This is a good article that shares many of the reasons we chose College Plus for Katie's advanced education.
(This article appeared originally as a blog on www.voddiebaucham.org)
Those who have followed my blog (or have heard me speak on the issue of education) know that I am an exponent of Christian education. I believe all education is religious in nature, education is inseparable from discipleship (Luke 6:40), and Christian parents, therefore, are called to give their children a Christian education. I am also convinced that these principles apply to every level of education whenever possible (I recognize that sometimes we need a course that is only offered in less-than-desirable places). Hence, I believe we must evaluate our plans and decisions regarding college education from a biblical perspective. In the past even avid Christian education advocates have often 'dropped the ball' when college rolled around.
I am also a homeschool dad who, like many home educators, had no idea how poorly educated I was until my wife and I began to teach our children at home. There is a saying among home educators: "Homeschooling is really the education of two generations at once." I envy my children their education. I have often said that my daughter, Jasmine, was better educated when she finished High School (at sixteen) than I was when I graduated from college. And yes, I mean that literally. It's not even close. As a result, we began to re-think the whole college idea.
My family and I have chosen College Plus as an affordable alternative to the University. College plus is a two-year program that offers a fully accredited BA for as little as 1/10 the cost of traditional college education. Moreover, it circumvents the college campus experience (though some degrees may require a course or two on a campus nearby, i.e., a science lab) I recommend College Plus highly to anyone fed up with the status quo. Jasmine (now eighteen) is currently enrolled, and we plan to start my son, Trey (now fifteen), next semester.
Here is a synopsis of a five-point "sermon" that my children have grown tired of hearing over the past few years (don't act like you've never preached the same sermon over and over to your kids). These five principles led us to choose College Plus over the traditional route:
1. Most BA Degrees Aren't Worth The Paper They Are Written On
What is a BA worth nowadays? Some estimate the value at nearly $1 million in earnings over a lifetime (compared to High School graduates).
"[O]ver an adult's working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor's degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master's degree, $2.5 million." (Source: "The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings")
Is this worth the cost? Are there other ways to earn that kind of money? In fact, there are. If you gave your eighteen year-old $10,000.00 (half the first year cost at the University of Texas), and encouraged them to save $500.00 per month, they could have a million dollars in the bank by age fifty-one (8% rate of return). That's not being a Millionaire; that's having a cool million in the bank in addition to your other assets!
Send your kid to Harvard, for example, and you spend $250,000.00 (or accumulate that much in debt) in order for them to gain an estimated $900,000.00 more than the average High School graduate over a lifetime. That's insane! Especially if they come home with a "non-degree" (i.e., Sociology, Education, or practically anything ending in 'Studies').
2. Four Years Is Too Much Time to Waste
The years between eighteen and twenty-two are critical years in the life of a young man or woman. Why should they spend those four years in the company of fools (both students and faculty in most cases)? Remember, "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." (Proverbs 13:20) Therefore, we must "Look carefully then how [we] walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16) College, should you deem it necessary, should be completed as early and as quickly as possible, and with minimal exposure to 'fools'. Get in; get out; get on with real life. Campus life can be quite enjoyable. It is also a breeding ground for some of the most wasteful, unsavory aspects of young adulthood. Don't buy the lie that says four years at university is a necessary season to "sew wild oats."
3. $80,000 (room & board/State School) to &250,000 (room & board/Ivy League) is Too Much Money to Spend
Lets face it, unless a person leaves a university with a degree in Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and the like, they are probably leaving with a 'non-degree' (a non-degree is something subjective, politically motivated, designed to fill quotas, or keep athletes in school, and requiring little or no academic rigor). The overwhelming majority of kids in college today are wasting time and money on foolishness. And their parents are spending tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege. I talked to a family who sent their daughter to an Ivy League school to get a degree in 'Women's Studies'. What on earth is 'Women's Studies' anyway? A quarter of a million dollars for that? Talk about poor stewardship. Instead of paying for that degree, find the person who figured out how to get people to pay a quarter of a million dollars for it and ask them to teach you marketing, political manipulation, and salesmanship!
Besides all of that, have you talked to a recent college graduate lately? Not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. Don't take my word for it; listen to the Washington Post:
"Literacy experts and educators say they are stunned by the results of a recent adult literacy assessment, which shows that the reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade, with no obvious explanation."
"It's appalling -- it's really astounding," said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and a librarian at California State University at Fresno. "Only 31 percent of college graduates can read a complex book and extrapolate from it. That's not saying much for the remainder."
What a monumental waste of time and money! Not only are people coming out of college with degrees they ought to be ashamed of; they can barely read to boot!
4. College is Not For Everyone
Listen to most people talk and you'd think that a college education is the birthright of every American, and that a degree was required for every job. However, that is simply not true. Not everyone is college material, nor should they be. There are very honorable trades that are disappearing before our eyes because no one seems to want to do them anymore. Moreover, instead of viewing college as a placed of advanced learning for people of advanced intellect, we have lowered entrance requirements, offered remedial courses, dumbed down the degrees, and rendered college virtually worthless:
"[O]f the 12 California state university colleges, 60% of students need remediation; a Florida study showed at least 70% of recent high school graduates need remedial courses when they enter community college - - in other words, they need to learn material they should have mastered in public high school - but did not - - costing an extra $59 million per year." (USA Today, November 24, 1997)
Meanwhile, there is a desperate shortage of technicians in many fields. My jeweler told me that Rolex was giving away the tools of the trade (valued at almost the cost of a college degree) to those willing to complete the training to work on their watches! This is just one example. There are dozens more. Lots of people do just fine without a college degree (see: the pool guy, the yard guy, the cabinet guy, the floor guy, etc.).
5. Most Universities Are Philosophically Antagonistic to Christianity
Here's a little scene I like to play out for my kids to illustrate the folly of many educational choice:
Mr. and Mrs. Christian, we here at 'Ivy League' University are philosophically opposed to virtually everything you stand for. We are among the most liberal, Darwinian, Secular Human, neo-Marxist, Feminist bunch on the planet. However, if you give us $250,000.00 we'll take your daughter off your hands for the next four years and make a man our of her. Between the money you've spent on her prep school, private tutors, and college education, she'll be put in a position where devoting herself to being a wife and mother would be a criminal act. Therefore, she'll put off marriage as long as possible, have no more than one.... maybe two kids, pay someone else to raise them -since she'll start off her career up to her eyeballs in debt-but don't you worry... She'll always be the most impressive person in the room when she mentions the fact that she was indoctrinated by us... So how will you be paying?
I believe in education. In fact, I think Christians should be more, not less educated than the general public. If we really believe what we say we do, then we should be stewards of the minds God has given us, and we should be leading the way like Augustine, Edwards, Copernicus, Galileo, Faraday and others who served God and their fellow man by honing, sharpening and engaging their intellects in lofty pursuits. However, It is not necessary to spend a quarter of a million dollars for a BA in order to get it done.
A BA is virtually worthless these days (with some notable exceptions). Many fields, realizing this collapse of value, now prefer (or require) advanced degrees. And once you have an advanced degree who cares where or how you got your BA? We've got to stop making the Pagans rich while they make us dumb. Take a look at College Plus. It may not be right for your family (there is no clean, easy, one-size-fits-all way out of this mess), but I hope it will at least give you another tool in the toolbox as you try to figure out the next step. And if you just happen to have a quarter of a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, go plant a church. Or better yet, come with me to Zambia next time and we'll plant a hundred churches, or fund the education of a hundred pastors. In fact, we could probably do both.