Traditional college is expensive and it is exhausting especially for students with chronic illness. College professors are not nearly as accommodating as high school teachers. Multiple assignments and exams can all be due at the same time. Many intelligent students with chronic illness have difficulty succeeding in a traditional college setting. So, what can you do? You should consider home college!
College at home is a unique and individualized approach to higher education
for any student, but is especially helpful and adaptable for students with
chronic illness, such as chronic Lyme disease. The main concept of home college is that the student and parent as advisor are in control of the educational plan. The degree earned is regionally accredited (the good type of accreditation) and accepted by employers. And this path is way less expensive than the traditional path.
Does it really work? Yes! Dr. Richey's children earned their college degrees using various ideas with home college. Her son graduated with a BS Microbiology from The Ohio State University. Her daughter graduated with a BS Psychology from Liberty University at 18 yo. Her other daughter graduated with an AA Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University.
So, how does it work?
You start by selecting an end-point college (EPC). It is most helpful if the EPC readily accepts a wide variety of credits from a wide variety of sources. Most students choose Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey and Liberty University in Virginia due to their liberal transfer policies. You will most likely not be attending college in person so the location does not matter. Instead, you will be transferring credits to them and taking their online classes. Dr. Richey's daughters chose Liberty University primarily for their Christian worldview.
Then, you select your degree. It is most economical if the degree is more generalized rather than specialized. Dr. Richey's daughter chose BS Psychology because she wanted to be a ballet instructor with her own study and this degree would help her understand her students and their parents. Dr. Richey's other daughter chose AA Interdisciplinary Studies where she designed her own degree which included American Sign Language and Theatre. They never had to actually go to Virginia to attend classes in person.
If the EPC does not have a degree program that you are interested in, then select another EPC which offers your degree program and which has a good transfer policy. Dr. Richey's son was interested in BS Microbiology from The Ohio State University. For this choice, he had to attend classes for his major at their university.
Next, print out the transfer policy for your EPC so that you know how many credits can be transferred in from which sources. Often, there are separate policies for CLEP tests and for ACE courses (see below).
Then, print out the degree plan and study it carefully. You will see general education credits that usually can be taken most anywhere. You will also see major classes. These classes may be taken online or they may need to be taken in person at the EPC.
Let's start with the general education classes. These classes generally consist of English, Math, Social Sciences (such as Psychology, Sociology and History), Humanities (such as Philosophy, Communication, Religion, and Fine Arts), and Electives. Each college has their own requirements for gen ed classes. Print out the gen ed requirements for your EPC.
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) allows the student to take a test for about $100 (test and proctoring) and receive either 3 or 6 college credits. What a bargain! You study for the test on your own according to your own timetable using any materials that are applicable, but most test takers find the REA study guides to be the most helpful. CLEP tests are NOT tricky; they test basic knowledge. You just need a scaled score of 50 to pass although individual colleges may require a high score.
Straighterline courses are for those folks who need a bit more guidance. These courses are also extremely affordable; they are only about $49 each with a $99 monthly membership fee. Most students can finish 1 course per month. The student purchases their recommended college textbook, reads assignments, and takes quizzes or tests (which are usually open book). You just need a score of 70% to pass the course.
ALEKS courses are an awesome alternative for college math classes. The fee is just $19.95 per month; most students finish a course in one month if they already have basic knowledge of the subject. You just need a score of 70% to pass the course.
Straighterline and ALEKS courses are then banked at American Council for Education (ACE) for later transfer to the EPC. CLEP courses can be transferred directly to the EPC. These courses are all completed at the students own pace as tolerated by the chronic illness.
Another option is to take gen ed courses at a local community college. Community colleges are generally quite affordable compared to major universities and the professors generally want to help the students succeed. The main problem with this option is that you must adhere to the class schedule in spite of your chronic illness. Still, there may be good reason to take these classes on a part-time basis. For example, Dr. Richey's son needed in person science courses for his degree plan at his EPC, and her daughter wanted to take theatre classes as part of her degree plan.
Upper level courses are generally not available through the above options; they must usually be taken at some university - either the EPC or another college and transferred in to the EPC. However, you can often take these courses online with a reduced course load. You save money by not residing at the college, but living at home instead with support from family.
These home college ideas can apply to any student who is interested in saving money and avoiding debt, too.
The Yahoo Group called CLEPforHomeschool is a vital tool in providing assistance for those students and parent advisors on this educational journey.
If you are interested in knowing more about home college or if you need help with home college, then you may be interested in educational consultations with Dr. Richey. Hourly rates are just $50 per hour. Please contact her to schedule your educational consultation.