I have several favorite parts of Homeschooling for College Credit that find myself pulling from time and again! Each month I’m sharing those with you – special sections that I hope help you with your journey. Today’s excerpt is from Chapter 8: Homeschool Exit Strategies
Degree Killers: Time, Money, and Socialization
The majority of Americans do not hold a college degree, though it doesn’t seem that way if you follow the media. The “non-degree holders” may have entered the workforce, started their own business, completed an apprenticeship, or entered the armed forces. Their job prospects vary wildly, but they do represent the majority of Americans. This chapter isn’t intended to replace thorough planning and college selection. There are, literally, thousands of books that tear apart the details of each American college. This book also isn’t going to battle out college rankings, fuss about endowments, research grants, big 10 football, or party atmosphere. Frankly, I’m of the opinion that the best college degree is the one that is completed.
College isn’t for everyone, but if it’s the path for your child, make sure they finish! When you hear parents say they want their child to get into college, you know by now that it’s much more important to get them out of college—with a degree. Roughly half of those who enroll in college will leave college without their degree. In addition to the financial burden this creates on a young person, it also creeps back up time and time again as they apply for jobs. Is it ethical to list an “almost” degree on a resume? No. A degree is either completed, or it’s not.
As colleagues climb the ranks, often adults become frustrated that they didn’t complete their degree and may return to college time and time again to do so. This isn’t an exception, it’s the rule. The majority of people will spend their lives in on-again, off-again credit-seeking. Most will never have anything to show for it. Having the right mindset is essential when you help your teen pick a college. Understanding the 3 biggest “degree killers” will help you anticipate them and plan to work around them.
Time is the number one degree killer. Most students languish for 2, 4, or 6+ years working on their first degree until they drop out. Why? Start with a few remedial courses, add in a few prerequisites, and take less than 15 credits per semester; you’ve just added 2 more years to your 4-year degree! Factor in earning a living, car payments, marriage, and children, and you’ve got the typical frustrated twenty-something college student. Most people don’t have the stamina or endurance to complete an entire degree as a full-time student, and even if they do, the cost of attending college for additional years is daunting. As life is happening, frustrations set in and the student slows down or drops out. You already know how to beat Killer Time! Since homeschooling for college credit will allow your teen to shave time off the front end of their degree immediately, you must choose a college that will reward your child’s hard work. Previous chapters show you how to earn 15, 30, 60, or more credit in high school. Walking in with ¼ or ½ of a degree completed increases the likelihood that your child will finish on time or faster than average. Choose a college with a generous CLEP/AP/DSST policy. Even without a 100% transfer, reducing any time required will be beneficial.
Money is less of a problem than it used to be, but even with the increased borrowing limits, some students will still hit the borrowing maximum before they’ve finished their degree. When you appreciate that a $100 CLEP exam yields the same credit as a $400 community college course, or a $4,000 private college course, it changes how you look at college costs. It is unnecessary to graduate from college with tens of thousands in student loan debt. Maxing out on your college’s CLEP/AP/DSST testing allowance cuts college costs dramatically. One caution: before finalizing your decision, compare the college’s CLEP/AP/DSST policy against the cost of the remaining credit. A college that accepts all of your child’s credit isn’t as affordable if the remaining credits cost $100,000 to earn! You want to find a balance between a generous credit policy and affordable tuition. If you do have a college fund or need to borrow money, save those dollars for the 300 and 400 level college credit (junior and senior year). The first two years of college credit are the easiest to pay for, it’s the last two years that can be more expensive.
The socialization trap is the ultimate irony for a homeschool parent. For years we’ve answered the “what about socialization?” question, yet socialization is precisely the reason many students drop out or flunk out of college. They’ve had too much socialization! Testing out or dual enrollment allows your teen to bypass much of the “freshman experience” and in some cases, a whole lot more. If or when your child enters college, or even graduate school, many of the freshmen have “socialized” their way right out of college and cleared the way for the serious students.
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