Saturday, May 26, 2012

How Unconventional! Hope for those who opt out of traditional college Part 1

Is anything we do "normal"?  Well according to the culture at large the answer would be a definite "NO".  Homeschooling in itself is certainly not "normal".  Although it has been gaining ground as more and more people realize the benefits of homeschooling.  I've been wondering if this might happen on the college front.  It is certainly "normal" for a high school senior to be planning out their next step.  In most cases the "normal" next step is to go to college.  Many aspire to go to be an engineer, teacher, medical professional or some other profession that requires a college education.  This is important!  Others go for a field in which just twenty years ago didn't need a college degree, but now they are available so why not go?  Others go without a clue for what they are spending all this money for, but alas, will decide once they have spent the first $20,000 of their parent's money or put themselves into great debt.  It is sad to see these young people floundering and not really sure what to do so the next logical step in their lives is college. 

Isn't this part of the problem in our culture?  We send our children to public school because it's the thing that we've been trained to believe is right and it is the same with college.  But as homeschoolers we are already "off the grid".   Perhaps we could call ourselves "unconventional".  That is true of what our family has been doing and as far as college goes we also fit into that mold.   This is our story.

Our oldest son completed his homeschool education in 2007.  He spent the year before graduation contemplating what he would like to do with his life.  He had been in the Boy Scouting program most of his life and had achieved the rank of Eagle.  Because of scouting he was interested in using the first aid and emergency preparedness skills he had learned.   About midway through his senior year he began to volunteer at our local fire department.  He made a good impression upon the woman who led the Explorers program and she began to tutor him in EMS.  After he turned 18, he joined the fire department and began taking classes to become an EMT.  Because he continued to work for the department they paid for all of his training.  Eventually he moved up to the highest level.  The department also sent him to the Fire Academy where he earned his fire fighting certification.  After working on the department for a few years he was hired on as a part time EMS worker at the Fire Academy where he had taken his classes.  All of his schooling had been paid for by his employers.

Most recently his love for rescue work led him in another direction.  After being settled into his position at the Academy,  he pursued yet another interest, police work.  Because he already had an interest in everything emergency related, he began going on "ride alongs" with officers on our local police department.  After about a year of this, off and on, the police chief asked him if he'd be interested in a job.  He passed all the required testing, was hired and sent to the Law Enforcement Academy for eighteen weeks and had it all paid for through his employment once again.    He recently graduated from the part time academy and is now working part time as a police officer, which works out well due to his fire academy job also being part time.  

In this economy it is very difficult for young people to take on debt to pay for their education when they don't even know if they'll get a job after graduation.  And this is terribly sad.   I share my son's experience, not to brag, although I'm very proud of him for all he has accomplished in these five years since he graduated, but to show there are ways, "unconventional" ways, to get an education and a job without great expense.   These experiences for him were more like apprenticeships.  They were also gifts from the Lord.  I thank the Lord for his mercies and provisions for my son.  Now I'm praying for his protection upon him as well. 

In part 2 of "How Unconventional", I'll share about my daughter's experiences. And how the Lord is providing for her as well. I hope these will encourage you to seek alternatives to college if that is your desire.

Happy Homeschooling!

My son receiving his Law Enforcement Diploma.

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