As we approach a new millennium, it's clear that many changes are just around the corner. And one area in which change will be especially welcome is the good ol' college experience.
Yes, friends and neighbors, I'm talking about the quarter million per kid that you will have to pay for an Ivy League education just a few years hence . . . if nothing changes. The years of required courses in political correctness. The agony of required courses that are not available when needed. The useless waste of time - basically high school all over again - that has now become the first two years of college.
After years of educational freedom, homeschoolers are bound to feel unsettled by the rigid schedules, arbitrary course requirements, and unnecessary obstacles to education that have become part of the American college years. Too, many homeschooled high-school graduates are only 16 or 15 years old. Kids and parents alike may feel uneasy at the thought of sending a kid this age across the country to live on his or her own in a co-ed dorm in the land of keg parties and date rape.
The good news is that, in the providence of the Lord, college is changing just in time.
Distance Education Explosion
State universities always offered some correspondence courses, for the benefit of state residents who couldn't travel to the university campus. But in the past few years, distance education has exploded. Now just about every college and university in the USA offers at least some courses via mail or the Internet. Some now offer entire degree programs. Whether you're looking for an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, or master's degree, there's a good chance you can find an accredited institution that offers that degree via distance education. For Ph.D.s the pickings are slimmer, but a few programs do offer at least some of their Ph.D.-level courses online.
By now you're saying, "This is a Mary Pride column, so where are the resources? How do I find these programs?" Not to worry, gentle reader. Here are the books you need:
How to Get a College Degree Via the Internet (ISBN: 0-7615-1370-1, Prima Publishing, currently available through Amazon.com) and Barron's Guide to Distance Learning (ISBN: 0-7641-0725-9, $18.95 plus shipping, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, (800) 645-3476, Barron's Educational Series, Inc). The Barron's book is the complete guide, with 537 oversized pages containing up-to-date listings of colleges and indexes that tell which colleges offer what degree. If you're only interested in online education, How to Get a College Degree Via the Internet not only lists institutions offering degree programs via online courses, but goes deeply into what you need to know to tackle this type of program.
Patrick Henry College
Another heartening development: Patrick Henry College, founded by the good folks at HSLDA (540-338-5600, www.hslda.org), was originally going to only offer the last two years of college. The revised plan is to offer the full four years. Classes will commence fall 2000. Once the campus program is accredited, they plan to offer the first two years via distance education. This could be the solution for thousands of homeschoolers who want the vocational education in the last two years of another college, but hesitate to waste the first two years taking courses whose viewpoints offend them.
College courses on CD-ROM? College credit via examination? Already here or on the way. Soon those who study well on their own will be able to complete college at home as easily as they did high school. Educational choice in higher education is coming. Just in time for us.
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