Should Your Homeschool Graduate Go to College?

A portion of the Brooklyn College campus (click for credit)

I just got back from the Texas Homeschool Convention, which took place in Round Rock, Texas. I gave three talks and spent a lot of time speaking with homeschooling parents and homeschooled students. I always enjoy my time at conventions like this one, and I am sorry to say that I am done with my convention appearances this year. However, I am already scheduled to speak at all Great Homeschool Conventions next year, as well as the ICHE conference in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

During one of my talks, I got a question that I was happy to answer at the time, but I thought I would also answer it here. As near as I can remember, the question went like this:

With all the anti-Christian sentiment that exists on college campuses, should we even send our children to college? If so, should it be only to Christian schools?

Let me start by saying that while the mood on many college campuses (including several that call themselves “Christian”) is definitely anti-Christian, it doesn’t really affect the students that much, at least not in terms of their commitment to their faith. As I have discussed previously (here and here) studies show that those who go to college are more likely to retain their faith than those who do not. Thus, if you are worried about your child “losing faith” in college, that is the exception, not the rule.

Now having said that, let me also say that there are way, way, way too many students attending college these days. As someone who has been teaching at the university level for more than 30 years, I can assure you that MOST students should not go to college, because they don’t need it. In my opinion, there are two reasons a student should go to college:

1. The student is just a natural scholar and loves to learn.

2. The student has a career path planned that requires a college degree.

If a student doesn’t meet one of those two criteria, the student is mostly likely wasting his or her time, along with a few buckets of money. Most students would benefit more from going to a trade school or joining the workforce. Some of them might eventually go to college, after their real-world experience ends up giving them one of the two criteria listed above.

So…let’s suppose your child meets one of those two criteria. He or she should go to college, but should it be a Christian college or a secular college? That depends on the student. Some students (myself included) experience an enormous amount of spiritual growth at secular colleges, mostly because we thrive when our faith is challenged. There are others, however, who will grow more at Christian colleges.

This is where you, as a homeschooling parent, have a distinct advantage. You know your children much better than most parents. Thus, you are in a perfect position to help them in choosing their college environment. Ask yourself how your student will react to having his or her faith challenged pretty much on a daily basis. That will tell you what kind of college your child should attend.

Also, please note that you cannot believe a college is Christian simply because it says it is. Over the years, I have experienced many “Christian” schools promoting decidedly anti-Christian ideologies. Thus, if you think your college-bound child will thrive best at a Christian college, you should make it a point to visit the campus, ask the officials hard questions about social and theological matters, and have your child ask some current students about their evaluation of the Christian nature of the school.

I will end with this piece of advice, which is probably the most important: Regardless of the type of college you choose for your college-bound student, make sure he or she is an active part of an ON-CAMPUS Christian fellowship group (like Intervarsity, Navigators, Cru, etc.). This doesn’t replace church, but it is vital for your child to have access to likeminded brothers and sisters who have experienced “that professor” or “that situation” and can help your child deal with it. In my opinion, being an active part of an on-campus fellowship group is significantly more important to your student’s spiritual life than whether the college is Christian or secular.

8 thoughts on “Should Your Homeschool Graduate Go to College?”

  1. Thank you for this well written answer! Would you give me permission to post it in our Minnesota State e-newsletter? DM me ?
    Thank you!

    1. For anyone who might read Molli’s comment, please feel free to reprint this in any way. However, I do want you to credit me for the work, and if you can send me the finished product, that would be great. There is a contact form you can use to get my email address.

  2. Excellent advice! I just wanted to add that Reformed University Fellowship is another Christian on-campus group that meets in many colleges across the U.S.

      1. Thank you! There is also the Newman Center on campus ( for Catholic faith).
        A robust community & friendship & faith.

  3. I personally think college/university is a waste of money. People get outrageous student loans for what is typically a sup-par education and then spend at least half their lives paying off that debt. In my opinion, many university professors become complacent and/or focused more on ideological politics than education, and stay comfortable in their tenured positions. Personally, I think if you are a natural scholar and love to learn, your time would be better spent in a library than a university classroom. If you have a career path planned that requires a college degree, you can do it online for much cheaper with more flexibility. My hope is that in the near future, most jobs that now require a degree with be obtainable through direct workplace training, so that individuals can learn on the job while earning money. Many of us learn better through hands on experience than from a classroom setting, which is one of the many reasons homeschooling is the best education option.

    1. I don’t think college/university is a waste of money for those who meet the criteria I mentioned. I do agree that you can learn a lot on your own, but in-depth learning requires discourse among students and those who are advancing the fields that are being studied (professors). In some cases, this can be done online, but in others, it cannot. I could never properly train students to pursue a career in chemistry online. I can teach a few chemistry classes online, but that is all. Now…I do agree that when it comes to many careers, hands-on training is superior to college/university. However, in many fields, it is not. The academic fields where you are truly exploring the “cutting edge” need academic knowledge as well as hands-on training. In those cases, college/university is superior to job training.

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