Monday, February 4, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - When College is Not a Fit

I've always said that one of the goals of our homeschooling is to have the children college ready by their graduation, so that if they want to go on into college they'll be able to without any problems.  But really, in the back of my mind it's never been an "if they want to" but a "when they want to".

Of course, as a housewife, I haven't seen much financial return from my own degree (though I'd still argue it's been of use to me) - and the children have seen that.

And the Man of the House, who has supported all of us, and whose hard work enables me to be able to stay home and homeschool the children, did not go to college, and has never regretted that decision - and the children have seen that.

So really, it shouldn't be a huge surprise to me if one or two decide to jump straight into the's just not something I planned for.

But a couple of summers ago, when we received a care package full of t-shirts from the college where one of my older sisters works, and I snapped a picture of the kids wearing them for her, gazing hopefully into their collegiate futures...

… it was already becoming clear that college was not really going to be a good fit for G and her then boyfriend (known to us now as "the Son-in-Law").

Besides the facts I've already mentioned, that I'm a housewife, and haven't really used my degree, and that the Man of the House has succeeded without a degree, there was also the fact that from the time G was tiny she has always said she wanted to be a housewife, and she's never been one to easily give up on a goal.  So, when it became clear that things were moving forward with their relationship...

… and her goal of "housewife" was within her sights, I had a pretty good idea that college was not going to be in their plans.  And although it shouldn't have been a surprise, it was still a shock.

I went through a definite mourning process complete with all five stages of grief.


At this point I was "keeping the doors open" for her (and for him to if he would have let me).

I had her take the HiSet early in her senior year, before things had gotten too serious between them, when I thought she might still be willing to put off marriage plans for a few years (and yes, you can still go to college after your married, I just didn't think she would).

I had her take the SAT.

I even got her agree to apply (or let me apply for her) to a university that she had admitted she might be interested in if it weren't so expensive, and I helped her fill out scholarship and financial aid forms - just in case.


She didn't qualify for much in the way of financial aid, and while she received some scholarship offers, her SAT scores were lackluster and didn't produce as much as they could have.

I was angry that she hadn't tried harder.

I was angry she wouldn't agree to take the test more than once, so she could up her scores.

I was angry with myself for homeschooling her and ruining her future, because surely, if she'd been properly motivated she would have cared more about the whole process.

I was angry with myself for not being able to trust her.  For wanting my dreams to be her dreams.

I was angry with the Man of the House for not being worried.

I was angry with the boyfriend for planting subversive, anti-educational ideas in her head (even if I knew he hadn't).


I offered her a free class of her choice at the college as a high school graduation gift.  She was working at a school for the deaf and blind, and so I offered to pay for a sign language class at the community college in the hope that a little taste of college might lead to a desire for more.  When she completed that course I offered to pay for another - a drawing pressure.  But, while she enjoyed learning sign language, she didn't like the college format, and didn't care to take any more classes.

I also offered to help her fiancé (as he was by then) fill out financial aid forms, talk to the career counseling center at the college, look into online degree programs, or find a job that paid tuition costs - he had other plans.


I felt like I'd failed her.  I worried I might be failing the others.  I considered going back to work full-time and putting them all into public school.


At the end of the day though, the kids have a good plan.  It might not be my plan, but it isn't bad.

While I was worried about the doors that would be closed to them without college degrees, they were walking through the doors that were already open.

M (the son-in-law) found an entry level position that pays well enough to get them started, with lots of potential for moving up and into a career (actually in the same line of work as the Man of the House, but for the competition). G found a job she enjoys that keeps her busy, and adds to their income enough to let them build a savings toward the day when she can stay home.  They're staying true to their faith. They're pursuing hobbies and friendships that add to their growth. They have a cute apartment, with plans toward a little house, and a puppy...

… and I can accept that (even if I would have preferred that they had college degrees to fall back on...and a kitten).

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Dawn said...

Thanks for this. My husband and I have Bachelor degrees which we don't need for our jobs (stay at home wife and office clerk in a hospital). I have felt for some time that college wasn't going to be the right fit for our youngest son because he has a host of special needs and very low motivation (at this time) for college. Our daughter is looking at two year programs as a Sign Language interpreter and following her dreams of having a dance career. The cost of a 4 year college doesn't make sense with her dreams. We feel pretty comfortable with the current plan for both of them, but there is tons of pressure from "well meaning" relatives.
Blessings, Dawn

Phyllis said...

Yes, they all are unique individuals. Sometimes it is hard as a mom to know when we should step in to help and when we should let them go.

KLC said...

Encourage them to save and invest their money when they are young. At least they have the advantage of earning income at an early age and not having debt. They can become enterpreneurs without college degrees if they save enough to start a business.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

The good thing about youth is... everything is open. I admit that I cannot imagine A not going to college and I question sometimes what I will do if she decides not to go... but we'll cross that bridge if and when we get there. Wishing G much happiness in her married life!

Ticia said...

We've been looking at two of our kids potentially not going to college. One will probably go to a technical school of some sort for cooking, and the other will probably get some amount of college, but wants to be an author.