Home Educator's Family Times - Home Education & Family Services - Homeschool Support Network
December 2001
Volume 9, No. 6

Preparing for College - Choosing College Courses

By Shirley Minster © 2001

Attending college means facing challenges unique to the learning environment. The lessons learned and insights gained in professor/student relationships teach as much as the actual syllabus, perhaps even more. One challenge in particular that a student faces at least once in the college experience is what to do when there is a philosophical or moral disagreement with a professor and the syllabus of required reading and/or use of certain classroom materials. How the student chooses to work out this problem is important because he is learning how to work with individuals who do not believe as he does and how he handles the situation could greatly affect the course grade.
The following hints will help to make a smooth transition to college and to bypass some less-than-appropriate courses. The first hint is to preview the list of courses available first rather than I signing up for any course that fits my timeframe. College means making wise decisions that sometimes means I must taken on an unusual schedule for a time.

College counselors often help students pick the courses necessary to graduate with a specific degree, but parents should also be involved in helping their children choose the courses. To homeschooling parents, this is not unusual because they have been working as a team with their children in the educational arena for years and have been teaching critical thinking skills that include discussing what courses will be studied each year. A word of caution, though, regarding selecting college courses. It is not in the college student’s best interest to dictate which courses she will take. It often backfires because she may be so angry that she will not study, rationalizing, ?I really had no interest in the course my father and mother chose. Besides, ? she continues, ?they wanted me to take it because it sounded interesting to them, not me.? Prayerful guidance in choosing courses is the better way.

Over the years I have taken college courses in which my beliefs were radically different from the professor’s or fellow classmates’, but as an adult, I learned long ago how to separate the wheat from the chaff - the professor’s personal beliefs from the actual material. I have never been so offended that I have had to drop the class, but I imagine that that might happen some day.

Parents and students should try to read the syllabus for the course, if available, before choosing a course. Oftentimes this can be found on the college’s website. If the schedule and list of materials is not available, then read the course catalog description. One could also contact the college bookstore to learn the title of the core texts for this course and then look through the books.

By following the above few steps, students will feel more confident and in control of their college program. A natural result of this is that they will have a right frame of mind, accepting responsibility for their choices and shouldering the course load.

Next month I will cover how to handle philosophical and moral disagreements with college professors.

Shirley Minster is the Founder and Director of Home Education & Family Services and Royal Academy. For information about their programs or to contact Shirley, call 207-657-2800; royala@securespeed.net or visit the web site: http://www.homeeducator.com.

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