Strengthen Your Family Through Biblical Homeschooling

CHOOSING A COLLEGE: A DISCUSSION FROM BOTH PARENT & STUDENT PERSPECTIVES

Erskine College

I decided to tackle the college choice question from two different perspectives. As a parent, there are things you may be concerned about that are not on your child’s mind. Additionally, there are things you want for your child to experience. I will address four main questions to ask when reviewing college choices and answer them from both perspectives. I hope you will find this helpful, here goes:

What are your priorities?

  • As a parent you want to know that your student is receiving a quality education, that is one of the reasons you chose homeschooling to begin with. However, this is a larger investment and someone else will be assisting them with their learning, so it must be right! Green flags for you will hinge on the amount and types of student support available, financial commitment from the college to your family (in the way of scholarships), and whether the mission and values of the school align with your own. For instance, a large state university may be attractive because of its lower tuition cost, however many Christian colleges offer substantial scholarships and have the added value of being aligned with your faith. An example in point would be at Erskine College where we offer a $25,000 per year scholarship for homeschoolers so even though our initial price tag may seem daunting, the bottom line cost is very competitive with state schools.

 

  • For your student, you want to know that tutoring or other classroom help is available. It is especially helpful to have small class sizes as your child will likely receive more individualized attention in that setting. Additionally you want student life and activities to be available and that will not conflict with your faith. Along with this, you want opportunities for them to grow in their faith walk and have opportunities to be on mission for Christ, both at home and abroad. Academically, you want them to have opportunities to broaden their horizons with study abroad and to be well placed for job/internship opportunities as they progress in their studies.

 

How does this school align with your priorities?

  • While this may seem to be a repeat of question one, it is not in that every family will have different priorities and each school may meet them differently. This question helps distill all the disparate parts down to what matters most and how each school on your list ranks according to the priorities your family has set for this evaluation. This discussion needs to be iterative and really be a conversation between parent and student so that the best fit choice can be made. Discussing elements such as academic rigor, programs of study, and support services are basic to narrowing the list down. However, additional considerations must be made along side of the basics and include financial aid and student life, to include what activities are available for your student to participate. Most important to me as a parent is the spiritual aspect. Your student may have a very strong and vibrant faith walk but if they are on a campus where all the peer pressure is in the wrong direction and the professors openly mock faith then it becomes harder to sustain that walk. Some of you may feel that being in such an environment provides opportunity to be salt and light and I do not disagree, but I ask you to seriously and prayerfully seek God’s face on this specific point because many a young person has drifted away from the faith because of such an experience. Research from Barna backs my point here. To summarize, I would much rather have my child in an environment where they will be challenged in how to defend their faith by professors whose intent is to strengthen them rather than form the perspective of someone who desires to completely strip them of their biblical worldview.

 

What is the spiritual environment of this institution?

  • One thing I have always told parents, no matter what institution I have worked at is that you will see many pretty buildings on college campuses. You may also find wonderful facilities with the newest equipment. However, the most important thing is what happens inside those buildings and classrooms. Since I have always worked at faith-based institutions, that inference is to the spiritual aspect of campus life. Several questions for you ask in this regard are:

 

What opportunities are available for spiritual discipleship?

    • For example, at Erskine College we have student groups such as Reformed University Fellowship and Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Additionally, there are numerous churches of various denominations in the area which encourage student involvement with their discipleship programs. Another example is a voluntary, non-credit course on vocation and calling taught by faculty one evening per week

 

What opportunities are available for Christian service/ministry?

    • At Erskine, like many Christian schools, we hold Convocation and Chapel services twice per week:
      • Convocation is when the students gather to hear from a variety of speakers, from pastors to businessmen to athletes, on various subjects
      • Chapel is a time when the students gather to worship, pray, and hear from a variety of speakers, such as pastors or staff members
    • There are also Sunday evening student worship opportunities led by our campus pastor
    • Several Erskine examples of outreach include – collecting stuffed animals for victims of domestic abuse and Operation Christmas Child

 

Will my student be supported and encouraged in his Christian walk?

    • Again, this is very important in my estimation. Since your child is likely to be a significant distance away from home for the first time, having support both on campus and in the classroom is essential. Another Erskine example here is that professors often pray to begin class and incorporate a biblical worldview into the subject matter being taught

 

Will this school support our Biblical worldview?

    • I would not view this as being in lockstep but simply being an environment that is supportive. The church universal is a rather broad and diverse group, learning to get along with others who do not necessarily worship in the same way can be enlightening and can teach us to appreciate the differences God has implanted within us. With that said, there are certainly parameters that each family should consider and make decisions based upon. It is also important to know whether the administration of the school you select is dedicated to the values and mission of the school (i.e. not allowed to drift from Christian principles like Harvard and Princeton have done).

 

Is this school a quality investment?

  • This evaluation will differ from family to family, as each will value certain elements differently, but your evaluation should generally center around these four key aspects
    • Spiritually
      • Parent – Will this school align with our Biblical worldview or will faculty actively work to destroy my child’s faith?
      • Student – Will I have access to mentors who encourage me in my faith?

 

  •  Academically
    • Parent – Will this school equip my child for the calling God has given him or her?
    • Student – Will this school provide resources to equip me in securing a career following graduation?

 

  •  Socially
    • Parent – Does this school provide positive social activities?
    • Student – Will I fit in?

 

  •  Financially
    • Parent – Are there scholarships available to help fund the education?
    • Student – Can we afford my first-choice school? If not, what is my back-up plan?

 

Obviously, a lot to consider so starting early is a best practice. Especially when it comes to finding scholarships, seeking those out as early in the high school years as possible is great prior planning. Looking for scholarships, understanding the requirements and deadlines is key to staying on top of applications when senior year begins. God bless you in your search!

 

By Dr. Tim Rees who serves as Dean of Enrollment at Erskine College in Due West, SC

 

 

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About David and Leslie Nunnery

Leslie Nunnery and her husband David founded Teach Them Diligently, the nation’s premier source for gospel-centered homeschool events. With seven years of homeschooling experience from preschool-high school and a passion to encourage and equip homeschool families, this mom of 4 shares her know-how and insights weekly through Teach Them Diligently media and on TeachThemDiligently365.com.

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