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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Apologia's High School Science Courses are the Best College Prep

Have you ever seen the Veggie Tale’s movie called The Rumor Weed? Though the movie is a hyperbole of what a rumor can do, it’s actually quite a great allegory to life – especially in our technological world where a rumor can spread like unchecked wild fire. Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Sadly, I’ve recently heard a rumor that seems to be flying about cyberspace and the homeschool community.

The rumor involves the Apologia High School courses and works to discredit their academic and college prep potential.  I recently heard that leaders of a few classical message boards and schools have believed this rumor and are circulating this misinformation. Of course, they mean no harm. Most of them are simply stating what they have been told and have believed. We all have a tendency to believe what we hear without thoroughly examining the situation. Yet, this particular rumor deeply saddens me; first because it is untrue, second, because it causes unneeded fear and confusion for homeschoolers (who have enough to worry about) and third, because rumors are yucky. I know, not very eloquent, but it so adequately describes the nature of rumors…yucky.

On forums and email loops where this rumor is propagated, I’ve seen people post testimonies in defense of Apologia, which serves to stifle the conversation; but for some reason, the rumor seems to stay alive. Because I’ve seen this come up a few times now, I decided that it’s only fair that I should speak in defense of Apologia’s High School courses based on my experiences. I know that, as the author of their elementary courses, it may seem like I’m biased, unobjective and possibly have other motives for this. Really and truly, that is not the case.  I have no motives other than the desire to share what I know to be the truth, to clear up misunderstanding and misinformation and give homeschoolers the confidence they should have in using these courses with their high school students, easing their fears.  

Here is what I have heard: A few somewhat vocal people have said that a student going into the sciences in college should choose a different course, which, though dry and boring, covers more material and has more involved labs. I’ve even read reports of people comparing textbooks and deciding that Apologia doesn’t have all the “stuff” of the other books.

Please,  I want to set your mind at rest: As a fellow homeschool mom with a heart to see you succeed in your homeschooling and pursue this path without fear and trepidation, I can attest that Apologia has all the stuff your child needs, and nothing less than everything your child needs to greatly succeed in college science courses for science majors.

You would be amazed at the number of parents, earnestly grateful parents, that approach the Apologia booth at conventions to explain how their child has gone on to college and not only excelled in the sciences, but is pursuing higher degrees and honors in exclusive programs after using Apologia. Each one of these parents vehemently claim that they and their child give all the credit to Apologia. This doesn’t happen now and again; this happens all the time, over and over again. Sometimes the parents assure us that their child didn’t have any interest in science until they began these courses. If you could sit at the booth just one day at a convention, you would see it happen. To think that this is only a small sprinkling of students! There are probably many more that never approach the booth because they are no longer attending conventions.

I want you to feel confident in the truth that the Apologia courses are not just adequate to prepare your child for becoming a science major, they give students an advantage over their college classmates. I know that as a science major at the University of Texas, if I had used the Apologia courses, I would have been so much more prepared. My chemistry courses in high school did not explain concepts as Apologia does. In fact, I sat down with my lawyer husband, who proclaimed that he hated chemistry and never understood how to balance chemical equations, and using the Apologia Chemistry book showed him Dr. Wile’s explanations and within five minutes he was balancing chemical equations like a professional. He was perplexed that, as smart as he is, he could never understand it when it was explained in high school and college. Dr. Jay Wile has a special gift communicating scientific information.

Also, I want to add that Apologia’s author, Dr. Jay Wile, is not only more qualified than other textbook authors to write science courses based on his scientific knowledge, achievements and advances, but because he has actually taught at the college level, he is uniquely positioned to know what students need to know at the college level. He knows what concepts students struggled to understand, he understand how to communicate to young people in a way that penetrates their mind, and, again, he knows exactly what they should know. Perhaps other books have crammed more information into their year long course, and maybe the labs are more complicated and not safe to perform in one’s kitchen; the truth is – these additional things do not serve to better the quality of the textbook and do not create a quality, college-prep science course. The information found in Apologia’s courses are what a child needs to know – nothing less. If you choose to beef up the labs, that’s fine. However, it won’t give your child a better science foundation to do so. It may be more fun to do more involved labs. I think that’s a great idea if you want to do it. But it is absolutely not necessary to do this in order to give your child everything he or she needs to succeed and fully understand science.

What is so wonderful about Apologia is that it communicates scientific information using a living dialogue, which the students are able to comprehend, absorb and retain. Retention in the Apologia courses is the best I’ve ever seen. Let me give you an illustration of this:

When I have been at a convention booth with Dr. Jay Wile present, young people crowd around him to discuss science. Amazingly, normal looking kids mob the booth for hours, carrying on long conversations with Dr. Jay, asking questions and discussing fascinating scientific things they have learned. This is a true picture of what Apologia science is all about. It’s about imparting a love for science, so much so that the kids want to talk about it with the author. I just can’t see any other science textbook having this effect on normal human beings.

On top of that, Dr. Wile and his staff are always available to those using the course to clarify information, answer strange or simple questions and bless the homeschool community. If a student has a question, they can call or email Apologia, and someone, usually Jay Wile himself, is ready to give of himself and his time. Apologia’s commitment to your child is nothing short of amazing.

One of the most exciting things is that students using the basic Apologia high school courses are almost fully prepared to CLEP out of the equivalent freshman college course.  I’ve heard many reports of students getting college credit after they completed an Apologia basic high school course. In fact, as I read through the Biology and Natural Sciences CLEP exam study guides, I could see how this would easily happen. It was obvious that one could easily pass these exams, and procure college credit if they worked through the Apologia from General Science through Chemistry, alone! 

The last thing I want to share, which I, personally, feel is the most important, is the way Apologia handles it’s Biblical mandate. Though there may be other Christian-oriented science courses out there, none handle Creation and evidence for the Bible like Apologia does. Apologia courses actually impart a Biblical Worldview to the students by making the students think through  and answer tough questions about the truths of Creation and the Bible. They are required to work with the facts and think through it for themselves. They don’t just fill them up with facts and information. This does not work to impart a Biblical Worldview. This has been done for years, and is one of the reasons only 16% of born again Christians retain their faith in college. Apologia actually teaches the students to think through this information and come to know and believe it personally. When I’ve read through the specific material in Dr. Wile’s books related to evidence for our faith in the Bible and God, I’ve been so excited, blessed and encouraged – even though I already have total faith in my beliefs. I don’t want any of my children to miss a single one of Jay Wile’s books, even if they think they know all the science contained therein. Apologia’s courses are full of golden nuggets that will bolster your child’s faith. Also, because Jay Wile is a real scientist, he is very careful to only include scientific data that is solid and accepted in the scientific community.

Jay Wile and the Apologia staff have a passion for building up the homeschool community and preparing them to be leaders in the world. I know them personally to be truly devoted to you, the homeschool parent, and your kids. Jay Wile believes the answer to our country’s future lies in the students of the homeschool movement, and he is dedicated to providing them with the tools they need to become the people who will turn this nations future around. He has a personal desire to see your child succeed. I wish you could see his heart. I truly believe that God has placed a special calling on this man and his company to produce these amazing courses. It breaks my heart to hear other Christians spread untruths about the scholarly value and integrity of these books. These books are simply the best courses for homeschoolers because they were written to and for homeschoolers to use independent of a teacher – at the kitchen table – without compromising any scholarship. They strengthen families, not only in their faith, but also in their potential for academic success in college. They are easy to use and have contributed to the enormous success of homeschoolers in college and beyond. There is no need to worry and fret over whether your child should use Apologia High School Science; take your peace and know you are making a wise investment in your child’s future with these courses – there is years of proof to back up this claim; and, to be honest, the other courses being suggested don’t have an enormous number of testimonies associated with them, as Apologia does.

I hope that takes a load off!  God bless you all as you seek to fulfill God’s call to homeschool your precious children!