Home Educated Post-Secondary Students: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 7)

How do the home educated end up? Are they weird? Can you tell that they have been home educated? Do they have a target on their back that says “loser”? Are they productive members of society? Can they handle post-secondary level courses?

Actually, home educated students are generally the same as those who are school educated, with one notable difference.

Like every other group, there are winners and losers. There are some home educated who swear by home education and others who swear at home education! There are some incredibly good home education stories, but there are some very sad ones too.

I would love to manipulate your understanding and tell you things are all good with home education and the home educated, but that would require me to have bad motives. The truth is, I cannot guarantee that home education will eliminate the heartaches and grievances the rest of the world has to endure. We actually live in the same world.

Home education is not the panacea or antidote to all the evils of the world, but it is the best way to at least minimize the potential wrecks we see in this world. Let’s just say that since children are made “at home” by parents, they are likely best educated at home by those same parents.

I don’t believe that any caring person wants to see students become wrecks, but it happens. Indeed, the very reason that parents decided to home educate is to eliminate the risk of wrecks. Home educating parents will never eliminate wrecks, but they will greatly reduce the potential of students making the wrong decisions.

It would be unfair to say that school teachers want to direct students into making bad decisions.

It is, however, fair to say that a system designed and delivered by a disconnected government bureaucracy will want to have students serve government rather than God. That is one of the biggest differences between the schooled and the home educated.

A solid biblical foundation of what God has decreed to be right and wrong will go a long way towards building a solid life.

This is not to say that all home educated students are raised in a Christian environment, nor am I saying that secular home educators have a greater potential for failure. I am saying that children equipped with a knowledge of the truth will make more solid decisions respecting life.

A faith foundation aside, home educated students, whether instructed within a Christian or secular environment will, on average do better, as parents are better qualified to meet the individual needs of their children.

Even the very best teacher simply cannot be mom or dad. Again, this is not to say that teachers will not influence students, whether positively or negatively, but teachers may not share a common worldview and objective with parents. Regardless, there is no replacement for the unconditional love of a parent for a child.

Home educated students are generally more confident in themselves and more certain about what they want. They have usually taken personal responsibility for their own education at an early age and generally have a better work ethic.

Not only do the home educated usually surpass their school peers in academic abilities and confidence, but generally display a higher level of overall maturity, which is that one notable difference mentioned earlier.

I have advocated post-secondary admission of unaccredited home educated students at post-secondary institutions across Canada for many years.

This longstanding direct experience has brought me to the understanding that the home educated generally do better, on average, than their school counterparts. They may initially display a need to become acquainted with the “school” nature of post-secondary institutions, but they quickly learn, adapt and rocket to the top of the class.

In fact, the most common concern I get from admissions people is that the home educated tend to be overachievers. How that can be seen as an issue has remained a mystery to me to this day!

I could tell you dozens of stories about the incredible success of the home educated.

These stories would not just be about those who have gone on to institutions of higher learning, but also about those who went to work and were quickly promoted to management, those who started successful businesses, and those who chose to serve their fellow man in some way, not to mention those who chose to advance family over career.

After over forty years of real experience in pretty well every manner and method of education I can say, without reservation, that there is no better preparation for life than being home educated.

I can also unequivocally state that my faith in God and experience in home education has led me to have no doubts about the home educated’s potential for success and there are plenty of objective studies to back this up.

The home educated are still free to make bad decisions, which does occasionally happen. But even without the government’s accreditation and approval they end up doing just fine.

Gaining University Admission: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 6)

Universities are generally more arrogant than colleges and technical institutions, thinking that they have all the “high end” programs. We have all heard horror stories about how these institutions have wreaked havoc with students and parents over their perceived need for properly accredited students.

One has to keep in mind that, just like arrogant people, arrogant universities want you to believe they know more than they do. Generally speaking, they have no idea of the power of home education.

Home educated students know how to read! This may seem like a silly statement, but there are students who complete high school without being fully literate. This doesn’t happen at home because mom won’t let it happen.

Ivy League institutions in the United States realized this early and started recruiting the home educated, years ago.

Unlike colleges and technical institutions which often have limited space in prescribed programs, universities are generally institutes of higher learning where students collect courses towards a degree.

There are certain obligatory courses that must be obtained, along with optional courses to arrive at the right combination for a specific degree. Understanding how this works makes university admission much easier, especially when desiring to go to one of those big “arrogant” ones.

Since degrees are granted on the basis of the collection of courses, if those courses can be taken in another institution, you are wise to go to a friendlier university to start and then transfer these courses into the arrogant one later on.

Last week, I mentioned how the portfolio was initially invented and advanced by me and how it was robbed and sabotaged. Although we were initially discouraged by this event, we quickly found a much better solution to facilitate the post-secondary admission of non-accredited home educated students.

Insisting on being evaluated using the alternate admission criteria of an institution of higher learning, then presenting a well-documented transcript, proved to be a much simpler and more effective way to gain admission.

I must admit that I am very proud of the cumulative, online transcript we invented for students using Education Unlimited for their home education program.

These transcripts have been very well received. In fact, I am not personally aware of these transcripts having ever been rejected, when they have been delivered to the institution of choice using our sophisticated encrypted digital delivery method.

Making sure that you have the appropriate courses that meet the prerequisites of the institution and program of choice, and then to properly document it in our transcript, has been a successful formula for our students, but there is one other thing that needs to be in place.

Every new adventure usually causes anxiety. Anxiety is largely caused by things we think we have no control over. Putting yourself under the “authority” of an admission person can encourage him or her to get a false sense of self-importance, which may result in an unpleasant admission process.

If the university was paying you to attend, then they would have a greater claim to what you have to do. The truth is you are the one paying them. You are the client. They are providing you a service.

This is not to say that you can negotiate admission criteria, but if you talk to them with a “golly-gee, cap-in-hand, please-feel-sorry-for-me-approach,” you empower them to be more miserable or demanding.

You are the customer. If you were buying a car, you would not be going to a single dealership and allowing the salesman to tell you what you want and how you will get it, now would you?

If you know what you want, have a positive attitude and the confidence that you will succeed in getting it, you are much more likely to do so. I certainly discourage students from shopping for a career, but I do encourage shopping for an institution that will give you value for your money.

Far too many people have put universities in an almost god-like position and allowed them to dictate what students will do. Perhaps, it is time for confident, self-assured, unaccredited home educated students who understand the “university” game to play as the winners that they are.

Gaining College Admission: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 5)

Everybody is an expert in something. Some feel they are experts in most things.

I say this because we once had a great way of preparing unaccredited home educated students for post-secondary admission, but the idea was stolen, sabotaged and made useless. I am talking about the portfolio.

We taught parents and students how to make a simple portfolio of accomplishments within a home education program. We developed it on a KISS principle which was to keep it straight and simple.

It started with a résumé, expanded to a transcript and ended with specifics on pertinent subjects. It was simple, easy to use and mostly accepted by registrars and admissions personnel.

This happened a long time ago, when most everybody was sending their children to school to be completed with credits to meet the standard admission criteria of colleges, etc. Wanting to help the home education community, I naively presented my secrets at the provincial conference.

A mom who was not a part of our organization, but rather an integral part of another that did not have experience with moving unaccredited students to college found the idea fascinating.

By carefully following my directives, she managed to create portfolios for her two children who were then accepted into college on their strengths.

Unfortunately, this success got to her head and she presented her board with her finding as though it was uniquely her idea. Normally we would call this theft, but the portfolio idea was shared with the objective of helping others.

What should have been a good thing for the home education community became a problem. It was not that the portfolio idea did not work in gaining admission. The problem was that this wannabe leader thought that a good thing would become better with more.

What began as a simple little half inch portfolio most admission people found helpful, grew and evolved to became a four inch scrapbook that represented every detail of everything the student had done or even hoped to do.

There was not an admissions person anywhere who had the time, nor the inclination to review a giant tome of useless material. My great idea was destroyed and portfolios were no longer accepted by most institutions which had come to equate portfolios with a lot of work, time and energy.

Is there a moral to this story? Yes. First, one always has to be wary of self-appointed experts, as their focus is usually more a matter of self-aggrandizement than the welfare of others.

More related to our topic, the lesson is that most solutions are not complicated. Most of the time, very little needs to be done to meet the admission criteria of college programs.

Admission to college is accomplished by presenting what the college needs to properly evaluate your potential for success in the program. This is especially so with prescribed one, two and three year programs usually offered in colleges and technical institutions.

Since English proficiency is always required, make sure your English skills are good. Need math, biology or chemistry? Again – no problem. It does not have to be 30 level courses. Prove that you have the required skills by having followed a different program.

There are a number of ways to meet those requirements and if you have not done that within your home education program, do it some other way. Remember that going to school to get those missing courses is a silly way of going backwards in order to advance.

If biology is a requirement that you don’t have, take an online course from a reputable university or college. Make sure that it can be transferred to the college you want to attend.

The good thing about doing it this way is that, not only do you demonstrate proficiency, but you are likely to be able to apply the course to your program, eliminating the need to take that first year course.

Alternatively, you could always challenge the institution’s first year biology program, and if successful, establish your proficiency while already having completed a course required within the program.

Understanding that colleges are businesses looking for people who will pay tuition for the entire program is critical to understanding why they are so fussy about who they accept for the prescribed programs.

Students who fail or quit the first year of a two year program will not be paying tuition for the second year of the program. This creates opportunity for a resourceful student to go directly into the second year of a two year program.

Why go through the pain of creating a four inch solution for a half inch problem?

Understanding College Admissions: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 4)

Once it is determined that you need to attend some institution of higher learning as part of your career plans, you will have to investigate what it will take to gain admission. I need to remind you that I addressed this issue earlier in this series and suggest you go back and review this information before proceeding.

Institutes of higher learning have rules for entry which vary from program to program. These are known as prerequisites which usually include specific courses you will need, to show you have sufficient knowledge to succeed in the program of choice.

Diplomas may be mentioned as needed, but they are not necessary, as it is not so much a requirement, as a measure of your ability to finish what you have started. Having completed a home education program is certainly proof that you can finish what you started.

No institution in Canada, that I am aware of, will refuse a student who does not have a diploma.

Every student in this province is given an Alberta Student Number (ASN) to which are attached records including a provincial transcript and whether or not a diploma has been awarded.

Home educated students who have avoided provincial programming (credits) at the secondary or high school level have an ASN like most every other student, but will not have this transcript or diploma, which is actually a good thing.

All students who have earned at least some credits will have a transcript created in their name associated with their ASN.

It is very important to understand that any transcript containing some but not all the required credits for a diploma may actually be a hindrance to post-secondary admission as it could come with the stigma of being a dropout or of not being able to finish what you started.

For this reason, we very highly recommend that home educated students stay away from public programming.

Please listen carefully! Colleges, technical institutes, universities, etc., have two sets of admission criteria: one for students who have attended government sponsored schools where students work towards credits and diplomas, (known as standard admission criteria), and one for those students who have not.

Alternate admission criteria is used when assessing any student who has not followed provincial programming, including inter-provincial, international and home educated students.

If you have followed standard government programming and earned the correct combination of credits to earn your Alberta High School Diploma, you will be assessed for admission using standard admission criteria.

If you have earned credits, but not enough to earn the diploma, you will also be assessed using standard admission criteria, but you may encounter some challenges, which are not insurmountable, as long as you have good marks in the requisite courses.

Unaccredited home educated students are not any more disadvantaged than their public school counterparts, but usually have to help admission personnel understand the need to assess them using their alternate admission criteria. This is often simply done by informing the admission person of the fact that you have been home educated.

If the institution you are applying to is a large one, it may be necessary to ask for a more senior person to assess your qualifications for enrolment. Alternate admissions are often handled by those who have more experience with registrations.

Diplomas aside, whether using standard or alternate admission criteria, every post-secondary institution will have prerequisites for entry into all their programs. Prerequisite courses are non-negotiable and they should not be treated as unnecessary.

Usually these are communicated in the language of school, such as English, Math or Biology at the 30 level, but once again, this is a standard measure of subject proficiency. It is not that they require 30 level courses, but rather a certain level of understanding of a particular subject.

Home educated students need not concern themselves with these specific 30 level requirements as you should be assessed using alternate admission criteria. However, you will have to demonstrate that you have an equivalent or better level of training.

Keep in mind that home education programs usually have a much higher level of academic rigour than school programs, so it should not be difficult to prove that you have the equivalent to school-based 30 level programs.

Once you clearly understand how post-secondary institutions of higher learning work, you need only ascertain that you have what it takes to be accepted and to succeed at the program being taken.

Registrars are looking for the best candidates to fill the limited seats in their institution. Your job is to convince them that you are one of those candidates.

Work, Business or Apprenticeships: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 3)

Now that we have established that everybody is post-secondary bound and that all careers, jobs and placements are important, let’s discuss the matter of what has to happen to get beyond the post-secondary level to the world of adulthood.

Simply put, what is needed is training. No matter which way or where you go in life, if everybody is post-secondary bound, then everyone will need to specialize in some skills, somehow.

There are two possibilities for obtaining these needed skills: with or without further institutional training.

Some folks simply go to work, like their jobs and stay there. Training will likely be required to learn how to do the job. It may be “on-the-job-training,” but training nonetheless, even if it does not involve attending an institution of higher learning.

A job may require taking a few courses in order to safely do the required tasks, such as special licenses, safety training or first aid. These courses are available to everyone, regardless of the academic level attained in their learning program.

There are other placements that require little, if any additional institutional training, including taking over the family farm or fishing business, or other family enterprise. It is not that you won’t be learning in this case, just that you will not need to go to school.

It is important to understand that even though we can and do learn on our own, it almost always involves other people. Some are paid professionals delivering courses, while others are simply those who are more experienced, teaching the less experienced.

This can be “unofficial” as in a parent teaching and training a child, or a co-worker teaching you the skills required for the job, or more “official,” such as going through an apprenticeship.

Either way, to be mentored is likely the best way to be trained as it is always directly related to the task at hand. There is no specific academic level required to be mentored.

Apprenticeships are a great way to use the power of mentorship to gain skills and knowledge in a specific field.

Some apprenticeships can be conducted outside of official government programs, such as an experienced artist teaching a novice. The most common and well known apprenticeships are administered through a provincial or national board directing students through a process that results in a license to do the job.

Some trades such as electricians, plumbers and mechanics are required to be trained in this way, while others such as carpentry, millwright and bakers are not required, although encouraged to do so.

Any trade that requires a license in order to practice will likely require some combination of on-the-job and school based learning.

Although there are different requirements for different trades, it is pretty safe to say that if a student has a school grade equivalent of level ten, he or she is likely ready to do an apprenticeship.

Keep in mind that a school grade level ten is not a very high standard and that most home educated students are easily beyond that level by the time they are old enough to start working at age sixteen.

The process for engaging in an apprenticeship is simple. Get a job working within a trade. If you like it, work hard and show yourself capable and dependable. Then ask your employer to sponsor you in an apprenticeship.

Once the paper work is done, you will need to collect enough hours on the job before applying to attend school.

Depending on the trade, you may have to do an entrance exam to be able to proceed. This is done in order to ascertain that you have the potential to succeed at trade school and should not cause you any anxiety.

I understand that many of you who are good with your hands don’t usually like the “book learning” approach, but take confidence in the fact that any test required for an apprenticeship, indeed the entire process, was likely created by people who don’t like tests, for people like you, who may even hate them!

Also keep in mind that the reason you likely did not like tests was that a lot of the tests you have written actually had nothing to do with “life” as you saw it! Shakespeare is not really connected to plumbing, if you know what I mean.

Tests associated with the apprenticeship processes are meaningful as they are testing what is needed to practice the trade. In other words, there is a practical application of what is being tested, to what you are learning and doing.

I suggest you go to our web site under Resources and click on Apprenticeships for a more detailed description of what is involved.

General Post-Secondary Issues: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 2)

The most common educational hang ups are a result of the unquestioned authority of government over parents in education. This seemingly universal acceptance leads us to believe that unless the government has approved of our education, we have no education, no passport to the post-secondary level, and no hope for the future.

Somehow not getting a high school diploma has been equated with educational “suicide”! This is an urban legend. Please understand that a high school diploma is simply NOT necessary to advance in life.

The one and only thing that can be said of this diploma is that it took at least twelve years to get. No other guarantee given or implied!

If and when a diploma is requested by either an employer or a post-secondary institution, simply assure them that you have been well educated at home, that you are able to meet challenges head-on and that you complete what you have started. These three assurances are what is being sought for by those who request it.

Now that we have dealt with the myth of having to have a diploma to advance in life, let me repeat myself again by emphasizing the importance of not going to any institution of higher learning unless it is absolutely necessary. Many of these places are bastions of Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian philosophies and political beliefs. Proceed with caution, if you have to.

Should you desire or need to go to a post-secondary institution, be sure that you are properly equipped with a defensible Christian worldview. You will need to be able to stand on your own spiritual two feet or you could be sucked into a godless vortex.

When you have understood that you do not require a diploma and have determined that you need or want to go to an institute of higher learning, and you are spiritually prepared for what will come your way, you will need to proceed with applying for admission. Before doing this, there a few things that you should know.

Several years ago, when we were just starting to advance the acceptance of unaccredited home educators into the post-secondary arena, I became involved with the admission process of a 25 year old student. He had been home educated, completing a program of high academic rigour and had been in the work force for several years when he decided to apply for admission to a two year technical program.

Unsurprisingly, the institution rejected him for not having standard high school credits. He then asked to see the registrar to ascertain what could be done to fix the problem.

I had a good relationship with the registrar at that time so he contacted me for advice.

It turned out that he was not nearly as concerned about the student’s academic qualifications as he was about his having been accompanied to the interview by his mother, who had dominated the conversation. He wondered if the student was mature enough to handle what was needed for success.

Really? Was Mom needed to defend her twenty-five year old son or was she defending her decision to home educate? Neither was or is necessary.

There is a moral to this story. Unless you are prepared to do the entire admission process by yourself, without the need to have your parents back you up or defend you, don’t even start.

Speaking of interviews, let me make a few suggestions for success, aside from advising you to go to it alone. A well dressed, self-confident person who knows what he or she wants, is bound to make a good impression. Be firm, yet considerate.

Insist on speaking to someone who understands home education and be prepared to back your claims to being qualified with a transcript, a portfolio or some other proof of proficiency.

Now what should you do if you are not accepted? For starters, don’t take it as a personal rejection. Failing to gain admission can be for any number of reasons, most of which can be fixed.

If the problem is not having prerequisite courses, get them. If it is because they don’t understand home education, help them. If it is because the program is already full, plan to remind them enough times to make sure you are part of the program next year. In the meantime, go get some work and earn some money towards the education you want, without amassing debt!

Accept rejection as a challenge to try harder next time. However, let’s not omit the possibility that rejection is the hand of God protecting you from doing something that is not in keeping with who you are or what you can do.

We have seen many an example of broken hearted students later being thankful for having not been accepted in a career in which they would have been miserable.

The most common mistake home educated students make is failing to make their home education known when they are applying. The second one is just giving up if initially rejected.

If you really believe that this is what you want and that it is in keeping with who you are, don’t take no for an answer. Persistence will eventually win. Just don’t quit.

Everybody is Post-Secondary Bound: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 1)

Bringing things to a conclusion usually results in having to repeat oneself. Arriving at the post-secondary level in a series entitled “A Practical Guide to Home Education” is especially so.

When you consider that this is the final stage of the formal academic learning, and that it is not only the culmination of all that has transpired since “being born,” but also the point of springing into the adult world, you will understand my having to repeat things that have been brought up in the past.

After all, the points we discussed in preparation for this stage are now “coming home to roost,” so to speak.

Now, let’s get started with the end of our home education journey, so we can get on with life.

Those of you who know me will find this a bit hard to believe, but every once in a while, I will stop being busy and just relax a bit! It was during one of these “relaxing” moments that I experienced an epiphany. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, so let’s just say I had an interesting observation and subsequent thought.

I had been working on reporting my findings from a cross-Canada investigation of post-secondary admission practices for non-accredited home educated students, so the term post-secondary was front and centre in my mind. When I gave this serious thought, I realized that something was wrong with our way of describing the steps one takes in his or her learning journey.

The status quo educational system describes them this way. A child “starts learning” in play school, moves on to pre-kindergarten, followed by kindergarten, eventually “graduating” to the elementary level, then on to junior high and finally high school before advancing to the post-secondary level.

I found these steps a bit non-descriptive and confusing! I questioned how one could have a post-secondary level without having a secondary to “post” from, and if there were a secondary, it could only mean it came after a primary!

I then deduced that there are only three levels of formal learning before one embarks on his or her adult journey in life: a primary level where basic skills are learned, a secondary level, where these skills are applied, and a post-secondary level where skills are specialized for, and/or in, a particular field.

This means that “everybody goes through two main levels of formal learning to arrive at the post-secondary level.” Put another way, everybody is post-secondary bound in life. We all reach the post-secondary level where we will learn what we need to know, to do what we need to do, when we need to do it.

Nonetheless, the education industry has confused most of us into believing that something is only post-secondary if it involves institutions of higher learning. This is not necessarily true.

Photography and physical labour require specialized skills. Taxi driving is a specialized skill. Landscaping is a specialized skill. Mothering is a specialized skill. All of these things are just as much “post-secondary” as those careers requiring higher levels of education and training.

Now some careers do involve higher education, but whether a student goes through an apprenticeship to become a journeyman, goes to college for a diploma or certificate, gets a university degree, goes directly to work, starts a business, invents a widget, or starts a family, all involve specialized skills at a post-secondary level. Everybody eventually reaches the post-secondary level.

Understand that the world has a top-down manner of describing the importance of careers, thinking that the more education a student gets, the more successful he or she will be. This may be true, but only in a limited sense.

The world may see a PhD recipient as more advanced than a graduate student, who is seen as better than the undergraduate, who “towers” over the student who has been to a community college, who trumps the apprentice or the tradesman, who is smarter than the labourer, and that person, of course, is better than those at the bottom of the pile, which would be the “unsophisticated,” housewife and mother.

God simply does not see things in this vertical, top down fashion. To Him, everybody is important. There is no job or career that is more important than the other or that does not have merit. He only requires greater levels of responsibility in keeping with one’s attributes.

Think about this: Where would the doctor be if there was nobody to fix his malfunctioning toilet, or to deliver the goods that he needs to do his job, or to take out his garbage?

Nearly everybody will learn the basic skills. Most will learn to apply these skills and all will eventually learn a specialized skill set, to be employed at the post-secondary level, excepting, of course, those whose physical and/or mental handicaps prevent them from doing so. Even then, there are very few who are incapable of at least some task requiring at least some level of post-secondary skills.

God recognizes that every legitimate task is necessary and valuable. He knows that everybody will specialize in their knowledge and skills. He is the one who gave us this ability. He is the one who provides us with opportunity to incrementally advance our skills and knowledge from beginning to end.

Even if the world insists on controlling how this will be accomplished, by breaking this natural, continual process into increments, the “post-secondary level” of learning will still be a part of most every person’s learning journey. Every student is post-secondary bound.

Let Me Show You A Better Way: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 10)

Life can be, indeed often is, confusing. We often mix up the right and wrong things, coming up with hybrid ideas that are neither good nor bad, but mediocre.

Knowing this is important. We want to avoid being mediocre as nothing is accomplished other than restricting one’s full potential.

Mediocrity is the objective of the enemy whose modus operandi is simply “anything but the truth.” This translates into anything that will avoid the success that we have already defined as being truly worthwhile, which is how we serve others.

When addressing the Laodicean Church in the second chapter of Revelation, the Lord detested mediocrity. He would that we be either hot or cold rather than lukewarm, as those specializing in neither are useless or mediocre.

Again, never settle for less than your best, even going so far as challenging yourself to stretch. That is when God can also do His best. However, I will not hide the fact that doing so can be daunting.

Many years ago, when I first determined to live my life for Jesus, I was frustrated by all the things I thought I needed to do in order to live a fulfilling Christian life.

When I shared this frustration with an older brother, he asked me for an example of what I was struggling with. When I cited the Beatitudes, he informed me of the fact that these were “be” attitudes, not “do” attitudes! This statement changed my life!

Similarly, a career is much more a matter of being than of doing. People “doing” things that they are not enjoying is a sure formula for “being” unhappy and discontented in their careers.

The following excerpt of a statement made by Chuck Swindoll in one of his “Insights For Living” does a very good job of clarifying this for us:

… “Doing is usually connected with a vocation or career, how we make a living. Being is much deeper. It relates to character, who we are, and how we make a life. Doing is tied in closely with activity, accomplishments, and tangible things—like salary, prestige, involvements, roles, and trophies.

Being, on the other hand, has more to do with intangibles, the kind of people we become down inside, much of which can’t be measured by objective yardsticks and impressive awards. Of the two, being will ultimately outdistance doing every time. It may take half a lifetime to perfect…but hands down, it’s far more valuable…and lasting…and inspiring. That is what is meant by success.

Believing in the authority of holy Scripture, knowing and loving God, bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, committing ourselves to others, and becoming people of genuine encouragement. Such traditions (there are others, of course) are valuable absolutes that keep us from feeling awash in a world of relativism and uncertainty.

Clearly, my position is on the side of openness, allowing room for the untried, the unpredictable, the unexpected—all the while holding fast to the truth. Believe me, there are plenty of people around who feel it is their calling to tell others what to do and what to say. They are self-appointed wing-clippers who frown on new ways and put down high flight. They work hard to “squeeze you into their mould.”…

Well said. But just as important as not aiming high enough is the potential for aiming too high which invites “frustration,” or going in the wrong direction, which invites “discontentment”.

Being comfortable with yourself as being part of a particular career is your ultimate goal. However, being uncertain about your future requires faith that we will be “steered” in the right direction, and once again we need to understand that God sees to this if we are doing our part.

Let me give you an example that you will be sure to understand.

Children often sit behind the steering wheel in a vehicle, pretending to turn the wheel and pushing all kinds of buttons, acting as though they are really going places. But they are going nowhere because the vehicle isn’t moving. It cannot be steered or directed.

Similarly, God can only steer or direct people if they are moving, that is, making an effort to find their place.

Careers is one of my least favourite topics because I have a tendency to sound a bit schizophrenic or double-minded. On the one hand, I encourage students to trust God with their future and on the other I encourage them to make it happen.

Laying around expecting God to do something about your life is about as productive as steering a parked car. Just as foolish, is running ahead of God into a future you know nothing about.

Nobody gets in a vehicle with the objective of finding out where they are going once they get there. Be wise, have a well-researched and exact plan as you drive to your destination in life, using God as your GPS.

The best made plans are soaked in prayer, proceeded with caution and studied circumspectly. Move, so God can steer you.

A Few Final Thoughts About Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 9)

There is a lot that can be said when it comes to careers. There may be a million “formulas,” “directives,” “blogs” or what have you, but there is one thing I have observed. Most everyone finds something to occupy them.

If you want to be employed with a career that not only provides a living, but fulfills your need to be part of something, there is a place for you.

No doubt, you have to be searching, that is, moving forward in some way and no doubt there will be a few rabbit trails and dead ends along the way. This is not a problem. In fact, it is normal and probably a good thing, as these experiences clarify your journey and place in this world.

There has always been debate over whether life is made by faith or through works. The truth is, both are required.

I am sure you have heard the old admonition to work as though things depend on you and to pray like it all depends on God. There is a lot of truth to this, also.

One of the most difficult things to understand is how God is always in control of all things, yet He has given us the freedom to choose what it is we will do with our lives, indicating perhaps that we are actually in control.

Again, both are true. We are in charge of our lives here in this temporal world, but God controls eternal matters. Please understand that the temporal world is part of the eternal, thus putting God ultimately in control.

What is it that I am trying to say? Only that, if we do our part and actively seek His Kingdom here and now in our lives as we move towards its fulfilment, all these things are added unto us.

Like finding that special partner, it seems we eventually, somehow, find the right place in our life as well. Could that be because God is eternally in control and directing us?

I agree that it is much easier to understand this once you have lived life than when first starting. However, once there, you will look back and see that “the goodness and mercies of the Lord have followed you.” They followed you because you were the one moving towards your destiny while He directed your path.

There are only three realities in this world: ours, theirs and His. Sometimes we get confused as to whose reality we are living in. Is this my idea? Is this God’s idea? Have I been unduly influenced by others? Yes. Yes. And yes! All are connected.

All you can do is to do something. In fact, all you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough. I wish I could claim to have invented that statement, but I didn’t. It is wisdom that has been handed down for millennia. Meditate on this.

Transitioning into the adult world does entail a lot of things. We may be making a mistake when we search for a career. Should we not be searching for our place in this world instead?

Careers are, unfortunately, tied to the question of how we will make money. What if our place is actually not primarily about how “I” will be successful but about how “I” will help others to be successful? Being part of a bigger thing is better than being the only thing.

Careers, as the world defines them, leave out service. Careers are “me” centred, while service is “other” centred. When focusing on careers rather than our place of service, we miss what really matters.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point.

Even though I normally taught Biology in school, I had to teach my share of the “not-so-glamorous” courses such as Science 14 or 24.

These were courses designed for students who had no interest or aptitude for science and so were not that much fun to teach, unless of course, you determined to minister to the individual rather than indoctrinate the masses.

In advancing relationships as more important than the science content, I provided the students opportunity to be comfortable with who they were rather than to be burdened with the idea that they were stupid because they did not “get” biology or chemistry or physics.

Having a fairly good rapport with my students, I could get a little closer in their personal lives. I was, therefore, just a bit surprised by the answer I got from a 19 year-old female student who was taking my class to complete requirements for her diploma.

Knowing that she was about to graduate and move on in life, I had asked her what she intended to do after graduation. She did not want to tell me.

Having a closer relationship with her as she was more mature than the average in the class, I was perplexed by her answer.

After having pursued the answer several times, I finally asked why she did not want to share this information with me. When she answered that I would laugh at or make fun of her, I quickly informed her that I was not in the habit of belittling anyone.

After much cajoling, she finally answered my query.

My heart broke when she informed me that all she wanted to do was get married, have a bunch of children and be a homemaker. And the world she was in was laughing or belittling her because she did not aspire to some romantic or glamorous career. What a travesty of truth!

There is no higher, no more fulfilling occupation for a woman than to be a homemaker for her husband and family. Indeed, this is more important to the survival of humanity than any other career.

I wanted to end with this story because I wanted to be sure to make the point that it is okay to be and to do what God puts in your heart.

Regardless of how you spend your life, the more you spend of yourself on others, the more fulfilled you will be. How this looks for you is between you and God, but there is no place where someone is not in need of what you have to offer.

Careers are okay. To pursue a career is okay. To feel like you have to somehow be active in the world is correct. Just do not let the world dictate how this will be done.

Follow your heart. Do what you want. Do it as unto the Lord.

Researching Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 8)

How will you know what you are supposed to do with your life? Most young students are not only relatively clueless about this, but usually stress over it. There is no need to worry!

However, there is one thing I should remind you about before we begin today’s discussion.

You will find this admonition in Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-31. To summarize, it simply says, “don’t worry, because it is a waste of time” and so “seek God and His Kingdom and He will take care of the rest”!

Still, we do need to do our part. We need to be moving so He can direct or steer us to where we will best serve Him by being who He has created us to be.

Let’s review the obvious. You will not likely choose a career that has you doing something you don’t like or can’t do. That can and does happen, but usually within a school environment in attempting to create something of you.

You have already been created, so let’s go and find out what you have been created for!

In the beginning, you will find yourself in the frustrating position of trying to find a job without having experience and not having that experience because you don’t have a job! Yuk! However, there is a way to remedy this situation.

Volunteer! Very few volunteering opportunities require prior experience, while volunteering does provide opportunity to gain some. If nothing more, it will provide a chance to demonstrate your time management skills as well as your ability to follow instructions.

Not only will you benefit the agency that you have volunteered to help, but this can provide you with insights that no textbook can provide, not to mention that coveted letter of reference that will help you find that first job.

Volunteering does not have to be in keeping with your potential career. It is simply to get you out of the house, help others, and gain work experience.

If you find “your place” by doing so, great! But know that to discover what you do not like or do well is also very instructive.

If you can get part-time work to help you demonstrate maturity and gain experience, good. Unlike volunteering, part-time work pays! Both are great ways to learn about yourself and the world you are in, even if unrelated to your ultimate life’s work.

The biggest obstacle to success is obviously doing nothing to make it happen.

You should be giving lots of thought to what you may be interested in doing, but remember that as a relatively young person, you may be afflicted with a deceptive sense of romanticism.

That is, you are likely “seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses,” and unable to clearly see everything a job or career entails. But you can take steps to reduce this natural tendency.

Once you have identified a potential occupation, conduct a comprehensive investigation of it to determine both the positive and negative aspects about it.

Record your findings towards the creation of a Career Investigation Report that you can present to your parents (this should be a project required of all senior home educating students) as well as others who may find such an effort instructive.

Had more people done this, there would be a lot less dissatisfaction with work in this world. Include all your findings, intelligently organized to clearly show you know what you are talking about.

Start your investigation by interviewing your parents and especially others who have been working in the field.

Volunteer to work in the field to get some inside experience, if possible, or find some part-time work in keeping with that occupation. This is the best way to find what it’s really all about and what is required to be able to do that job.

If volunteering is not possible, spend a day or two job-shadowing a person working within the occupation of interest. No matter what, be sure to ask lots of questions without neglecting to ask your representative what he or she does not like about the job.

Keep in mind that as long as there are people involved, which is always, you will have the relational issues or politics most often brought up as the worst part of any job. Ignore this answer, but pay special attention to all the others.

No doubt the occupation you are investigating requires some level of post-secondary training, but does this necessarily involve attending an institution of higher learning?

I strongly recommend that you only go to college if you absolutely have to. Most colleges and universities are breeding dens for anti-Christian sentiment and left-leaning indoctrination, not to mention being expensive.

If you are interested in a particular training program, you should go to the website of the institution that’s offering the program, review the institution’s calendar to familiarize yourself completely with the program of interest.

If possible, be sure to attend open houses so you can get an even more accurate perspective of what is involved. Be sure to make note of this as part of your Career Investigation Report.

We all know that an informed decision is a good one. Get informed about your occupation of interest.

Not only will this help you to better understand what interests you, but a well-documented Career Investigation Report will impress potential admission people that you are not ignorant of what it is that you want to do.

Now, get investigating!