College at Home


Using the internet, students may earn a few credits or a college diploma through distance learning. College at home is becoming increasingly popular for many reasons:
  • Expense -- Distance learning allows the student to live at home, rather than in a dorm or apartment possibly in another town. With gas prices increasing, even driving to the local college or university can prove incredibly expensive. Additionally, distance learning credit hours may be less expensive than "in person" credits.
  • Acceleration -- Homeschooled students frequently are more academically advanced than their classroom school counterparts. Their parents would like to allow them to continue with higher level courses, but they are concerned about exposing their teens to the more mature, traditionally-aged college students. Distance learning offers the benefit of advanced courses without the risk of running in an older crowd.
  • Speed of study -- In many cases, the course proceeds at the student’s rate of study, so a course that could have involved a semester of sitting in class might be completed, for example, in a month of diligent work. Those students who need additional time are not under as much pressure as they would be in a traditional environment.
  • Availability of “credit by examination” tests -- Homeschooled students who have had diverse experiences such as mission trips, extensive foreign language study, internships, or unique hobbies may be able to earn substantial college credits. These tests are available whether the student does on-campus or distance learning, but many families do not realize that they may have already been doing college-level work at home. “Credit by examination” tests will give the student proper credit for this effort. Preparation books for the CLEP, DANTES, and AP tests are readily available in the library or from booksellers.
  • Jump-start on entrepreneurial life -- Being free-thinkers, many homeschooled students would like to pursue entrepreneurial life rather than fitting into the corporate “box.” Doing college at home allows those students to begin their entrepreneurial efforts right away. (Franchises are a great place to start if you are considering this idea!)
  • Flexibility -- With distance learning, students may take one course or many depending on their schedules and goals.
  • Debt -- Parents and students are becoming increasingly alarmed by the burgeoning student loan debt. While some students may receive government grants to attend school, most have loans pushed upon them by the university or college! These loans are government sanctioned and the student can never relieve himself of the obligation until it is completely paid off, even if the student cannot find a job or has other extenuating circumstances after college graduation. Using the distance learning method, a student can avoid debt by taking classes (or receiving credit-by-exam) at a pace which he can afford. Living at home will also greatly reduce the debt burden of going to college.

Potential Objections

As with students at younger ages, friends and relatives may have objections to college at home. Your student is now a young adult and can make his own decisions, but he will need your support as the flack starts to fly. Here are some possible objections that may come up:
  • Social life -- College is a time when students have the opportunity to party, make friendships, join a fraternity or sorority, and find a spouse. Will the student pursuing distance learning miss out on all this? Perhaps he will miss some of it, but that may not be all bad. Many people regret the mistakes they made in college. Still, your student is not going to spend the day locked in the house staring at the computer screen. He will likely be out working, doing volunteer work, playing community sports, or attending church activities. He may also choose to do some campus classes not available via distance learning.
  • Future prospects -- Some parents worry that a degree from a distance college or through a distance program may hamper the student’s prospects for a good job. If your student has the lofty goal of Harvard Law School or perhaps a career on Wall Street, this is a very valid concern; however, if your student is interested in working for the majority of corporate America or a smaller company, his distance degree is equally valuable. In many cases, a degree is required for certain jobs, but who awarded the diploma or the field of study does not matter. Once the person lands the first job, all subsequent positions will be earned based upon experience and job performance. Your student may wish to pursue an advanced degree, such as a Master’s or an MBA, and his test scores on the GRE or GMAT will be the deciding factor in that.

If your student is interested in entrepreneurial pursuits, he may be looking for a degree to fall back on or one that gives him specialized knowledge to help run his business. Distance learning offers great opportunity to pursue what interests him!

How to Get Started

  1. Strengthen your child's foundation.
    Writing skills are important for college. Make sure that your student can write a high quality essay in an hour's time. Assign research papers so that he or she will learn and practice proper citing of reference material.
    Algebra and geometry should be taken at a high school level before trying college level algebra. A variety of video and CD-ROM based programs are on the market to assist. College algebra moves so quickly that your student will likely be lost without a good understanding of the basics.
  2. Explore your student's goals.
    Discuss what your student wants to do for a career. If he is like most teens, he is not sure, so your best course of action is to let him take foundational courses that all liberal arts degrees require and to let him do some volunteer work to be exposed to more potential areas of interest. If you have the rare, highly focused child, use the information about his preferred field to help you make decisions about which schools to use.
  3. Increase your student's experiences.
    Mission trips, foreign exchange programs, and volunteer work allow the youth to expand his horizons, develop new skills, and explore areas for a future career. They encourage him to think of others and open his eyes to how fortunate he is. Additionally, these experiences may be written up for "life credits" with a college or university.
  4. Check out the dual-enrollment option.
    Florida offers free tuition to high school students who "dual-enroll" at the community college. (Parents must still pay for books.) A student may complete an Associate's degree before graduating high school! To enroll, students must be at a tenth grade level and pass the admissions test which includes math (algebra and geometry) and language arts (writing.) A younger student may qualify if he or she is advanced in academics. If the student fails the placement test and is of tenth grade age, he may take remedial courses to qualify for dual enrollment, but these are generally at the parent's expense. Many of the community colleges have on-line courses available so nervous parents have the option of keeping their children out of the college environment. Call your local community college to find out how to sign up for dual enrollment. Additionally, a few of the state universities offer dual enrollment to exceptional students. See our High School page for more information about dual enrollment in Brevard County.
  5. Investigate on-line colleges.
    A number of colleges exist that are strictly on-line. Other campus-based colleges and universities have created "distance learning" departments to take advantage of the ballooning demand for on-line degrees. Carefully investigate the costs involved with each college, and ask how easily credits earned through that college will transfer elsewhere. Time and money put into courses must be able to move to another college if your youth decides to go to a campus-based college. Check into the accreditation of the college, and the level of respect in the industry of that accreditation. If your student is planning on graduate level studies, make sure that the distance learning college has appropriate accreditation and a good track record for students continuing to higher studies. Here are several to start your investigation:
  6. Read!
    For more information on doing college at home through distance learning, read the following books. Many of them are available in the public library.

Christian Perspective

Accelerated Distance Learning by Brad Voeller
Walston's Guide to Christian Distance Learning by Rick L. Walston
Baker's guide to Christian Distance Education by Jason D. Baker

Also, be sure to visit HomeschoolChristian.com's Beyond High School Section

General Books on Distance Learning

Handbook of Online Learning by Dr. Kjell E. Rudestam, Dr. Judith Schoenholtz-Read
Teaching and Learning at a Distance by Michael Simonson, Sharon E. Smaldino, Michael J. Albright, and Susan Zvacek
Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning