Since returning to homeschooling after the ninth grade, I have been convinced that nearly any field of study can be completed from home. In our dynamic, technology-centered society, there are many means of obtaining a career without sacrificing family, time, gas, and other precious commodities. The double advantage includes typically lower tuition costs and a possibly a debt-free education.
Everyone has not had the privilege of my experience; and to impress principles on others separate and apart from the scenarios that led me to these conclusions would be unreasonable. So I will instead share my experience with you, and piece by piece, explain what I learned from those various scenarios, namely, that post-secondary education...
...does not have to be longer than is necessary to gain competency.
...does not have to put me in debt.
...does not have to be specialized.
At the end of ninth grade, I was given this choice: continue to attend my high school, or return to homeschooling with my brothers. I originally intended to maintain my matriculation at my non-denominational private high school; I was on the honors track in English, history, and science. I would graduate with college credits in six courses. I would be in journalism club - an awesome asset to my college admissions resume. I would have real science labs. :-)
But I turned my back on that. Why? I don't know. Something to do with watching homeschooled kids play with my brothers in the park. And perhaps the fact that they attended a church pastored by my Latin teacher, and formerly hosting our homeschool co-op. It was a decision of whim, but still a decision of purpose. I went home knowing that I would be my own guidance counselor; so I immediately began researching for schools, major maps, and admission policies.
Due to a particular pet peeve - that of dorming far away from family - I discovered something during my research that annoyed me.
Point No. 1: Many of the course one takes in school are not related to one's major. In other words, much time is lost and wasted studying grades 13 and 14. As I compared New York Univerisity's and Suffolk's journalism majors with English composition majors at small private colleges in Georgia, I learned that not much varied until junior year. While I love school, I also appreciate practical; and I found no purpose in studying journalism for "four years" only to graduate with two years worth of journalism credits. And yes, even Associate's degrees have general education requirements. Only the University of Massachussetts offers a strictly journalism certificate.
So I saw that much of my tuition and time would have been wasted studying advanced high school courses. (Hence the mission of CLEP and AP.) Instead, I chose to take the most direct route possible to gain sufficient competency.
Point No. 2: College is too expensive. That fact alone pressured me to drop NYU as a study option, in spite of the spectacular journalism program and vast possibilities in that field while living in New York. That also, with the changing spiritual atmosphere, led me to dismiss Washington Adventist University - my dream school - from my list. (In seventh grade, I emailed the school, informing them of my interest in attending their school in five years, and requesting that they add a journalism program to their school. They did.)
Instead, I was able to complete my Certificate in Journalism with $0.00 of debt.
Point No. 3: Don't feel limited to one field. Near the end of my semester with UMass, I saw a job posting for the local newspaper office. Isn't that awesome to have a job opening just as you round out school? But I turned it down on the basis that in our small town where there is no city hall, I would be assigned to the crime stories. (Journalism is very apprenticeship-based, and city hall and crime watch are two buzzing-with-activity beats that will afford a new journalist with plenty of experience.) However, turning down that opportunity meant that I had no job - until my dad offered me a web design project.
I had always wanted to minor in web design. But my intention was really to specialize in online journalism or the like. Never had I intended to separate my two interests into web design and journalism buckets. While I did at first lament the fact that I had spent thousands of dollars and months of time studying something, only to work in a different trade, I was since realized the benefits. Should I not have writing opportunities, I can code and design; and vice versa. Not to mention, experience in both the humanities and STEM versus just one or the other affords me a more balanced education, and thus, character.