. Many teach creation evolution also. there ae some reasonably priced Christian colleges like Pensacola Christian College. If you can have your dd tested as dyslexic, there are colleges that give special scholarships to dyslexics. Theses are things to check out when considering a college.

There are some excellent scholarships out there if you're really looking. My oldest daughters could both go to Belhaven Christian College in Jackson, MI, for free tuition because of SAT scores. Room and Board is less than 6,000. My oldest prefers to go to Houghton Christian college. Tuition will be less expensive because she is receiving $16,000 in scholarships. It is forty-five minutes away, so she will commute after freshman year (unless she is able to become an RA.) This still leaves us with a lot to come up with, but we believe God will honor our desire for little or no debt.

I have attended classes as an adult at a secular community college, and I was disgusted with all but a couple of subjects -- either incredibly shallow teaching, or total paganism. I still would not rule out some of that, depending on the child, but the constant beating a Christian student takes from professors at your typical state college is rough. It's not just a matter of is the child strong enough in his/her faith to "handle" life on a secular campus; it's will they just stress over constant battering of their faith? Also, dorm life can be a real challenge; a friend of ours had a daughter whose roomate was a lesbian. It was a real stumbling block to her faith, and in fact, she quit going to church for years.

Marcelyn responds:

I vote for local junior college if possible. It allows freedom, academics, smaller classes usually, and all from the safety net of home. We have absolutely no regrets for starting our kids out at a local junior college. They got most, or all or their basics taken under our watchful eye. They didn't have to face the social situations quite the same way as they would have if they'd been away at a big school and we were able to discuss with them what they were learning when it came up (the anti-christian bias, evolution, etc... although by the time they headed to college they were well prepared in that area and it was not an issue at all)

Our son went to the Junior College with a 21 hr load most semesters, worked a 35 hr week, and kept very busy with a college campus ministry. He then went off to a state school stronger than ever in his faith. When you send them to a local school you don't encourage them to take off and live the party life, but they are still in the home and maintaining your standards and they see how they can have a fun college experience, gain the education and still have the Christian values.

On the flip side I've seen some kids go off the Christian schools and come back convinced that it is all legalism and a bunch of hokey.... so sending them to a Christian school isn't a guarantee that it will all turn out okay. There are a lot of Christian schools that are Christian in name, and not much else. And there are some good ones too, that hold true to Biblical standards etc. But the price is the killer for me in that case.

So we started out local. cost effective, under our watchful eye, and a first step of independence.

DebMcTexas responds:

In hindsight, the local junior college would have been the correct step for our oldest. Learning to do college work, grounded in our home life and church, still in touch with his high school friends...less expensive, too.

It might have kept us from the path we are on today. But we made that decision because it was a small Christian school and they wanted him to play basketball. Who really could have predicted all that happened to him and the choices he made?

Mary Leggewie responds:

Cal Baptist here in Riverside, CA is only $15,000 or so. If you're a CA resident and your assets aren't big, you can qualify for a CalGrant, which pays something like $9,000.

If you insist on going "away" for college..... We live within an hour's drive of several community colleges AND state universities. My kids will not be living on campus. In fact, I'm so disgusted with what's happening in upper education, both Christian and non-Christian that I'm not so sure we'll "go to college." Much can be done online now. I commuted to college, carried 15-22 units every semester, AND worked 15 hours per week or so, and survived to tell about it AND get good grades.

I checked out some of the online coursework for our local JCs and much of it is classes like sociology, psychology, and stuff that tends to have "problem" professors. Probably better to be home for that and not have to endure humanistic lectures.

Myra S. responds:

With my 2nd leaving this fall for college, I can tell you that I am somewhat concerned with the money! My daughter is in her 3rd year at Wheaton and my son will be heading to Greenville. My son really would have liked to attend Wheaton but they didn't have the major he feels God is calling him to so he started looking elsewhere. The money is tough but I must say that God hasn't failed us yet, even when it meant finding loans. I know every household/financial situation is different so alot depends on your personal situation and that is certainly between you and God.

The advice I was always given was go to a "spiritually grounded" Christian college OR a non-Christian (for lack of a better word) college that has strong Christian groups on campus. The kids need to really work at getting connected into a Christian support group as early as possible. Going to a Christian vs. non-Christian college doesn't make anyone more or less of a Christian.

Our daughter is close to home, about 20 min. away, and I am thrilled. Before she even knew that Wheaton had her major she told us that was where she felt God wanted her. This was after years of telling us she would NEVER go there. Turns out there were only six Christian colleges in the country that had her major and fortunately Wheaton was one of them. Our son has searched high and low for schools with his chosen major, and there aren't very many with that one either. He feels, after talking with everyone he can about it that Greenville has the major that best suits his calling. He wasn't exactly crazy about Greenville when we visited but he is certain that God wants him to study in this particular area. We've always encouraged him to follow God's leading so that's what he is determined to do. While Wheaton doesn't give much financial help, there will be more from Greenville.

I don't want to be in debt forever but I do want my kids to follow God's calling and for my two that meant a Christian college because of what they feel God is calling them to do. If one of my kids had felt called into computer science it may have been a whole different ball game. I still give my daughter a little grief over the fact that she was offered a full ride(tuition, room and board plus books) and a stipend to attend a state school and major in math...all from her test scores but turned it down. She NEVER had any desire to study math so this was all pretty funny. It was actually confirmation for ever beginning hsing because we took her out of school due to the fact he 2nd grade math teacher told her she wasn't smart enough to learn her multiplication tables...HELLO!!! You have to weigh who has the best major, the atmosphere of campus life, as well as the maturoty of your child.

It's not an easy decision but with much prayerful consideration I'm sure the decision will be made clear in time. Don't fret too much because wherever they go to college God can still use them for great and mighty things.

Just as a side note, my husband went to a Private NON-CHRISTIAN College and I went to a Christian college but we met at church in the college class. So much for going to a Christian college to find a husband.

Cathe responds:

We are going to send our son to a private Christian college this fall!!! EEEEEKKKK!!!!!!!!! He is going to Taylor University in Indiana - not quite as conservative as Pensacola but much more conservative than most "Christian" schools. We need an accredited program.

Our son didn't have great test scores either - very mediocre, in fact. Good enough to get in but not good enough for scholarships. The tuition and board is $25,000, but they have offered him a financial aid package of $15,000 for this first year. That includes work study and loans. So we have to come up with the other $10K. He should be able to earn about half of it working this summer. The rest I am working on. Mostly I teach quiltmaking classes and sell quilts and garments on ebay!

We are not opposed to debt for college. I think it is one of the few debts that pays for itself. It's really an investment. Sure, it would be nice if we could avoid it, but we can't.

He probably won't get four years there, because in two years, his younger brother will be going to college! So he may need to spend the last two years at a much cheaper institution.

SO many reasons for a private Christian school, starting with one we use for homeschooling now:

Blessed is he who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, sit in the seat of scoffers, or stand in the way of sinners. (Rough rendering of Psalms 1:1)

And the part mentioned about meeting Christian girls... valid point! Our son has never made a lot of friends, because we have moved so much. I am looking forward to this opportunity for him to have a large Christian fellowship. A good conservative school is a stepping stone between dependency and being independent. The school is about 6 hours from here - close enough to come home easily but not TOO close.

Frankly, this kid is a man and *I* need him to move on to the next stage in his life. God didn't intend for women to be teaching their 18 year old sons!!!!! I am sure I will miss him terribly, eventually.

Not all scholarships are based on test scores. Community service is a really good thing to do, too.

AND FINALLY.... call me sexist, I can handle it.... but if I had a girl, I would probably do it all differently. If you want her to have a college education, you might look into local schools or online courses. If she has a career goal, find out exactly what she will need to pursue that goal. I do believe firmly in excellent education for women... I DON'T believe in sending them out unprotected into the world. It's a good thing I don't have any girls.

Marcelyn responds:

Having paid for two children's college through graduation and one child's through two years I know about paying for college.

Of course there are scholarships, financial packages and loans etc but one thing I see parents miss time and time again is having the kids pay for part or all of school themselves. We did pay for tuition for our children but they were required to have A's and B's (which was also part of their scholarship so it wasn't just mom and dad saying get good grades! lol), they both got one C in their college career and we were gracious and forgiving, working with them to identify what the problem was, where they could improve etc.... (one was just slacking off, one was senioritis) BUT all of our children had to have jobs in college. They had less free time sure, but less time to get in trouble, less time to get bored. They all worked at least 25 hours a week at regular jobs. My son worked as an assistant manager for a Holiday Inn (40 hrs a week at that job + school) while in Jr. College and then at the four year school he had different jobs finally settling on a computer job with the college that gave him 25 hrs. a week. His final year he worked full time, a 40 hr week as a full time employee and finished up school on the side. My daughter worked as an assist. manager for a video store and logged in about 30 hrs a week plus did all her music performances... she was a very busy girl. The third one worked as a customer service rep for Target (you know, the folks that take the abuse when someone returns a product half used and broken). She worked about 20 hrs a week while doing a full load with schoolwork.

Believe me, our kids appreciated their education. They not only studied, they worked hard to earn it too. I saw a lot of kids in school with them whose parents just laid out dollar after dollar and didn't require their kids to work and those kids got into trouble, spent way too much money, had no concept of how much their parents were giving up for them.... it was so sad. When our kids moved into an apartment on their own my son and daughter decided to share an apartment. We helped them with rent but they had to pay all their own utilities and food. They also paid for all their gas and car expenses and any entertainment was on them. The result was they were thrifty with their money, learned to have cheap good fun, found good Christian friends who like to play games and stayed out of trouble and out of debt.

So while looking at how to fun college, don't forget the job your child can get to help out. In my book it is all part of the education.

Teri responds:

Also, I am not of the thinking that young ladies should work outside of the home but that opens another can of worms!

Marcelyn responds:

Can't say for sure about this.... I haven't formed a definitive opinion on this, I only know what is/was best for my daughters. I do have personal experience though with a young lady who was in our basketball group. This girl graduated from school and had great expectations... she was going on to school to get some training and then wanted to head to Latvia to live with her relatives and do mission work. She has not been allowed to go to college because her parents don't see the reason why she would need any more education and she is not allowed to get a job because girls can't work outside the home. So she stays at home and cleans the house and picks up after her brothers and is introduced to all the eligible young men in the church. And she is miserable. She will even tell you that. She can say she is content because she is obedient to her parents but she will also tell you that it is a very unhappy contentment (doesn't make sense to me, but that's how she puts it). To me this is a case of "father's don't exasperate your children".... but then it's not my daughter so I don't say anything and keep my thoughts to myself.