The life of a homeschool parent means spending a lot of time rejecting the school system, defending counter-culture decisions to naysayers, and gaining self-confidence to be different in a very public way.
Yet after fifteen years of this behavior, parents make the irrational decision to send their kids to college when it's clear that college is just a repackaged version of failing schools in the US.
In case you think you have some research that shows a college degree makes for a good life, here is a detailed retort against the people trying to prove the value of college still, somehow, exists.
But you probably don't need research. You can read the editorial in USA Today about how the board of directors at Penn State has not been able to bring themselves to take down a prominent statue on campus of Joe Paterno. The courts have already heard testimony that he knew about child molestation from his coaching staff and did not report it. And now it's been shown that the school's football team benefited immensely from Paterno's silence on the matter.
You'd think this would be enough to shut down the football program and regroup. But it's not even enough to take down a statue of Paterno. Because so much of college is about sports. This is a stark example of how the sports culture in college has eclipsed all other values, and when you pay for college, you're paying for something else besides coursework.
So it might be good news to hear that Open Culture has a detailed analysis on why the university system will not last even another twenty years because the financial structure is a house of cards: Nearly 100% of students are taking out loans and far less than half those students are paying back the loans. Meanwhile, the cost of college is doubling every nine years. So here's what to do about using the idea of college as a homeschool crutch:
1. Recognize that parents, not kids, choose to go to college.
Yet in the face of all of this, homeschoolers still talk about college as an end goal.
This is true for me, too. The inevitability of college is a frequent backdrop for discussion in our family. But I scoff at the public school system—I'm totally happy to let my kid play in dirt all day. I have one of the most anti-school approaches to homeschooling yet I still tell my kids insidious, indoctrinating things like, "You can have Pepsi with dinner when you go away to college."
Homeschooler thinking is that the college degree is proof that homeschooling works. People tell me that I should stop writing about how parents should approach college because it's really the kid's decision, but really, the parents are the ones pushing college from an early age. It's like religion—by the time kids are old enough to choose, they've been indoctrinated.
2. Admit that college is a crutch for homeschool parents.
But for parents, college is the seal of approval for the parents' decision to take the kids out of mainstream schooling. Which means that the homeschooler's we're-going-to-college mentality is probably more for the parents than the kids.
University of California strategy professor Steve Postrel says that people pay for college precisely because education is terrible. On StrategyProfs, Postrel suggests people are paying exorbitant tuition out of desperation to validate the idea that somehow the seal of approval from an education system still matters and their kid has it.
Parents want to believe that while kids are not employable when they are 17, if they go to college for four years, then they are employable. Of course, this line of thinking has been debunked a million times. College does not make someone employable. And Will Richardson, speaking at the International Society for Technology in Education said, "While countless Americans can't find jobs, countless companies can't find workers." And Peter Thiel's foundation to help kids drop out of college is the technology sector's vote against college.
3. Take responsibility for your kid's first career instead of dumping the task on colleges.
It's scary to send a kid out into the world without a college degree. Because then the parents really need a plan to help the kid become employable. If you can't dump the kid in college and say it is the college's responsibility to get the kid a job, then homeschooling becomes about the job hunt.
Which is probably what it should be. Parents are big on saying that kids are learning about themselves and learning about the world. But that's what a good career is, too—learning about yourself and having a challenging learning curve.
If there were less of a black line between the joys of homeschooling and the seriousness of work, then I think more of us could take responsibility for making our kids employable. This would also take a huge burden off of the homeschool parents who spend fifteen years bucking the system that's free and then paying insanely high fees to get into the system when it costs money.