College is expensive, and it’s a good idea for everyone, not just homeschoolers, to consider alternatives that can save money. Community college is a great option for many people, at least financially, but community college does come with other costs. That’s why it’s important to consider more than just the great savings when you consider community college for your homeschool high school student.
In many ways, community college is a rated R environment. It’s designed for adults, not teens, and as a parent you don’t really have any say over what is taught, how it’s taught, or who is sitting next to your child in class. I’ve had community college admissions counselors advise me to warn parents that their children will be sitting in class next to adjudicated adults (i.e. sex offenders), and that parents need to be very careful about letting their high school aged children get involved on campus. Our own family’s experience with community college surprised us greatly: pornography was used in French and English class, and one of the teachers used the “F” word every day in normal conversation.
Another thing to keep in mind about community college is that the grades your student earns will be on their permanent record. If they fail a class, that will be recorded on their transcript, and any college they apply to will see that grade. If you are looking to community college as a way to get some outside documentation of your homeschool high school grades, be careful to choose classes that you are confident your child will be successful in. A poor grade from a community college will not help your efforts to corroborate your homeschool grades!
For homeschool students who have graduated and plan to go to university, community college can be a helpful way to get a student up to speed if they’re remedial in any areas. Classes are open to people of all abilities, and sometimes that will be just what your student needs to catch up. Some students graduate without the prerequisite foreign language credits to enroll in university, so community college might be a great idea for then. At the same time, the environment is still something to be cautious of, so even though the cost can be seductive—community colleges tend to be much less expensive than others—count the rest of the costs.
For homeschool students who didn’t particularly excel in high school, attending community college as a young adult sometimes changes the tide for them—as an adult learner, they are more motivated, and may take ownership of their education in that environment, without the full risks and repercussions of going away to a 4-year college. For these students, earning their AA degree prior to enrolling in a university can be just what they need to help them prepare and be successful in the future.
As homeschoolers, every family has the freedom to make the best choices for their family. All families are different, and have different needs and goals. But each of us is responsible for our children and our choices. Consider your alternatives, and choose wisely!