by Kimberly Snyder
I was homeschooled since the beginning—since the days of Hooked on Phonics cassette tapes and going to physical curriculum fairs to purchase schoolbooks.
Like many homeschoolers, my education was molded around the idea that just because everyone else was doing one thing (like going to public school), that didn’t mean it was the best for me. As homeschoolers, we know that just because our education looks different doesn’t mean we’re ruined. We know our life experiences and social skills are fine. We know homeschoolers, on average, score better academically than their public-schooled peers.
We’ve done so many things right. But, after twelve years or so, it’s over. We flip the tassel and close the chapter of our lives where we can think freely and critically about educational methods. Because, now it’s time to go to college. The unconventional methods don’t work anymore. Now we have to play by the rules of the game if we want to be successful.
Or do we?
Within the past few decades, colleges and universities have made massive strides to become a more foundational element of society than ever before. In almost direct correlation with the uptick of students pursuing college degrees, college tuition has reached an all-time high. The average tuition rate among all universities for the 2018–2019 school year was a staggering $23,030/year.1 Students in the class of 2019 graduated with an average of $29,900 of debt each.2 And it only gets worse every year.
Besides finances, consider also the great time sacrifice students make to procure a degree. At least four years—four of the best, healthiest, prime years of their lives—are spent pursuing a degree, with no guarantee of a decent job afterwards. Consider the political struggles of a conservative attending nearly any average university and the turmoil of a Christian student in an environment bent on breaking her worldview. This is the box into which society puts students. This is how to get a degree, they say. This is how to become successful, they say.
I say otherwise.
As a homeschooled high school junior, I began taking College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. As college-level work, these exams counted as “dual credit,” applying to both my high school and college transcripts. After a year of hard work, I graduated high school with more than thirty college credits, a quarter of the credits needed for a bachelor’s degree!
After high school graduation, I was broke. I knew if I wanted to finish my degree, I would have to save money. But, I didn’t even know what degree I wanted, or what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I took a “gap year.” After almost two years of ignoring college, traveling, and working various jobs that caught my fancy, I found myself 20 years old, teaching fourth-grade English in Taiwan, and finally having an idea of what degree to pursue and what I wanted to be.
Thanks to the amazing technology available, I started studying immediately and was able to earn eighteen more college credits from my apartment in Taiwan—in only three months. I came back to the United States after that and graduated sixteen months later with my bachelor’s degree in English from Thomas Edison State University.
Yes, I was homeschooled. Yes, I graduated college. No, I still haven’t been to a classroom.
In the end, my degree was made up of sixty-nine CLEP exam credits, twenty-six credits through alternative sources such as Study.com, and twenty-six credits via online courses administered through three different universities. I only took one course from my alma mater; everything else was transferred in.
I took most of my upper-level English courses through Harvard—all online. I attended poetry annotation workshops on Zoom video conferencing software. I’ve watched class lectures at twice the speed on YouTube to save time. The world is changing, and education is, too. But if I don’t tell you about the possibilities, who will?
I share my story so if you can’t afford a degree, you can know it is still possible to get one for under $8,000, debt free. I’m here to give you hope that just because you took a two- year break after high school, doesn’t mean you can’t graduate “on time”—I did. I’m here to let you know that what the box society claims is the only way for a good education and success, isn’t. This is how I homeschooled college.
1. https://www.collegeboard.org/releases/2018/trends-in-higher-education-reports-find- published-tuition-and-fees-in-grant-aid-for-students-continue-to-grow-at-moderate-rates
About Kimberly Kimberly Snyder is a 23-year-old Christian from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a professional wedding photographer, freelance writer, and works part-time in conservative politics. You can read more about her, as well as the nitty gritty behind how she earned her bachelor’s degree for under $8,000, in two-and-a-half years, all while traveling the world and living her dreams, on her website, DegreeHackers.org.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.