Archive for May, 2017

Online College Degrees—Pray About it!

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The best approach to going to college is to present a terrific SAT/ACT score and offer a great transcript. The SAT/ACT is by far, without a doubt, the most important credential that you bring to college admission and college scholarship determination.  Absolutely.  Can I make myself any clearer!  In an age when schools are so different—schools even in the same zip code—when an A somewhere would be a C in another place—colleges MUST rely on the ACT/SAT score to determine admission. It has been that way for a while. It will be that way for years to come, if not forever.

Take the SAT and/or ACT junior year.  And then apply during your senior year. That is the ticket!

One question that I’m often asked, is, what about an online degree? Should I do that? No, you shouldn’t.

I want to define terms a little bit first. An online degree is a college degree of sorts, a sort of Bachelor of Arts, a sort of Bachelor of Science degree.  A sort of sort of. It purports to be like any other degree (never is a claim that it is better than a four year, resident degree!). But it is not. I know of no employer who would prefer an online degree employee over a four year college degree from a recognized university.  Do you? Would you hire an online degree graduate from Liberty University before you would hire a resident graduate from Liberty University?

Online college students stay at home and take all course work via the computer.  The course work plus CLEP credit equals an online degree. Occasionally they spend a week or two on site, but most of the work is at home.

This is different from taking some course work online.  A lot of people do that.  A lot of people get AP or CLEP credit. But most do not complete a degree that way. Taking a few courses is fine. There’s no question that you may take one, two or three courses online—or get some CLEP/AP Credit–but you should know that many colleges—the best colleges—will not give you credit for any online courses. Usually they’re basic courses that are essentially the same everywhere. Most general online course, or CLEEP credits, are not in your major area, and, they might save you some money.

Or not. Remember if you have a high ACT/SAT score the university/college that admits you will give you a nice financial package. Let them pay for your education. Besides, as I said, colleges that I attended will not give you credit for online courses. Period. No credit at all.

As I advised, don’t do it. I have some real questions about an online degree. You should too. If you don’t, call a few employers and ask them if they prefer online degree employees or employees who went to Vanderbilt or the University of Texas in Austin. Ask them if they would rather have an online degree graduate from an online program or a four year, resident graduate.

Another reason I have questions about an online degree, is that the best graduate schools, will not admit online degree students. And what good is a degree, online, if you can’t use it, to go where God is calling you?

Another thing is, online degrees are terribly expensive! I know one online program that costs about $15,000 and you have nothing when you finish. If you don’t believe me ask people who have online degrees.  Ask them if they were able to go to graduate school.  Ask them if their degree is viewed the same way as a degree from the University of North Carolina or Messiah College. Ask them if they would do the same thing again.

You are hit both ways. You are ineligible for merit scholarships, ineligible for need based scholarships, ineligible for scholarships period. But you have a huge bill.

It no doubt would be cheaper for you to go to a four-year orthodox college on scholarship. And that will happen to you, if you have a high SAT and ACT score. You may, think you’re saving money by doing an online program, but if a regular college is, giving you a huge scholarship, it’s really cheaper then why not do that?

There are a lot of convention speakers who are vilifying big name schools and talking about how expensive they are. Well, did you know that homeschoolers receive more financial aid as a population group at Harvard and Stanford than any other population group?

$15,000 is a lot of money. You could spend $15,000+ and then need to pay for 2-3 more years in another college (if this college will accept your CLEP credits) because all you have is a bunch of CLEP credits (which are much less respected than AP credits).

If you really feel God is telling you to get an Online Degree, why don’t you do it on your own? Really, the entire Online Programs can easily be replicated by your own efforts.  Online agencies (except colleges—colleges do help you sign up for online courses) do nothing more than what you could do for yourself—FREE.  I could pay someone to get my social security for me. I see Ads on television all the time.  But why would I?  For a little bit of effort I could write and get one for myself FREE.  Don’t pay someone $15,000 for something that could cost you nothing if you would do it yourself!

You can also lose your health insurance if you are not a resident student.  That could cost another $400 a month for some students.

An online “degree” might cost $15,000. Texas A & M costs $7,500/year tuition. The University of North Carolina $5922.  You might spend $15,000 only to find that you need to spend another $28,000 because you do not really have a college degree!  Unfortunately, too, you might have taken yourself out of the running for scholarships because typically four year students do not give scholarships to transfer students.

How to Choose a Curriculum

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Venerable pioneers, those of you who have faded photographs of jean jumpers and paint chipped Flexible Flyer red wagons, do you remember those days? We had three—just three—curricula choices or we wrote our own. Incidentally, that is really why I wrote my first curricula—I did not like what was out there.

Those days, however, are over. Attend any home school convention and you will be inundated with flashy curricula.  They are everywhere. Hundreds of choices. In fact, success in homeschool teaching these days is determined more by what we don’t buy that what we buy! Effective homeschoolers have to learn to say no, or, we will have what I have in my home: a couple of bookcases of unopened curricula that “we thought” we would use or “it looked so nice.”  Right.

So how does one choose curricula? I would use the following checklist:

  • ·        Inquiry Based (Does the curriculum invite the student to engage in critical thinking, student-centered activities?)
  • ·        Age Appropriate (Does the curriculum reflect a vocabulary and sentence structure appropriate to your student(s)?)
  • ·        Colorful and Interesting (Does the curriculum appear in column? Are there pictures? Graphs? Is if printed on sturdy materials?)
  • ·        Answer Key (Does the curriculum provide an answer key?)
  • ·        Propagandistic (Does the curriculum reflect objective scholarship?)
  • ·        Need Based (Does the curriculum meet your needs?  If your child is going to college, is it preparing him to go?).
  • ·        Authorship (Check the credentials of the author of your curriculum).
  • ·        Organization (Is the curriculum organized in a user-friendly manner?)

These are exciting and important days in which we live. Never have a more critical generation—homeschooled or otherwise—grown up in America. It is important that all homeschool parents take seriously its duty of providing the best curricula to educate their children!

Our Young People Bring Possibility

Monday, May 1st, 2017

A transplanted Arkansas boy who now lives in the often-frigid Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, I like my apple cider to be steaming and my house to be about 78 degrees. An anthracite coal-burning stove does the job, but there is one problem with coal heat, and it occurs about three o’clock every morning: the fire dies down to the point where the house is dangerously cold.

Is the home school movement growing cold? I think not.

Old Testament Levitical priests had a duty to tend the fire in the tent of meeting, to keep it roaring and bright. The fire on the altar, the eternal flame on which sacrifices were offered to God, was not to go out. Other tasks could be deferred. But the fire on the altar was never to go out. (Leviticus 6:8–13)

Through the centuries believers have served well as fire tenders. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever . . .(Deuteronomy 29:29). This is a gathered inheritance kept alive by men and women of faith. In our own home school history the honor belongs to Hulsey, Harris, Ferris, and countless others.

Truth is restated; more than that, the reader will observe that saints throughout the ages have built on the faith of those who preceded them. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: that is true, and truth is the same, forever. Revelation of truth, though, is forever becoming better understood, we hope. The previous generation of believers passes the torch to us, and we pass it to the next, and so on. Each generation builds on the illumination of the previous generation. We trust that the world is better for it.

On my farm grows an oak tree that began its life 30 years ago full of potential, and it was beautiful in its own right. Today it is so much more beautiful than it was thirty years ago. It is the same tree, but oh, how much larger and fuller are its branches and fruits! Diurnally I remove acorns and leaves deposited on my truck. It is the same tree, still full of potential, but producing more fruit than ever. A vicious blight or uncaring gypsy moth may kill it someday, but I already see a new oak seedling growing in its redolent shadow.

I look at this new generation of home schoolers and I know that we are not going to run out of fuel. The Holy Spirit is still here to encourage, to inspire every generation. There is, I have no doubt, a new C. S. Lewis or Oswald Chambers alive today.

Fear is dissipated by promises; evil is overcome by good. A gathered inheritance. We again recognize that the secret things belong “to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29). A gathered inheritance!

Theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “The lightning illuminates all and then leaves it again in darkness. So faith in God grasps humanity, and we respond in ecstasy. And the darkness is never again the same, . . . but it is still the darkness.”

All of God’s saints—past, present, and future—are flashes of lightning in the sky. And the darkness is never the same again because the light reveals what life can be in Jesus Christ. “Memory allows possibility,” theologian Walter Brueggemann writes. A gathered inheritance. We bring memory. Our young people bring possibility.