Homeschoolers Taking College Courses (Under Construction)
Many homeschooling parents consider college courses for their children
as they move into their mid-teen years as a way to provide educational
opportunities that may be difficult to do at home or in a homeschool
cooperative. Other reasons may be to give their children exposure to
the classroom environment, allow them to build objective credentials
and build the responsibility to deal with the daily demands of college
We've gone through this process with one of our children and it has
been quite the experience. We've made several mistakes along the way
and have learned a lot about the process from our experiences and in
talking to others that have children that have taken college courses
while homeschooling on the New Hampshire and Home-Ed mailing lists. I
haven't run into any books or web pages dedicated to this topic so I
decided to put up a web page that may be helpful to others that are
interested in their children taking college courses. If you find other
pages dealing with the same topic, please feel free to email me the
My approach to the page will be to provide our experiences with links
to sections that provide more information on the topics.
We started by talking to the admissions staff at a local suburban
university. We could either go the Continuing Education route (evening
classes for adults) or apply to the day school for dual-enrollment
status. The day school required more paperwork and some testing and
there was a good candidate for a course in the evening school that
summer so we went with that. He took a few other courses at U Mass
Lowell later that summer and we learned that there were great
differences in quality, cost and target audiences in the different
schools in universities and between colleges and universities. More
detail in the section Types of Colleges,
Universities and Programs.
We had to fill out an application and the form to take the course and
then pick up the textbook. Textbooks can easily cost $100 and up and I
did make sure that our son noted the costs of books along with the
tuition costs. At home, and on the rides to and from classes, I would
provide him with hints and tips that I learned while attending college
that would explain how and why things worked the way that they did at
college along with how he should behave. Before classes, we would
provide him with a charged cell phone, a bottle of water and a snack.
We'd remind him to bring his homework in and do the readings. The class
was three and a half hours long with a break and many students had a
bite to eat in a nearby cafe. See the section Class Preparation for some of
our thoughts on this subject.
This class was a very good experience for him. The age range for the
class was mid-twenties to mid-forties (excluding our son) and they were
all in the workforce from what I could tell. The class size was pretty
small too. And the professor used modern business tools like PowerPoint
presentations to teach the class. There were in-class labs and he could
see that some of the other students struggled with the course at times.
I explained to him that these students worked full-time and that they
didn't have as much time to prepare as he did. He had experience in the
course material going back five years too. I suggested that he try not
to talk too much in the class as he tends to answer questions thrown
out in classes and could monopolize the answering for questions. I also
spoke to him about classroom ettiquette as the environment was new to
him and did find some web pages talking about the subject. See the
section Classroom Etiquette
for some links and my comments.
After finishing that first class, we looked for something that he could
take for the rest of the summer and found two course at U Mass Lowell.
One was online and quite difficult and the other was at the campus. The
suburban university that he attended before was a relatively
uncomplicated affair as it was nearby, safe and didn't present any
parking issues. U Mass Lowell is located in a big city with the
potential safety issues of a big city. We found that the campus wasn't
in the downtown area, though, and the place seemed reasonably safe. See
the section on Safety for my
comments and links on safety issues.
U Mass Lowell had more administrative requirements than his first
course though. He came under the category of dual-enrollment because of
his age which required us to funish a letter from a guidance counsellor
vouching for his ability to do college-level work and for his
behavioural maturity. Of course the local guidance counsellor wouldn't
have any knowledge of his grades (we don't do grades and the guidance
office wouldn't have seen them had we turned them in). The Registrar's
office said that a letter from the Superintendent's office would
suffice so we called up the Assistant Superintendent's office and she
had a letter ready for me to pick up that afternoon.
We got him into the first class which he spent about 40 hours a week
on. It was a tough class and he learned a lot even though it was an
online class. It had a lot of students in it from around the US along
with a few foreign students. I was impressed with the course and the
We signed him up for a second course halfway through the online course
in a relatively easy math course that met in the evenings on campus. I
would drive him there and back after work. While he was in class, I
would work from the library using my laptop. They had internet hookups
so I could VPN into work. He had a cell phone so that he could call me
if the class finished up early.
This course was rediculously easy for a college level class and it was
then that I decided that the quality and difficulty of available
courses ranged widely from university to university and even within a
university in course variation and between professors teaching the same
course. Which meant that I would have to do more research into classes
that we would consider for our son. See the topic Researching Courses for my
approach to research prospective courses.
I did a fair amount of research looking for courses for our son in the
fall. I looked at colleges and universities within 30 minutes and
didn't find anything satisfactory. I think that this would have been
about 8 schools. I looked at U Mass Lowell and we found a few courses
that looked interesting but one of them was in the day school. To get
him into a day-school class, I had to talk to their admissions staff (I
only had to talk to the registrar for the other classes which were
handled out of the Continuing Education division). My timing wasn't the
best as this was in August and the admissions staff was dealing with
incoming student issues so they were quite busy. They looked at his
transcripts and a few homeschooling evaluations that I provided (they
asked for any kind of educational records) and gave him the okay to
take the desired course. See the Admissions
section for comments on the application process.
It met for four days a week for 50 minutes which meant a major
logistical headache for me. See the section Logistics
for more details on the logistics issues that I had to deal with along
with other issues that you might face in getting your child to and from
That course had so much homework assigned that I put together a
spreadsheet for him to keep track of assignments, grades, due-dates,
etc. The class was in the morning which meant that he had to get up
earlier than he was used to and prepare for class. The class was almost
lecture-hall style with over 60 students in the class and he had to
deal with a large class and getting relatively little individual
attention. But he got an eyeful as to what a difficult college course
was like and the variety of kids that you can run into in a big class.
The class had a lot of labwork too. I think that it was a great
learning experience overall for him educationally and otherwise. But
his organizational skills were still not very good. I have some ideas
to aid organization in my Productivity
This summer (2006) he took another class at U Mass Lowell which he was
somewhat worried about. I reassured him that he would do fine in the
class but he was greatly concerned about the grade that he would get.
I've read that other homeschooled children in college have expressed
similar concerns which is a bit odd as many homeschools don't use
He finished up the work for the class by the midpoint of the class by
doing all of the readings and homework early. He asked me for help here
and there on things that he didn't fully understand from the textbook
and I generally either explained the material from the text or provided
him with reading from similar textbooks. After finishing up, he was
considerably more relaxed in the class. He also greatly improved his
organizational skills with this course as we didn't do as much for him
before the class. This due to a demanding project at work which reduced
the level of attention that I could provide for him in getting ready
for class in the morning. My take is that it can take a few courses to
get the hang of things for some children. Others may pick it up more
Towards the end of this course, I had to prepare my 2005 Federal Income
Tax return. Earlier in 2006, I received two 1098-T forms in the mail
from the two universities that he attended. These looked like 1099
forms but I really didn't know what to do with them. They just reported
his tuition payments. You can see what they look like at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1098t.pdf.
One of them had some information attached to it and I noticed the words
credit and deduction so I had a look at the education section of my tax
software. I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were elegible for
a deduction of up to $4,000 for the college courses. See the section on
Tax Credits and Deductions for
my findings on credits and deductions.
That brings us up to nearly where we are now and I need a place to
conveniently stop so we'll do that now and get into the details. I have
several other topics that I'd like to cover but that will have to wait.
Potential future topics: benefits of taking college courses,
college-branded gifts as rewards, medical forms, socialization with
other college students, what to do when the course is too difficult,
dealing with weather issues, links to articles on auditing courses.
Types of Colleges,
Universities and Programs
The main types of colleges and universities that I've run into
or read about are:
rest of this section will go over the types along with the information
or personal experiences that we have with the types. In some cases, I
will just provide links to other web pages that provide experiences of
- Community Colleges
- Colleges and universities that offer some online classes
- Online colleges and universities that mainly offer classes
- Correspondance Colleges
generally serve the local community providing courses that can lead to
two-year degrees that generally cost less than colleges and
universities. In many cases, credits are transferrable to four-year
colleges and universities so that substantial savings can be had by
going to two years of community college and then transferring into a
Community Colleges tend to offer a lot of courses which I'd consider at
the high-school level. I guess that this is reasonable as they serve a
rather broad spectrum of the population and not just mainly young
adults. I've been impressed with the one community college course that
our son has taken in that the class was taught at a university level.
And it's likely that he'll take another soon.
have heard a lot of good things about homeschoolers taking Community
College courses and our son had a good experience with his one class at
Middlesex Community College.
If you intend to
transfer in Community College credits to a four-year school, you should
ensure that the four-year school will accept the courses for transfer
credits. Some four-year schools provide a matrix of what will transfer
in from schools that they get a lot of students from.
It did take more work than I expected to get our son enrolled in a
class. He had to take an AccuPlacer test (math, reading comprehension,
writing) and I had to provide transcripts for prior courses.
There is a really nice description of what Commuity Colleges are at Wikipedia
entry for Community College.
Colleges and Universities that offer some online classes
The attraction of online courses at established bricks-and-morter
colleges and universities is that your child can get transcripts from
well-regarded institutions that should have reasonable standards in
their course offerings. We've had a little experience in this area
which may be helpful to others. As always, I welcome comments from
others that have gone through this process.
The three major issues with online courses that we've run into are:
Some online courses are very relaxed where they assume that the student
is doing the work and learning. I spoke to a professor at a university
and asked him about their requirements for prerequisites and he said
that they didn't ask for them as if you didn't have them, there was no
way you could do the course. Another university using the same online
materials wanted homeschool or college transcripts along with
letter from his current professor on how he was doing in the class.
- Student documentation. You either need a transcript,
similar to a
high-school or college transcript and/or some testing. In some cases
you may need a letter from your local school district as the student
comes under the category of dual-enrollment or other non-traditional.
- Administrative processing. Dealing with a
remotely in matters of enrollment, paying for classes, viewing grades,
buying textbooks and getting detailed information about the course can
be a lot more work than one would expect. Many colleges have different
computer systems for different functions and you made need to setup
five or more accounts to deal with the many systems that can be used
for college adminstration. You may be confused by the way
colleges/universities do things along with how long it can take to get
something done. This is a common issue for regular students too.
- Getting the materials set up for the course and setting up
contacts. In general, you'll need a computer with some minimal
specifications, broadband internet access and maybe some software. Our
son has taken a course where Mathematica is required and this cost
about $140 in the student edition. If you're not a full-time student,
then you have to rent this for about $30/year. Students may have to get
textbooks or online textbooks or download software from the web or a
college/university website. A mentor may be assigned with some level of
required communication (like at least one email per week). And some
courses require proctoring examinations which may require a setup with
your local library, school district or home school proctoring service.
As with all courses that you're contemplating for your child, I
recommend contacting the professsor, reviewing the syllabus, asking
about the textbook and materals that will be used for the course and
checking out the materials if possible. I like to use Amazon.com's
reviews for textbooks and materials. And I highly recommend posting a
question about the prospective course in a homeschooling mailing list
or bulletin board as you might find someone with firsthand experience
with the course.
Other concerns that can affect online courses:
- Some online courses may be brand new and may be using
materials that might not work that well with your child. And some
courses may use very old materials that seem crude in our modern
GUI-based world. We've run into both cases and both cases required some
- Online courses can be more flexible than classroom courses.
think that most online courses use the same schedule that the classroom
courses use but there are some out there that use different schedules.
NetMath allows you to start at any time and gives you a fixed amount of
time to finish a course. EPGY charges you by the quarter and you can
start at any time but will charge for another quarter if it takes
longer than that to finish a course. If you're taking a course that
isn't aligned with the regular schedule, then it may be harder to get
services from mentors and administrative staff at certain times of the
year due to holidays, exams, vacations, etc.
- Communication is far different from a classroom
can be only with a mentor up to communication with the whole classroom
via chat or even multimedia.
- If you need licensed software for the course, decide where
want to put the license. Putting it on a desktop computer ties you down
unless you can setup remote access to the desktop. Laptops are far more
convenient as they provide the freedom to work on the course from many
More to come....
Homeschooling experiences can vary between little or no
experience to years of classroom experience and attending a college
class for the first time can present additional issues to resolve as
the expectation is that the student is an adult. So some support for
the student in their first class can be helpful. In our son's first
college class, we provided a backpack with a notebook, slash folder,
dinner, bottle of water, charged cell phone, pens and pencils and made
sure that he brought his wallet. We started off by dropping him off and
picking him up at his classroom and gradually worked outward from
there. For some of his later classes, we dropped him off and picked him
up at the road in front of the building.
For the first class, we
would also remind him to do his homework, remind him to bring it to
class and asked him to take care of his papers so that they wouldn't
We suggested that he try to exchange email
addresses with other students so that he had a way to get class
information if he missed a class or lost an assignment.
kept an eye on the weather for the day so that he had appropriate
clothes for the day. He's much better at doing that himself now,
especially since we always keep a computer on in standby mode so that
he can get the forecast in a few seconds.
Other issues are going
to bed earlier in the evening so that he'd get enough sleep overnight.
Our kids like to wake up between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM which isn't
practical for morning classes.
Before attending the first
session, other things to take care of are student identification cards,
parking stickers, purchasing calculators if needed, purchasing
textbooks, setting up their college email account, getting a copy of
the school calendar, taking care of bills and fees, etc.
Homeschoolers unaccustomed to attending classes regularly may be
unfamiliar with what the common expectations of classroom behaviour are
so I've provided a few links to sites that make suggestions in this
area. The suggestions are aimed at all students whether they were home
schooled or went to public or private schools.
- suite101 article What
is Proper College Classroom Etiqueet? by Flora Brown covers
respect, arriving on time, dominating discussion, cell phones, eating
and drinking, and a few other subjects.
- The Richard Stockton College of NJ Literature Program put
together a 41 page booklet on Classroom Etiquette which covers many
topics of etiquette but also explains why we should behave or not
behave in a particular way. It also provides suggestions to take care
of certain things ahead of time so that they don't become a problem
later in the class when recovery might be difficult or impossible. The
book is in the form of an Adobe Acrobat PDF file so you will need a
reader or converter that can handle the format. The
Literature Program Classroom Etiquette Booklet
Classroom Etiquette Illustrated Edition provides a humorous
approach to classroom etiquette issues.
College courses can cost several thousands of dollars so most parents
would want to spend college money wisely. Different parents and their
children will want different things from college classes so parents and
their children should determine what they want from college classes and
do their research accordingly.
When you look at a flyer or a
paper or online catalog, you get a little glimpse of what the course is
about but the difficulty, depth, breadth and prerequisites can vary
widely. The quality and style of the professor can vary widely too. And
the style of the class can vary. You might have a class that meets four
times a week with one recitation class. This kind of class typically
has many students in a lecture-style format with a meeting with a
teachers assistant once a week in small groups.
would be a professor that has a quiz at the beginning of every class
covering the material from the previous class compared to a professor
that prefers a conversational style to gauge how students are doing in
class. And some professors may ask for an hour or two of homework per
week and others an hour to three hours per class.
We did make
error along the way and my current approach is to get the class
description and then the syllabus if it is available. Then I will try
to check out the professor (this can be difficult to do) and contact
the professor by phone or email. Questions that I typically ask are:
are other common college issues that students may have with a professor
in the areas of religion, politics and other areas that I don't care to
cover here but which I have seen covered in news magazines. This is an
issue for regular college students as well as homeschooling students.
- How many hours of homework are assigned per class (for me,
more is better)?
- What is the name of the text used? I will then read the
Amazon reviews of the text.
the class considered difficult? This is a question that can put a
professor on the spot as it is like asking for a kind of
self-evaluation where the asker doesn't provide what kind of answer
they are looking for.
- Elaboration of prerequisites if the student hasn't formally
I am looking for a general course in a particular deparment but am not
sure of which to choose, I may call the department and ask to speak to
someone that could provide a recommendation given the circumstances.
This has worked well in the past for one course in particular that our
son took where a department staff member provided some excellent advice
on course choices.
The issue of logistics for
homeschoolers attending college courses (in person) are similar to to
parents with children attending private school or public school or
college except for the duration of the school day. In a city or
suburban setting, a child might use public transportation or walk or
ride a bicycle to classes and back. In a setting where distances are
greater and public transportation isn't available, then private vehicle
may be an option. And there may even be an option where the child has a
temporary residence near the college with a relative or friend or with
In the cases where transportation is involved, parents need to deal
with getting the child from where they live or work to classes and back
again in a reliable fashion. If public transportation is used, then
there has to be slack time built into the schedule for delays. And
money has to be budgeted for bus or train fares. If a child walks or
bicycles, alternative arrangements may have to be made for inclement
Some other options that may be available is where you have multiple
homeschoolers taking a class or classes that meet at the same time
where a pool of children can take public or private transportation
And of course there are safety issues related to transportation and
I'll just provide a few links in this area.
Center for injury Prevention and Control International Walk to School
Week - October 3-7, 2005
- child pedestrian safety page.
If a private vehicle is
used, then parking may be an issue. Parking can be a serious issue in
suburban and city campuses. There may be a fee for a parking
college parking lots, some kind of parking lot validation system or
just the requirement to get a parking pass. Campus parking lots can
fill up very quickly in the morning and you can wind up in an overflow
lot a mile away from classes. This is something that should be looked
at before classes start as it
can be a general headache area for schools, and, subsequently students.
College parking regulations should be studied with further questions
directed to campus police who usually implement parking policy.
Students may have classes
that occur near meal times or even have classes around mealtimes so
arrangements may need to be made for a place for the student to have a
meal, whether it is prepared at home or purchased on or near campus.
These issues already exist for those in college or those in public and
private schools and handling them can be a matter of using common
sense. But we may forget about a few things under pressure (and the
admissions process can be quite stress-filled). Parents taking care of
the logistics issues can help the child to focus on the course if the
child doesn't need to overly worry about transportation and logistics
Schools can have different kinds of programs that homeschoolers can
courses in and admissions requirements can vary widely. Continuing Ed
and summer programs tend to require less in terms of paperwork compared
to day classes. Some schools will let you take a course or two without
much in the way of paperwork and testing while others will require
evidence that the student can realistically handle the work.
What I've found is that homeschoolers taking courses is usually handled
via the dual-enrollment process and that this requires some combination
My sample size is fairly small so there may be others that should be on
this list. Feel free to drop me a note if you have run into admissions
requirements that you think should be on this list.
- A letter from the student's guidance counsellor or
superintendent's office indicating that the child is capable of
handling the material and that the child will not present behavioural
problems. The last part can be implicit.
- Testing to ensure that the student has the prerequisite
background to take the course. This can mean a math test for the
student that wants to take a math or science class or a more
comprehensive written or computer-based test for general admissions to
their program even though only a specific class is of interest. Note
that there can be a charge for testing.
- A high-school transcript or homeschooling record. Or
college transcripts if the child has taken courses at other colleges.
- An informal meeting to convince the admissions department
that the child can handle the class.
- A statement that the child and/or parents are financially
responsible for tuition.
- Immunization records. Some schools require these,
especially for full-time enrollment. Some waive it for part-time
- An application form.
- Disability information. This may not be required but it
might be of benefit to the student if this is an issue.
My experience is that getting through the admissions process is a
fairly confusing and hectic process and that it helps to prepare well
before the target semester to get the requirements taken care of.
Requirements may require visits or phone calls to the campus, the local
school district and other services that might be involved. And it may
take skills of persuasion or negotiation to meet a requirement or to
get a requirement waived. Admissions departments get swamped near the
beginning of the fall semester and that has to be taken into
consideration in the process with time constraints.
Unexpected costs may crop up or admissions staff may be on vacation.
A class may be close to capacity while you're trying to get through the
admissions process trying to get a slot in a particular class that is
To start the process, I'd recommend a visit to the admissions
department (sometimes it's called Recruiting) with an appointment with
the parent and student to get an idea of what the school offers and
what is required for admissions. This meeting is where the school tries
to sell itself to the parent and the student and where the student
tries to sell himself to the school. It helps to pay careful attention
to what the admissions representative says as they may say things that
you think aren't a real issue but which may turn out to be real issues.
They typically talk about things that can snag the admissions process.
From there, you can see what they have to offer to determine if it's
the right place for your child or if you wish to look elsewhere.
If it looks like it may be a good fit, then you can go through the
process of meeting the requirements for admission.
[write a paragraph about each of the points above]
Young students taking college classes for the first time have to get
used to many things in the classroom but one thing that can be
difficult to adjust to is the amount of work assigned. Some classes
assign a huge amount of homework where you need to setup a system for
recording when you received an assignment, when it is due, when you
passed it in and when it was returned along with the grade. This can be
done with a paper system where you have a folder for things that
haven't been done and a folder for things that have been done along
with information on assignments on the front or back of the slash
folder. Another approach would be to use a spreadsheet which has the
advantage of making it easier to compute your expected grade for the
If all of the assignments aren't online or provided for at the
beginning of the class, then it is very important to have systems in
place to avoid losing assignments. This can be any kind of physical
system using paper, folder or backpack systems or could be an
electronic system where documents are scanned into a laptop or desktop
system with some kind of backup system. Losing assignments can result
in time wasted for getting another copy from the professor or
contacting another student for the assignment. An approach that I
recommend is to take pictures of assignments with a digital camera so
that the camera memory is the backup if the assignment paper is lost.
It can allow you do work on homework on a laptop computer without
carrying around all of your class papers.
Students may need to adjust their daily routines to accomadate college
classes as some of them can meet at times that would be considered very
early for some homeschoolers. And some classes that are very hard or
which have a lot of homework can force a homeschooler to make choices
about what they can reasonably do in a day and sacrifice some things
that they like to do for fun.
A ssytem that has worked reasonably well for our son is a spiral-bound
notebook (standard-size paper) for taking notes and assignments in
class and for doing homework in and a looseleaf binder for storing
homework assignments in if there is a lot of paper distributed and
returned. Dividers within the looseleaf binder can be helpful so that
paper can be divided into categories. And a three-hole punch is useful
to make it easy to store papers in the folder. Classes where there
isn't a lot of paper can get by with slash folders. Slash folders are
easier to put papers into and are lighter and more compact than
There are paper systems that can be used for student organization
including the Franklin Planner and simple calender books.
There are a lot of options for improving productivity using electronic
devices today. Examples are Portable Digital Assistants, laptop
computers, desktop computers, web services, watches and even some
portable music players. The small portable devices like PDAs, watches
and music playes can offer calendar support in either a standalone way
or via a datalink to a personal computer. These can be used to display
appointments and when things are due but small screens can only display
so much information. PDAs allow data entry, alarm functionality and
backup and synchronization with a personal computer where you can print
a hardcopy of your schedule and list of items coming due.
I have a Garmin PDA which I used to use for my scheduling but I find
myself using Google Calender now for my scheduling as it is easier to
enter appointment data via a computer keyboard compared to a PDA
stylus. I can also link location mapping information, web links and a
lengthy log for things that require saving history information. The
application is generally available wherever I have net access. I don't
have a way to synchronize my PDA with Google Calendar to get
information when I'm on the road and am looking for a solution to that.
Web services are becoming very reliable now but I generally like to
have a backup system in case I don't have web access or a web service
Personal computers can be used for scheduling and task tracking with
local applications but some kind of backup system should be in place
should something happen to the personal computer.
Tax Credits and
While preparing my taxes for 2005, I ran into two tax credits and one
deduction related to taking college classes. Highlights of the credits
and deductions are are listed below for your reference along with links
to IRS publications on the topics. Please do not construe anything in
this webpage as legal or tax advice. Note that the tax benefits decline
or are unavailable as your adjusted gross income rises.
- Hope Credit
- I think
that this credit isn't that useful for homeschoolers taking college
courses as it is meant to be applied to the first two years of college
and requires at least a half-time course load. The limit for the Hope
Credit is $1,500 for qualified education expenses paid for each
eligible student. Details on this credit can be found at IRS:
Learning Credit -
This credit doesn't have the limit on the first two years of college
expenses and the benefit is higher but the benefit applies to all
students and is not per student like the Hope Credit. The student also
does not need to be pursuing a degree for courses. See IRS:
Lifetime Learning Credit for details.
- Tuition and
- this is the one we claimed and it's a deduction so that the actual
dollar benefit depends on your tax bracket. The limit is $4,000 and
there's an modified adjusted gross income limit of $160,000 for the
deduction. See IRS:
Tuition and Fees Deduction for
more information. This deduction expired at the end of 2005 but was
renewed for 2006 late in December 2006. I'm not sure what happened with
the forms because the forms were printed before the deduction was
renewed so I guess you need to be on the lookout for the deduction if
you can claim it. I did get a tax form from one of our son's schools as
a verifcation of his college expenses.
Crime is a fact of life in an open society and in the open environment
that our colleges and universities provide. Homeschooling parents
considering college classes for thier children should be concerned with
regular personal safety issues but also have the issue of a younger
student that might not have the experience to deal with problems or
avoid them in the first place.
Our approach with our son was to drop him off and pick him up at the
classroom for several classes at the beginning of the semester. After
that, I dropped him off and picked him up at the building where I would
either meet him in the lobby or pick him up on the sidewalk outside the
building. We provided him with an inexpensive pay-as-you-go cellphone
I thought that the area where he has taken classes to be safe for
evening or day classes to do this. He's a pretty big guy which reduced
the level of my worry. I would be more inclined to drop off
and pick up at the classroom with our daughter if and when she starts
taking college courses. Especially with a city campus.
I have read of homeschooled children that take care of their own
transportation to college classes via public transportation or private
vehicle. This is a calculus that has to be decided by parents and
children based on a variety of safety and maturity factors which are
beyond the scope of this article to discuss.
I would recommend reading the safety literature provided by prospective
colleges and universities along with available security statistics.
I'll close with two links to take a look at regarding campus safety.
These are really geared for students living at campus but do provide
some general points for commuters as well.
Safe on Campus (eCampusTours.com)
Benefits of College Courses
I thought that I would try to
come up with a list of benefits to homeschoolers taking college courses
so that parents could see if it is worth the cost. There's no doubt
that there is a cost to taking college courses in terms of time and
- Students get exposure to the college environment
and its requirements making the transition to full-time college,
possibly away from home, easier.
- Some credits may be transferrable into their full-time
want to know whether or not an applicant can handle college work and
they typically rely on school grades and College Board tests to make
that determination. Doing well on college courses clearly demonstrates
the ability to handle college work on an application for a full-time
- Students and parents are better prepared to select a
full-time college. The student learns more about the college
environment and the limitations of the college that he attends and can
therefore be more selective in pikcing a full-time program.
learn organization skills. It's better to learn how to get organized
when you're taking a course or two than it is when you're buried with
work in a full-time program.
- Students learn the cost of higher education including the
costs of textbooks.
allows the student to see if she is prepared for college and if she
needs to shore up a few weak or neglected before applying for full-time
Links to other pages on homeschoolers taking college courses
College Classes, a short article by Wes Beach from the
HomeSchool Association of California.
College Dual Enrollment on the process with a
specific example of a particular student from the A to Z Home's Cool
College Classes in High School, a conversation between
parents and adminstrators on the case of a specific student.
for High School Students, an excerpt from Homeschooling: The Teen Years
by Cafi Cohen.
Enrollment: A Two-for-One Deal!,
an article at the Home School Legal Defense Association which lists
some additional requirements that some schools may have and presents
the benefits of dual enrollment on the high school record.
Articles involving homeschoolers taking college courses
Home-schoolers face college hurdles an article that has
information on taking courses before college age as a way to establish
credentials for applying to college.
This section is for stuff that doesn't fall into the neat categories
above but which I thought that I would toss in at the end for my own
reference and that may be possibly useful for others.
Part of the formal process for full-time admission is the application
form which will typically include an essay. Certainly for colleges and
universities that are selective.
The essay can say a lot about the applicant in terms of their
motivation for going to college, a glimpse of their life growing up,
how they handle adversity and something about their personality.
Of course with selective schools, we have parents and students and
service providers that try to game the system to their advantage. There
are admissions counsellors that can provide advice for getting into
selective schools that charge eye-popping amounts for their services.
And looking around the web, I found many services and informative web
pages on college admissions essays. By-the-way, the reason I was
looking for essays was to improve the writing skills of our son and,
down the road, of our daughter. She already loves to write but needs a
little more formalism.
The thing about college essays is that they are done at home with noone
watching. So a student could just buy an essay to send in with their
application. Or just describe their life a little and have someone else
write it. I suspect that there are websites that offer these kinds of
service in a "gray" way. I just put this out as I found some websites
that do provide admissions essays as a service for those looking to
write better essays. These services, of course, are free. And I'll
provide a few of them here in case an essay is needed as part of the
Updated May 26,
2008. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with comments on the web page. Note that I read this email account
about once a month so that it may take a while for me to respond.