Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Different Approach to Undergraduate Education

Tonight I listened to a webinar entitled "Harvard or Heaven with Voddie Baucham," a Christian minister who is a leader in the contemporary Family Integrated Church movement.  During this talk, Baucham attacked the current higher education system as being worthless, rediculously expensive, unnecessarily long, and antagonistic towards Christianity and Christian values.   Rather than send his children to a traditional college, Baucham's children are enrolled in a program called College Plus (http:www.collegeplus.org), which the website describes as "a revolutionary Christian based distance learning program helping students earn their fully accredited bachelor’s degree in a fraction of the time and cost of the traditional university system."

What College Plus does is assign each student a coach, who works with them in acquiring the skills and content knowledge to pass the CLEP or other subject-matter exam that will assure them college credit in that area.  Because the program is so individualized, it varies from student to student, but the website suggests that the typical student graduates with a baccalaurete degree in two-three years for a total cost of $10,000-$15,000.

Now, my worldview and belief system is very different from Reverend Baucham preaches.  I also value some of the things he rejects as "worthless," just as I don't care about some aspects of education that are most important to him.  However,  I found this to be an interesting illustration of an alternative approach to college that doesn't end up bankrupting the student and/or the parents.

And that is, I think, one of the most precious things about the American higher education system--the wide number of alternate paths and approaches that are available to our students.  If nothing else, I'm grateful to College Plus for reminding me of that gift of our system.

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