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Preparing for the unknown

Next year, my oldest child will be in 8th grade, which means I have one year to prepare to homeschool a high school student. Homeschooling through high school brings up all sorts of anxieties, not only because of the challenges of high school, but because you also have to prepare both your child for college–mentally, spiritually, and administratively.

There are a myriad of seminars, books, websites, etc. devoted to traversing the exciting world of high school transcripts, scholarships, grants, testing, and all the rest. It is overwhelming any way you look at it. But today, parents–both homeschooled and not–face another challenge: higher education is in the midst of change, and we’re not sure what things will look like when the dust settles.

We do know a few things about education in general and higher education in particular: It is on a bubble. You pay more to get less. A bachelor’s degree is worth the equivalent of what a high school degree was worth a generation ago. And a graduate degree is worth yesterday’s bachelors’s degree. And a high school degree? Forget about it.  While the value of a degree has deflated, the cost of higher education has inflated wildly—almost 5 times the rate of general inflation.

The result is that college graduates are saddled with outrageous debt and increasingly unprepared to procure a job necessary to pay that debt. Well, that’s just peachy. As Glenn Reynolds says, if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Things will change; they have to.

What might that change look like? Well, we’re seeing some of it now. This lengthy but well worth reading article points to an open source model that is already available to a large degree. How that turns into a standardized, measurable “degree” is yet to be worked out. Or perhaps it won’t be the old standard at all, it will be a totally new thing.

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As homeschoolers, I think we have the advantage on thinking outside the box when it comes to educational models because we’ve already crossed that bridge. We are ready to embrace the idea of open source education combined with internships, apprenticeships, or maybe something else entirely that we haven’t yet conceived. But something new is coming, and we need to be prepared to adapt to whatever that is.

So what is our plan? It’s still too early to tell. I’m pretty sure the changes coming to higher education will be well underway in 5 years when Little Miss is finishing up high school. But we’ll be watching and planning and most of all, not just blindly following the well worn path to a brick and mortar, over-priced, under-performing university. Because that model is broken, as it should be.


For more on the higher education bubble, check out Instapundit’s vast collection of stories that will surprise you and probably tick you off.

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