Having finished up 25 years of homeschooling my four children, I often speak to homeschool support groups in order to encourage parents further behind on the homeschooling road. I’ve also written several homeschool-related books which I sell at these events. My youngest daughter, now 20, usually runs my book table so that I can answer questions after my speech. As she handles the transactions, she’s surrounded by parents new to homeschooling who want to meet a homeschooled young adult.
Many of these parents ask my daughter where she goes to college. She’s a tech school student majoring in criminal justice, and she also has a part-time job with a police department as well as an internship with the county sheriff’s department. But when she responds that she goes to a tech school, she’s almost always asked which college she plans to attend to earn her bachelor’s degree; her response that she doesn’t know if she’ll be going on to a four-year college generally elicits some form of disapproval from her questioners.
The fact is that many police departments don’t require their officers to have a bachelor’s degree, so once she graduates with her associate’s degree in criminal justice, she may be finished with her formal education. But most homeschooling parents don’t want to hear this; they want to believe that all homeschooled grads go on to earn college degrees.
This insistence on college degrees in the homeschool community may be rooted in the fact that when homeschooling first turned up on society’s radar, everyone’s main question seemed to be, “How will homeschooled kids do in college?” Since the answer turned out to be “Very well indeed,” college graduation has become many people’s preferred benchmark to prove that homeschooling works.
This push for college among homeschooling parents mirrors society-in-general’s push for college in intensity, if not in purpose. These days, most American kids are urged to go to college by their parents, their relatives, their schools, their communities and even their president, who said in his 2009 State of the Union speech:
“…we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”
This is ironic, given that the U.S. government’s own Department of Labor predicts that the lion’s share of the jobs with the most openings from now until 2018 will not require a college degree. Considering the current state of our economy and the high unemployment rate in most states, why can’t these parents see that earning a college degree is no longer the golden ticket it was once considered to be?
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