As more and more homeschoolers reach the point in their education where they must decide whether or not to go on to college or a university, there are a number of factors to consider. First, you must determine if the career you are pursuing requires a college degree. If your goal is to become a lawyer, nuclear engineer, marine biologist, or medical doctor, attendance at a graduate school will no doubt be necessary. Entry to a graduate school may require four years of prescribed preparation at a college. Thus, it is wise to investigate well in advance what kind of preparation is needed. It may be possible to do a lot of the undergraduate work at home.
As many homeschoolers already know, you no longer need to attend a college in order to get a degree. There are now many accredited schools that offer bachelor's, master's, and even law degrees by home study. Modern computer technology has made home study a very convenient and effective way to earn a degree in virtually any subject area. For example, Auburn University offers an almost totally nonresident MBA and Master of Engineering degrees in such fields as aerospace, chemistry, computer science, and industrial engineering. The courses are taped in the classrooms and mailed to distance students who are required to maintain the same pace of study as resident students.
Regent University at Virginia Beach, Virginia, offers a Master's degree in business administration or management with only two weeks of attendance on campus. There is even an Electronic University Network, which uses the America OnLine computer bulletin board service to connect students with instructors, other students, and support services such as a library and student union.
The most comprehensive source book for what is available in off-campus programs is the guidebook written by John Bear and his daughter Mariah, entitled College Degrees by Mail and Modem (1-800-841-2665, $12.95 plus shipping). The Bears list one hundred accredited educational institutions that offer home study courses leading to degrees. These include Boise State University, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, Skidmore College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, University of Oklahoma, and many more.
The Bears have also produced another highly useful book, Bear's Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditional (1-800-346-6322, $29.95 plus $3 shipping), which contains all the nontraditional alternatives, including those in the above book plus many more. They write: "Since the mid 1970s, there has been a virtual explosion in what is now commonly called 'alternative' or 'nontraditional' and 'external' or 'off-campus' education - ways and means of getting an education or a degree (or both, if you wish) without sitting in classrooms day after day, year after year."
And no doubt we shall see more and more such off-campus educational opportunities for several good reasons. First, it is no longer necessary to sit in a classroom in an ivy-covered building 500 miles away from home just to listen to a young instructor repeat knowledge that can be found in a textbook. Few full professors actually do any teaching anymore in person. They operate at the graduate level. For undergraduates, they may be available on video or a CD-ROM.
Second, attending college can be very expensive. A college education may cost as much as $30,000 a year. It is common for many college graduates these days to start out their post-school life with a student-loan debt of $120,000. That kind of debt can become a very heavy burden when one is getting an entry-level salary.
Third, not every homeschooler has to or ought to attend college. Basic liberal arts subjects, such as English literature and history, can be studied at home. Home businesses provide plenty of opportunities to develop work and entrepreneurial skills. Apprenticeships can be sought out for valuable work experience. Also, there are plenty of jobs for highly competent homeschooled high-school graduates whose knowledge is certainly equal to if not better than that of many of today's college graduates.
Most liberal arts colleges have become arenas of mindless social activities involving binge-drinking, partying, experimentation in sex and drugs, interspersed with boring classes taught by sixties radicals, feminists, and deconstructionists promoting their own political and social agendas. It makes no sense to homeschool and then waste your time and money at such an institution in order to be brainwashed by the humanists.
The best way for homeschoolers to gain the equivalent of a liberal arts college education is to read those books that the liberal professors don't want you to read. For example, if your aim is to become a teacher in a private school (public school teachers generally need a college degree in education), read those books critical of progressive education. There are dozens of wonderful books critical of the public school curriculum and the federal programs aimed at creating a dumbed-down population easily manipulated by a ruling elite.
Today's liberal professors teach evolution as fact. You can counter them by reading some of the very fine books critical of evolution. You won't have time to read those good books if you're at a college and forced to read only the politically correct books required by your professor.
The essence of homeschooling is educational freedom. Which means that you can choose what you want to learn, read the books you want to read, and choose a future career that reflects your own desires and talents. There is no reason why those principles should not apply to college level education. Look through the course catalog of a good university. Check out the courses you would like to take. Examine the books required for the course, and get books critical of that particular discipline. You will probably learn more by reading the critical studies than the mandated texts.