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Why College is NOT the Goal of Homeschooling

As homeschooling parents we want our children to succeed, and there is a part of us that is unsure we are doing it right. Even if we have had older kids go to college and get jobs, something creates doubt. Recognizing that our children are all different, we wonder if what worked for one will work for others.

Courtesy Flickr/Creative Commons | Queen's College
Courtesy Flickr/Creative Commons | Queen’s College

So as we talk to homeschool parents who are struggling with high school subjects, especially math, we hear worry about college. Will they get accepted? Can they get any financial help? What college is the best?

Leaves me wondering, since when did college become the goal?

Education is not Owned by Universities

I am a firm believer in higher education. My primary university faculty role is working with professionals who are looking to make the next step and need education to make it happen. But, what is confusing is how the university system has become the de facto standard of higher education. It is not. Consider these other ways to get an education:

  • Internships
  • Reading books
  • Searching the web
  • Taking courses on specific subjects (such as how to earn a living blogging)
  • Watching educational videos
  • Talking to experts in the field

Education is everywhere and with easy access.

What is the goal? Take the Long View

Instead of working to help our kids get into college, we should instead be helping them to find their calling and prosper. Consider the normal path to college these days. Johnny is a high school student who is good in math and science and enjoys doing math and science. So he enters college as a chemistry major. But, has Johnny ever talked to a chemist? Has he ever seen what they do? or, did all of his interest in chemistry come from watching CSI? Does he have any idea what he is getting into?

Or the other approach where Sally enters college with no real idea of what to do. She just knows she needs an education. But why? To what end? To make the college wealthier and her and her parents poorer?

If your child is interested in a field, bypass the college and make sure they are talking to people who are making a living doing what they want to do. Get the real story.

For example, our oldest daughter wanted to be in the FBI. Her attraction was largely based on movies and television shows. So for clarity, we got her to meet a local FBI agent. The agent was a woman. She drove up in the same exact kind of car my daughter was driving. The agent was a mom, a wife, and an agent. When our daughter came back she explained how neat it was to meet a real FBI agent and talk to her. She was thrilled. But, our daughter no longer wanted to be in the FBI. While she still admired them and thought it was a neat job, the fantasy allure was removed. This agent was a normal person with a normal life, not some larger than life character as seen on TV.

The Decision is Not Permanent

I see a ton of high school and college kids stuck on indecision. The reason they cannot decide is that they are worried about how the decision will impact the next 30 years of their life. They listen to well meaning parents and other adults and they see how many of us have made decisions and stuck with them – with many hating their jobs. A recent Gallup Poll shows over 70% of American workers disengaged with their work. In other words, they are bored and do not like their job. So, no wonder kids are undecided and worried. They are not worried about the work they will do, they are worried that they too will find work they do not enjoy.

While some decisions are permanent, education is not. I work with people of all ages who have had a wonderful career so far, but now are looking to make a change. Some changes are radical, others are minor shifts of focus or industry. I myself have made a few of these career changes along the way.

We need to help communicate to our kids that today we can do almost anything at almost any time. People have left corporate jobs to become missionaries. A missionary friend of mine is now working as a high paid industry consultant. I have seen engineers become medical doctors and lawyers. And, I have seen many people become professional bloggers and podcasters! (If you really want to get way out there!)


So while looking at colleges and educational paths, take care to look beyond the university and ask “But what do I want to do to serve others and who is doing it now?”

For help in this explore, check out the free ebook How to find Your Calling on my site