In the 21st century, we must think rightly about college admission. As Christian parents, you are responsible to God to raise your children as disciples of Jesus Christ. That is your only responsibility as a parent. You are to give them the education that God wills for them and it’s obvious, to any reasonable person, that this education is that which was established and commended to us by the saints and doctors of the Church. Living 2000 years into Christian Church history, only a fool would believe it’s a good idea to “design your own curriculum”, and I suppose you should keep going and design your own religion as well. You can give no justification for choosing a different educational program for your children, than the course of studies that has always been in place, unless you start talking about their future occupation in the world, which is none of your business.
Nevertheless, I would argue that 99% of Christian parents have no regard for the education of the saints, but make their educational decisions based entirely on worldly anxieties, which are sinful. The education of a child, a living soul made in the image and likeness of God, is not directed at God but is subjected to irrational fears about the future. Parents, ignorantly and irrationally, guess at what “colleges” will require of their children, and engineer their children’s education to gain the favor of a college admissions board somewhere over the rainbow.
We must think rightly about college admission.
Now, if the parents actually consulted the college admissions information, learned from them what was recommended, and pursued that, I might have some respect for them–but they do not do this. The colleges tell them, plainly, that they should give their children the most rigorous education they can find. The colleges tell them, plainly, that homeschooling is completely acceptable and needs no explanation. The colleges tell them that there is no specific program of studies required for college admission.
So, where does this robotic, false talk come from that leads us to not think rightly about college admission?
Rather than helping Christian parents make use of their freedom in Christ, modern schools and homeschool programs stir up ignorant fears of parents and use them as marketing gimmicks to make them think that if they don’t buy their “accredited” homeschool programs, they will run into trouble in the future. Remember, the colleges don’t say anything about any “accredited” homeschool programs, and it’s simply not true. The homeschool programs say this because they know the parents don’t know any better, and they know that to sell their worthless K-12 homeschool books, they must keep parents fearful.
Seton Home Study actually tells Catholic parents the following:
“Accreditation is especially important when applying to college. Credits from an accredited school will likely be viewed as much more important than credits from a non-accredited school. The reason is simple: colleges know that accredited schools maintain accepted standards. Colleges know nothing about credits from a non-accredited school.”
This is completely false, and are you telling me that you don’t require these homeschool programs to provide any evidence to support the things they are telling homeschool families? Well, I like to provide evidence for the things I tell homeschool parents.
Harvard University emphasizes that there is no specific curriculum recommended:
“There is no “one size fits all” rule about which curriculum to study during secondary school years.”
Princeton University requires no accreditation:
“We recognize that your experience as a home schooled student will be somewhat different from students in traditional schools. We’ll look at your academic record and nonacademic interests and commitments within the context of your particular home school curriculum and experience.”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) doesn’t even require a high school diploma:
“We do not require a high school diploma or GED from our applicants…Homeschooled applicants, like all of our applicants, are considered within their context, which includes schooling choice, family situation, geographic location, resources, opportunities, and challenges.”
Duke University respects family choices in education and states explicitly that accreditation is not necesssary:
“We understand that each individual family best decides the choice of curriculum…If the student has taken courses from a distance learning program, traditional secondary school, or any institution of higher education, we require official transcripts from these institutions. Applicants are not required to present a GED or proof of accreditation. “
Stanford University says:
“It is not necessary to follow a prescribed or approved home-schooling program.”
So, what are the folks at Seton and other Catholic homeschool programs talking about? Are these not the selective colleges out there? They’re not asking for any “accredited” homeschool coursess. In fact, no one is. I could provide a hundred quotes like these, but these show that even the most prestigious secular colleges in the world do not require or even recommend any high “accreditation”. If you, as a homeschool parent, use “accreditation” as an excuse for not giving your chlid a true Catholic education, you’re not fooling anyone.
Here’s what the colleges actually say to parents:
“One quality that we look for in all of our applicants is evidence of having taken initiative, showing an entrepreneurial spirit, and making the most of their opportunities. Many of our admitted homeschooled applicants really shine in this area. These students truly take advantage of their less constrained educational environment to take on exciting projects, go in depth in topics that excite them, create new opportunities for themselves and others, and more.”
“We look for students who have challenged themselves with rigorous study in a range of academic areas during their high school years.”
Notre Dame says:
“Our most competitive applicants are more than just students—they are creative intellectuals, passionate people with multiple interests. Above all else, they are involved—in the classroom, in the community, and in the relentless pursuit of truth.”
No one is recommending a boxed K-12 curriculum for homeschool students. They are seeking real students who seek truth and want to do great things in the real world. This gives homeschool students all the advantages in the world–but parents waste the opportunities and lazily stick the kids in a boring K-12 program designed to check the boxes of minimum requirements. This is exactly the opposite of what the colleges are seeking, but it makes tons of easy money for homeschool publishers.
Enough of this nonsense–let’s just get to the real issue and think rightly about college admission:
Haven’t you, in choosing to homeschool your children (which is pretty radical) already shown that you’re not afraid of the world? Haven’t you already shown that you know that educating your children according to your own faith and morals is your right and duty? Why, then, after choosing to homeschool, are you submitting yourself again to the worldly fears you’ve already overcome?
Don’t do it. It’s all false.
Your children need one thing from you: a beautiful, happy, heavenly, Christian education. Their souls need to be free to learn about God from God’s own word. They need to focus not on the needs of their bodies, which are easy to procure in this world, but on the needs of their souls, which are more difficult. They need to contemplate things that are spiritual and heavenly. This is not my opinion, this is what God has told us:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
To be even more specific, the Scripture tells us:
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
And, lastly, the words of Our Lord himself,
“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? If God so clothes the grass of the field, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6)
To whom do you think Our Lord is saying these things? What do you think the context is of these teachings? These very cares that drive Christians to terrible errors in education are the cares God is constantly calling us away from, telling us that we are not left to ourselves in this world to scratch and fight against others for the things we need. Only the devil would stir up in us anxiety about the future and pretend we needed to do something other than “seek first the kingdom of God and His rightsousnesss”.
Let’s think rightly about college admission.
If–and I stress IF–your children need to attend college, I recommend this approach to college admission. First, give your children the education that God commands you to give them. Raise them to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Second, having given them such an education, prepare your application materials with perfect honesty, proud of your Catholic faith and life. Third, rather than imagine that your children are being judged by the college receiving your application, know that the college is judging itself by its opinion of your child’s Christian education and culture.
If a college rejects a Christian education, you should reject that college.
If parents would apply to college with this right mindset, the college application would be very helpful for them. It’s like applying for a business loan. The bank is looking to profit by lending money, but it doesn’t want to risk losing its money. Therefore, the bank asks the business owner for documentation that shows how the business is doing, how the borrower plans to use the borrowed money, and what the likelihood is that the loan will be repaid. Now, a stupid person will lie during the application process to try and force the loan approval, and possibly obtain a loan that he, in truth, was not qualified for. A wise person will be perfectly honest in every detail, even that which might make him vulnerable to denial, and use the application process as a test for whether or not this loan is a good option for his business. Which of these is like the Christian parent applying for college admission? I simply advise Christian parents to live faithfully and apply to college honestly, using the application process to help them in making decisions.
Everyone knows that this is how we can think rightly about college admission.
Think Rightly about College Admission
Your only concern in education should be training your children in Catholic faith and morals. If you provide God with a well-taught and innocent soul, you have no idea how He may wish to use Him in the world–and that’s none of your business. What we see Catholic families doing in allowing sinful anxieties about college admission to direct their children’s education is foolish and, worst of all, it never produces any good result. The saints and doctors of the Church, along with the wise men of the ancient world, all commend to your children the study of the classical liberal arts, classical philosophy and Catholic theology.
If you don’t know what this education consists of, then you need to ask. Let’s be careful to think rightly about college admission.
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy