Monday, June 3, 2019

Community College as a Choice for Higher Ed

Two years of reduced tuition or no tuition = huge savings in acquiring a degree. Choosing to homeschool our children included the decision for us to remain a one income family. As a result we have had fewer financial resources to fund the college aspirations of our kids.


If this sounds like the beginning of a plug for Community Colleges, well, it is. While I continue to have some respect for the reputations of prestigious institutions of higher learning, (I do have a degree from Tufts, after all) that respect has honestly, dwindled over time. As we began to look at the options for our own college bound children, the practical and financial became a major issue in our decisions. Community College tuition in Illinois is 1/3 of the cost of even the more affordable public four year school options in state and easily 1/10 of the cost of some of the private four year institutions in our area. Two year full time study of general education requirements are also available tuition free with the required ACT or SAT test score. That's halfway done with a degree with no tuition. When looking at those financials, the local stay at home for two year opportunities became the obvious one for us as a family.



In Illinois, where we live, I have seen the wonderful supportive resources that are available through a variety of programs at Illinois Community Colleges. The resources are there to assist each and every student to be successful at the community college level and beyond. A student simply has to be willing to utilize the support available to them.

We have known homeschooling families that have taken advantage of the dual credit options enrolling high school students to receive both high school and college credit simultaneously for completing a community college class. These programs can speed the higher ed process as well as preparing a student for a smoother transition to college.


Community Colleges tend to have smaller class sizes. Even in freshman general education classes the student to instructor ratio is low compared to the huge auditorium filled classes that often encountered at big universities. Smaller class size means more available and approachable instructors. All of this makes it easier to become accustomed to attending college level classes.
For life long homeschooling students this makes for an easier transition to classroom learning in general. Community colleges in our area have pre-established transfer programs allowing associate degree earning students to transition to a four year institution with ease and guidance.

I have heard critical comments from student's peers made to community college students about their attending a community college. I remember similar sentiments expressed way back when I was a high school student myself. (Way back in the day!)


Fortunately, for homeschoolers those kind of misinformed comments may have less weight on their decisions. Many homeschooling students are usually less concerned about the opinions of their peers or even the opinions of the general population. The decision about where to begin a higher level education will include a multitude of factors. Family resources, field of study, near home, away from home, student maturity level, how much to take on moving into adult responsibilities while also attending college level classes, all of this plus has been on our a family's list of considerations.

The homeschooling parents I have met, regardless of their approach to home schooling, laid back, un-schooling, rigorous academics, arts based, etc. all have tended to have high expectations for their children. Perhaps we want to see proof of the rightness of our choice to homeschool. Like all parents we want to see our children be successful adults in whatever field the chose to work in.

Having high expectations for our young people's performance is a gift to them but it doesn't require over- priced- out of reach- mega debt- name brand- higher education to accomplish goals and live dreams!



Non homeschooling parents I meet often praise me with wows and kudos for homeschooling and comment that it must be hard to do. While of course there were difficult moments (all parents/families have some). They can't imagine how hard it must be to teach their own children. My usual response is that it isn't really as hard as they are imagining it. It is not like re-creating a classroom. In my opinion, that would be very hard and also, in my opinion, not necessarily conducive to as much learning. Barring any specific learning disabilities, most children, most humans of any age for that matter, are really learning machines, we are made to learn and given the proper supportive and rich environment we will.

Given a sensory rich and supportive environment children, teens, young adults and adults will learn. In a nurturing environment children will learn something! And new college students can learn in the a community college environment with a more palatable price tag and still become high achieving productive adults.


Always working to be and encourage life long learners!


7 comments:

  1. We are trying to talk our teen into looking at community college. I went to one for 1 1/2 years to get most of my basic classes out of the way and then transferred. Saved me so much money and I got a good, solid education.

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    1. Hi Kristen. I hope you convince her to look at the option. We have been happy with the academic standards and the smaller class sizes. Both of our sons were eligible for scholarships to complete their degrees based on transferring from a community college. Saving money on tuition costs has also opened other doors and will be appreciated when they start their next chapter in life with very little student debt.

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  2. My daughter is enrolled at the community college for the fall and we think it's such a wise choice! She can live at home and her tuition will be free or very low cost, and as you say she'll be halfway to her degree without incurring debt. So many advantages!

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    1. Yes! And staying local allows them to make the adjustment step by step instead of all at once. It has worked well for our sons. All the best to your daughter!

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  3. We are hoping to utilize the free dual enrollment program here in a couple of years when my son is old enough.

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    1. Dual enrollment is an excellent option, especially for those who want to move on more quickly than the norm. Enjoy the adventure!

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