Nobody likes to talk about money. Especially when they do not have enough of it.
College is expensive. Since 1975, college costs have increase 5 to 6 percent above inflation (or more!) every year. In 2003 the average cost of tuition rose 14 percent. Part of the reason for this is that the government continues to hand out money in the form of grants and student loans, and
A good question to ask yourselves – What is the purpose of college for your family?
According to Andrew Ferguson, author of Crazy U, a book that tracks one father’s journey of getting his son into college, “In old world Europe, higher education has been conceived in almost spiritual terms, as a way to instruct maturing minds in the treasures of civilization, the guiding ideas, the political and moral philosophies, and the works of art and literature that make us what we are.” Today, many parents see college as a way for their child to get the skills they need to get a good job. Families need to decide on their vision of the purpose of college before embarking on the long road of college preparation and application.
So when it came time to start thinking about college for our own children, my husband and I asked ourselves – what non-traditional options are available? We are a “think outside the box” kind of family who decided to homeschool our children almost thirty years ago, back in the day when many people were still asking, “What in the world is homeschooling?” We had not saved up a large sum of money to spend on our kids’ college education, choosing
We also wanted to see that happen with little to no student (or parent) debt.
Here is a quick summary on how our children drastically reduced their cost of a college education.
All three of our children have accredited state university degrees. Our eldest has a B.A. in Music from Thomas Edison State University which she earned at a cost of $8,000 total. (Keep in mind, this was ten years ago. I am sure costs have increased.) She spent one semester at Cuesta College but acquired most of her undergraduate units through AP testing at the local high school (which was allowed even though she did not attend the high school) CLEP testing at the local community college, and creating portfolios of her ability in music. Some classes were passed by sending in videos of her playing the piano and violin. Other classes were passed by submitting evidence of her participation in the San Luis Obispo Symphony and the Cal Poly University Orchestra. (Interesting side note – our daughter was never enrolled in Cal Poly and did not pay any Cal Poly tuition, but because she played her violin at a level that helped raise the other Cal Poly students’ playing ability, she was allowed to participate for free. Thomas Edison State University still gave her credit for those classes.) Her upper division units were all completed through distance learning through Thomas Edison State University. (To keep reading, click: Read More)
Our second child has an A.A. in Business and an A.S in Automotive Technology from Cuesta College, and a B.S. in Automotive Management from Ferris State University. The cost for these degrees – finished three years ago – was around $20,000. He took a little more of a traditional route by completing all of his undergrad units at Cuesta College. He initially majored in business, but then took an elective class in the automotive department
Our youngest has an A.A. in Humanities and an A.A. in Journalism from Cuesta College and a B.A. in Music and a B.A in Communications from Thomas Edison State University. The cost for these degrees finished three years ago was around $10,000. She was our child who really wanted to look into going away to school, so with this child we traveled to various universities to take college tours, did some proof reading of her college essays and figured out how to fill out the FAFSA (financial aid) forms. In the end, she decided that the debt she would have to take on to graduate from the colleges where she was accepted was more than the college experience itself was worth. So, she acquired her upper division units through distance learning like her siblings. She is newly married and teaches at a local school while giving Suzuki violin lessons in the afternoons and playing for the San Luis Obispo Symphony on the weekends.
I hope the story of our kids’ college experience is helpful for you. One of the books that helped us navigate a new approach to college education was Accelerated Distance Learning by Brad Voeller. There are so many new options and resources available now, but that book is where we began. It is important that you, as a parent, educate yourself. Even if your child is in a public school, you will find that most counselors are not much help. As
Since that time, I have helped many students research their college options and study for the SAT or ACT college entrance exams. If your child is on a four year university track, it is absolutely essential that they start studying for the SAT or ACT during their junior year to take the test at least twice in the spring so they can apply to college in October of their senior year. I have written another blog about college entrance exams at www.upandovered.com/blog/sat-vs-act-which-one-should-my-student-take-and-when.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments. There are so many choices for students today, and there is a good path available for every student.
Wishing you joy on the journey,