Why Sending Your Child to a Secular College Could Lead to Negative Outcomes

As a Christian parent who has homeschooled your children, you have likely invested significant time and effort in shaping their values and beliefs. You have instilled in them a strong foundation in the Christian faith, and have guided them in living a life that honors God. However, as your children approach adulthood and begin to make their own decisions, you may find that their choices conflict with your Christian values. One such decision that can cause significant conflict is sending your child to a university whose teachings are opposed to your worldview. This is not to say that a Christian who attends a secular college cannot succeed. They can. Two of my sons completed their education on secular campuses for varying reasons, and neither one had a crises of faith. Both were older and married when they completed their education and I believe their maturity contributed to their ability not to be swayed by opposing worldviews or peer pressure. On the other hand, I have quite a few friends whose children attended a secular college immediately after high school with repercussions that were heartbreaking.

Attending a university whose teachings conflict with your Christian values can lead to a crisis of faith for your child. During their time at college, they will likely be exposed to a wide range of ideas and worldviews that may challenge their beliefs. This can be especially difficult for young adults who are still developing their own worldview and sense of identity. If they are not well-equipped to navigate these challenges, it can lead to confusion, doubt, and even a loss of faith.

When the teachings at a college are directly opposed to your Christian beliefs, the result can be a disconnect between your child’s values and their actions. In other words, they may begin to live a life that is inconsistent with the values you have taught them. They may begin to engage in behaviors and activities which are not consistent with Christian values. This can cause significant stress and conflict for both you and your child.

A breakdown in family relationships can happen when a child’s values and beliefs conflict with those of their parents, and that can lead to tension and conflict within the family. This can be especially difficult for Christian families whose faith is often a core part of the family’s identity. If your child begins to question their faith or live a life that is inconsistent with your values, it can cause significant strain on your relationship with them.

Sending your child to a college whose teachings conflict with your Christian values could be a poor choice with negative outcomes, leading to a crisis of faith, a disconnect between your child’s values and their actions, and a breakdown in family relationships. As a Christian parent, it is important to carefully consider the values and beliefs of any college before sending your child there. If you do choose to send your child to a college whose teachings conflict with your worldview, it is important to equip them with the tools they need to navigate these challenges while staying true to their faith. Remember, your child’s spiritual well-being is more important than their academic success, and you don’t want to forfeit one for the sake of the other.

Pros and Cons of Dual Enrollment: Exploring the Advantages and Disadvantages of Earning College Credits in High School

Dual enrollment programs are becoming increasingly popular as high school students look for ways to earn college credits while still in high school. While there are many advantages to dual enrollment, there are also some disadvantages to consider.

Advantages of Dual Enrollment:

  1. College Credit: Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to earn college credits while still in high school. These credits can be transferred to a college or university, saving students time and money on their college education.
  2. Challenging Coursework: Dual enrollment courses are usually more challenging than high school courses, which can help students prepare for the rigor of college coursework. Dual enrollment courses can also help students develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for success in college and beyond.
  3. Increased Access: Dual enrollment programs can provide students with access to courses and resources that may not be available at their high school. Students can take courses at a local community college or university and benefit from the resources and facilities available on campus.
  4. Early Career Exploration: Dual enrollment programs can help students explore their career interests and gain experience in a specific field before entering college. This can help students make more informed decisions about their college major and career path.
  5. Cost: Dual enrollment is more affordable and, in some states, state grants cover a lot (if not all) of expenses charged. Tennessee students can take 30 hours of DE with Bryan College for less than $200 tuition (total), plus books. Out-of-state students receive a $200 scholarship per class.
  6. Time Management: Dual enrollment courses can be time-consuming, and students may struggle to balance their high school coursework, extracurricular activities, and college coursework, but the sooner they learn to handle this, the better and, answering to someone other than mom, provides accountability.

Disadvantages of Dual Enrollment:

  1. Not Taking the Classes Seriously: Students who are not careful to pass their classes with good grades may suffer by losing state grants, having to retake a failed class, or having a low GPA on their record.
  2. Faith Under Fire: Taking dual enrollment college classes on a secular campus can present certain challenges and potential dangers for a Christian high school student. One of the primary concerns is the clash of worldviews. Secular campuses often promote a perspective that may contradict or challenge the student’s Christian beliefs, exposing them to ideas and ideologies that could potentially erode their faith. Additionally, the college environment can be more liberal and permissive, with a greater emphasis on personal freedom and experimentation, which may lead to peer pressure or temptations that can steer the student away from their Christian values. It is important for the student to be prepared and equipped with a strong foundation in their faith and critical thinking skills to navigate these potential pitfalls and stay true to their beliefs amidst the secular influences. Regular communication and support from their Christian community and mentors can also play a vital role in helping them navigate these challenges successfully.
  3. Earning Useless Credits: There is a significant risk associated with taking too many dual enrollment classes that may not transfer to a student’s desired college or university. While these classes provide an opportunity for high school students to earn college credit and get a head start on their education, it is crucial to carefully consider the transferability of these credits. If the chosen institution does not accept the credits or has strict limitations on transferable courses, the student may find themselves retaking classes they thought they had already completed. This can result in wasted time, effort, and financial resources. Therefore, it is essential for students to thoroughly research and consult with academic advisors to ensure that the dual enrollment courses they take align with their future educational goals and the transfer policies of their desired institutions. (The same holds true for CLEP credits.)

Dual enrollment programs offer many advantages, including college credit, challenging coursework, increased access, and early career exploration. However, there are some disadvantages to consider as well. It’s important for students and their families to carefully consider the pros and cons of dual enrollment before deciding whether or not to participate. To find out more about the online dual enrollment opportunities at Bryan College, send an email to bcde@bryan.edu. Be sure to let them know if you live in Tennessee or out-of-state.

Why Colleges are Embracing Homeschooled Students: The Unique Perspective and Valuable Skills They Bring to the College Environment

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of colleges actively seeking homeschooled students. In the past, homeschooled students were often viewed with skepticism by colleges, but this perception is changing as more and more homeschoolers excel academically and prove themselves to be valuable members of their communities. Here are some reasons why colleges are seeking homeschooled students:

  1. Unique Perspective: Homeschooled students often bring a unique perspective to college classrooms. These students are typically self-motivated, independent, and able to manage their time effectively. They also tend to be creative problem-solvers who are used to thinking outside the box. This perspective can be valuable in college courses and can contribute to a more diverse and engaging academic environment.
  2. Well-Rounded Education: Homeschooling allows students to receive a well-rounded education that emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills. Homeschooled students have more flexibility in their curriculum and can pursue their interests in-depth. They are also more likely to have experience with community service, extracurricular activities, and internships. These experiences can help homeschooled students stand out in college admissions and contribute to their success in college.
  3. Strong Work Ethic: Homeschooled students often have a strong work ethic that is attractive to colleges. These students are used to working independently and taking responsibility for their education. They are also typically motivated by a love of learning rather than external rewards like grades or test scores. This work ethic can translate into academic success in college and beyond.
  4. College Readiness: Homeschooled students tend to be well-prepared for college-level coursework. They have experience with self-directed learning, research, and writing. They also tend to have strong study habits and time management skills. These skills are essential for success in college and can help homeschooled students thrive in the college environment.
  5. Dedicated to Learning: Homeschooled students are often dedicated to lifelong learning. They are used to taking responsibility for their education and are more likely to pursue learning opportunities outside of the classroom. This dedication to learning can lead to academic success in college and beyond and can make homeschooled students valuable members of the college community.

Many colleges are seeking homeschooled students and, for this reason, many have hired homeschool counselors. Homeschooled students, in general, bring a valuable set of skills and experiences to the college environment and are well-prepared for academic success. As homeschooling becomes more mainstream and accepted, it is likely that more colleges will actively seek out these students. My position was created at Bryan College as a result of the great experiences the faculty and staff had with the homeschooled students on campus. Our current president, Dr. Mann, is a homeschool dad. Many of our faculty and staff homeschool their children and Bryan College offers a homeschool scholarship!

Why a Private College Offers a More Personalized and Engaging Academic Experience than a State University

Choosing the right college can be a daunting task for students and their families. One of the most significant decisions students have to make is whether to attend a private college or a state university. While both options offer excellent academic opportunities, there are many advantages to attending a private college.

  1. Smaller Class Sizes: Private colleges tend to have smaller class sizes than state universities. This means that students can benefit from more individualized attention from professors and better access to academic resources. Smaller classes also promote more significant student engagement, discussion, and collaboration.
  2. Personalized Attention: Private colleges offer more personalized attention than state universities. The smaller size of private colleges means that students are more likely to receive individual attention from their professors, academic advisors, and other staff members. This can be beneficial when seeking academic guidance, career advice, or extra support.
  3. Higher Graduation Rates: Private colleges tend to have higher graduation rates than state universities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, private colleges have an average six-year graduation rate of 65%, while state universities have an average six-year graduation rate of 59%. Private colleges tend to offer more structured academic programs and greater support services that can help students stay on track to graduation.
  4. Access to Resources: Private colleges often offer more access to resources than state universities. These resources can include state-of-the-art research facilities, specialized academic programs, and more extensive alumni networks. Private colleges also tend to have more extensive financial aid programs and scholarships available to students, which can help offset the higher tuition costs.
  5. Prestige: Private colleges are often considered more prestigious than state universities. Many private colleges have a long-standing reputation for academic excellence, and attending one can provide students with a valuable credential that can enhance their job prospects and graduate school applications.

When comparing colleges, do not let the sticker prices deter you. Increased prices often coincide with increased scholarship awards. In order to compare apples with apples, go ahead and apply to your top college choices so that you can compare award letters.

While state universities offer many benefits, private colleges offer a more personalized and engaging academic experience. Private colleges offer smaller class sizes, more personalized attention, higher graduation rates, access to resources, and greater prestige. Ultimately, the choice between a private college and a state university will depend on the individual student’s goals, needs, and resources.

Going the Distance: Exploring the Advantages of a Four-Year College over a Two-Year College

When it comes to choosing a college path, one option is to attend a four-year university rather than starting at a community college and then transferring. While both options have their benefits, there are several advantages to attending a four-year college from the beginning.

  1. More comprehensive education: Four-year universities offer a more comprehensive education than community colleges. These schools offer a wide variety of courses, majors, and extracurricular activities, which allows students to explore a range of interests and develop a well-rounded skill set. In contrast, community colleges tend to offer a limited selection of courses and programs, which may not provide the same level of depth or breadth.
  2. Greater prestige: Attending a four-year college can also offer greater prestige than starting at a community college. This can be beneficial when applying for jobs, internships, or graduate programs, as employers and admissions officers may place more value on degrees from well-known universities.
  3. Networking opportunities: Four-year universities often offer more networking opportunities than community colleges. These schools typically have larger alumni networks and may offer more opportunities for students to connect with professionals in their field. This can be beneficial when looking for internships, job opportunities, or mentors.
  4. More resources: Four-year universities often have more resources than community colleges. This can include research facilities, libraries, and specialized centers or institutes. These resources can provide students with access to cutting-edge research, technologies, and academic support services.
  5. Greater campus experience: Attending a four-year university can also offer a more robust campus experience than starting at a community college. Four-year universities often have more extracurricular activities, clubs, and events, which can help students build a strong sense of community and develop leadership skills. Additionally, four-year universities may offer more on-campus housing options, which can provide a more immersive college experience.
  6. Monetary benefits: Even though community colleges may be more affordable than a four year college, transfer students lose freshmen scholarship opportunities and, in some cases, the price of two years at a community college, plus the cost of the last two years at a four year college exceeds what it would cost to attend the four year college from the beginning.

While attending a community college and transferring to a four-year university can be a good option for some students, there are several advantages to attending a four-year university from the beginning. Four year colleges offer a more comprehensive education, greater prestige, networking opportunities, more resources, and a greater campus experience. Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend a four-year university or a community college and transfer will depend on each student’s individual goals, needs, and resources.

Disputing a List of Reasons Why Homeschoolers Fail

sad womanA friend sent me an article enumerating reasons that homeschoolers fail. This friend asked me to share my thoughts. As I read the article I wondered how many families will be negatively impacted by this list of reasons for failure. Unfortunately, this article may make parents feel insecure, second guess their experience, or make unnecessary changes. If changes need to be made then, by all means, make the changes that need to be made. However, I have seen families totally change from an enjoyable homeschool experience, to a more structured experience simply because someone questioned whether what they are doing is the best for their student. One year I met a mom who had organized a unit study centered around baseball for the son’s entire academic year. The son loved it. The mom loved it. The dad loved seeing them loving itbaseball but, when the dad made the following remark, he instilled so much doubt that his wife totally changed plans for the following academic year. He said, “That’s great, but what if he’s getting behind?” She second guessed her success and the next year she put her son in front of a computer for a full on-line curriculum. He was miserable, she was miserable and after a little encouragement, she was excited to return to teaching unit study style. (Read this blog to expound on that thought.)

Although the article I read contains information that may be pertinent and worth  pondering, I am afraid that it may cause unrest and dissatisfaction of situations that are working well for particular families. When I asked the friend who shared this article articlehow she felt after reading it, she said, “I read this and got that panicked feeling and started questioning if I did this all wrong or if my kids are behind.” As well intentioned as the author may be, and in spite of the fact that some of the information may be practical and applicable to a certain degree, my immediate thought was that this article will cause more insecurities among homeschooling parents than it will create changes. There are comments worth considering in this article, but I do believe parents need to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water simply because an article may point a finger at a particular homeschooling style and declare that as a reason for failure.

The article mentioned defines failure as “not accomplishing an acceptable standard.” yard stick What is an acceptable standard? The article goes on to define that as, “… A level of accomplishment that would be found average or better by an informed  objective  analysis.” Those statements beg many questions such as, “Can one be successful without accomplishing an acceptable standard?” “Who determines what is average or better than average in terms of accomplishment?” Those questions aside, let’s talk about each reason listed for failure.

Failure #1: Inadequate structure, poor organization – failure to establish goals.  jamie andersonSuccessfully completing high school does require intention and goal setting so that students are well prepared for life after high school, regardless of the path that entails. However, elementary and even the middle school years do not need to be structured in a rigid fashion. Establishing goals for high school is a great idea. In an article about Olympic Gold Medal winner, Jamie Anderson, her mom shared that she homeschooled her children by placing a priority on character. She encouraged her children to play outdoors and to pursue their interests. Apparently she has been so successful homeschooling her eight children that Jamie plans to copy what her mom did 100%.  This mom would have been criticized for her lack of structure and perhaps even her failure to establish academic goals, but who can argue with the outcome? She had goals, but one of her goals was to be less structured. It worked for her family.
Failure #2: Not Adapting to How A Child Learns.  This is somewhat important, but children can adjust to teaching methods that may not be adapted to how they learn. After all, when I was in school the entire classroom (24 to 30 students) was taught the same way. Having nine children of my own, I did attempt (somewhat) to address each child’s learning style after I listened to a talk years ago by Cynthia Tobias entitled, “How Children Learn.” To be honest, I was so busy with homeschooling, taking care of babies, making meals, keeping up with laundry, going to multiple church services and handling so many other responsibilities that I probably did not put as much effort into this as others. Regardless, my children (for the most part) did well and have survived. Eight of the nine are married and my youngest (single) daughter is traveling all over the world, working to make life better for many people. 
Failure #3: Switching Curriculum Constantly Although I can see a benefit to consistency, one of the beauties of homeschooling is the freedom to change things up for any  number of reasons. Perhaps what you are using is not working, or something new and excitingcurriculum becomes available.  Our family homeschooled co-op style using unit studies so we used different materials every year.  In this article an analogy was used insinuating that if you have a great cake recipe, you do not switch ingredients or change it up. You stick with what works. The  analogy breaks down when one discovers he/she is gluten intolerant and can no longer make cakes that include ingredients containing gluten. 
home aloneFailure #4: You can’t teach what you don’t know  If I believed that I had to know everything that my children needed to learn, then I would have quit after my children finished third grade. (Although I attended college, what I did not know in terms of what I would be teaching my children was vast.)  As it turned out, I learned right alongside them (without letting them know how little I knew). And, if a certain subject is required, and you feel inadequate to teach that subject, then you find a class, or a tutor, or some other creative solution. You can teach what you don’t know if you are willing to learn right along with your children.
Failure #5: Using tools not intended to be complete (supplements, apps, websites) Well now, this comment will probably step on the toes of many who use supplements, apps, and/or the KHAN academy. These tools can be useful if the parent and/or student understands exactly what is being offered. If there are holes, or gaps in these products, that can be remedied by the parent or student or by another program. The insinuation here is that these free products are too difficult to resist and what they offer may be of little to no value if it is not a complete program. 
Failure # 6: Expecting to educate in too little time  Trying to reassure parents in the past I have been known to suggest that you could try to not teach your child anything up until their senior year and then totally catch them up in the 12th grade. (Many would say thatpocket watch would be expecting too much in too little time, right?) Yet I did that with one of mine. This particular son attended co-ops, but didn’t really pay much attention. So during his 12th grade year I said, “We are doing two things this year, #1 – Studying for the college exam because you need a certain score for the scholarship to Bryan College and #2 – Filling in any gaps and reviewing everything you should have learned up until now.” And, guess what? He did fine. He graduated, married and is running his own business! My youngest son could have cared less about anything academic until his intellectual fires were lit during a co-op his tenth year of high school. Wowza. Did he make up for lost time after that! He began dual enrolling in college classes, carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to graduate college with at least two majors. My mentor told me (this was in 1985) that I should not even worry about curriculum during the elementary grades and possibly even during middle school. She said that what I should do is make learning fun and use natural, every day opportunities to fuel the fire for knowledge. She also said I should read aloud, often. I heeded this advice and I believe that is one of the reasons I enjoyed homeschooling so much! If you teach your child how to find the information they need, when they need it, then they will be life-long learners who will be able to accomplish anything they put their mind to when properly motivated. As Sir Ken Robinson said, “You can’t know everything about everything.” 
street protestFailure #7:  There’s always tomorrow This statement suggests that procrastinators will fail and that lost time cannot be recovered. But, there is (often) always tomorrow and I wish more homeschooling parents would remember that. Years ago, at a worldview seminar I organized, I stayed in host housing and one of the perks to the hosts was allowing their teens to come to the seminar for free, yet the parents did not allow their students to attend because they were behind in their school work. Really? They could have caught up on their school work another day. Instead, they missed out on an amazing six hour seminar that they could have attended for free. After hurricane Katrina hit in 2005,  my 16 year old son went to Mississippi to help with the clean-up.  He stayed there two weeks. Recently he attended a meeting where I was speaking to homeschooling parents and he shared with the group that many more of his friends would have volunteered, but their parents would not allow them to miss school. He then encouraged parents to weigh the benefits of allowing their students to participate in opportunities that arise. The year the State of Florida was killing Terry Schiavo we took a break from all things academic and became very involved with the protest at the capitol, on the streets, and even where Terry Schiavo was being starved (dehydrated) to death. My children learned a lot during that experience. Realizing that no one is guaranteed one more day on this earth, it is commonly assumed that there is always tomorrow. Did you have a bad day today? There is always tomorrow. Did you not get as much accomplished as you planned? There is always tomorrow. Do you want to take a break from academics in order to minister to others? There is always tomorrow. Is someone in your immediate (or extended) family ill and in need of care? There is always tomorrow.
When you come across articles that make you feel unsettled, be careful not to place guilt where guilt should not be placed. Articles that list reasons for failure will never apply to everyone reading the article. For that reason, read the article the same way you eat a piece of steak, chew up the meat and spit out the gristle. If changes need to be made, make changes. If you are enjoying your homeschool experience and your children are thriving, carry on!

Benefits of a Test Optional College

Colleges that are test optional do not require applicants to submit a test score for admission. Some colleges extend that policy to merit awards, being willing to offer merit scholarships based on a student’s GPA rather than a test score. During COVID many colleges became test optional simply because students did not have a way to take the ACT or the SAT. After testing possibilities returned, many colleges discontinued being test optional. Before Covid, Bryan College required both test scores and high school GPAs for merit scholarships. During COVID Bryan became test optional, using either a test score or a high school GPA alone for merit scholarships. This year Bryan College announced that they are now using either a test score or a dual enrollment GPA (minimum 9 credits earned) for merit scholarships. This is great news for students who have high dual enrollment GPAs, but who test poorly. A few years ago my three youngest children were students at Bryan College. As dual enrolled students they made great grades (4.0). However, they were not good test takers so they did not earn the highest merit scholarships. Had we had this policy back then, all three would have earned the highest merit scholarship (based on a DE GPA of 3.75 or higher).

In order to take advantage of this policy, students need to plan far enough ahead so that they can earn at least nine hours of dual enrollment credit while in high school. The higher the GPA, the better. Bryan College also hosts a scholarship event each semester for qualifying seniors who have been accepted to Bryan College. In order to attend the event held in November a senior will have to have a certain test score (ACT 21, SAT 1060 or CLT 68 was the 2022/2023 requirement) or have earned at least nine credits in dual enrollment with a 3.0 or higher GPA. For seniors who have not obtained either the test score or the completion of nine dual enrollment credits, they can make plans to meet requirements during the fall semester and attend the second scholarship event offered at Bryan in February of the spring semester.

Personally, I am not aware of any other colleges offering merit scholarships based on dual enrollment GPAs. I love that Bryan College has embraced this policy.

Homeschoolers can benefit from a college that is test-optional and uses GPA for enrollment in several ways:

  1. It reduces the pressure on standardized testing: Homeschoolers may not have access to traditional testing opportunities such as the SAT or ACT. Even if they do, they may not perform as well on these tests compared to their counterparts who attended traditional schools. A test-optional policy reduces the importance of these tests and allows homeschoolers to be evaluated on their GPA.
  2. It highlights their academic achievements: Since homeschoolers do not have a traditional transcript, their dual enrollment GPA can showcase their academic achievements. If their GPA is strong, it can be an indicator of their ability to handle college-level coursework.
  3. It may level the playing field: Homeschoolers may face bias and misconceptions about their education. A test-optional policy can help reduce these biases and provide a more equitable evaluation process.

Overall, a test-optional policy that considers dual enrollment GPA for enrollment can be beneficial for homeschoolers and provide them with a fair opportunity to not only gain admission to college, but to earn merit scholarships and, at Bryan College, to qualify for an additional scholarship event.

Tennessee students can take 30 hours of dual enrollment classes at Bryan College for less than $200 tuition (total), plus books and fees, and out-of-state students are offered a $200 scholarship per class. For more information send an email to bcde@bryan.edu.

If you have students who have completed their junior year who are interested in attending Bryan College, the sooner they apply the better. There is no application fee. Planning ahead not only saves a student a lot of money (via dual enrollment), but it can also earn the student additional scholarship funds, reducing the overall price of college considerably. I am the homeschool admissions counselor at Bryan College. If you would like to be on my email list, receiving updates and announcements, send me an email: pat.wesolowski@bryan.edu.