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Cottey College-- the Perfect Fit for Homeschooled Girls

1000 W. Austin, Nevada, Missouri 64772 - 888-5-COTTEY • Web:

by Michael Leppert

Most homeschooling families appreciate the idea of providing moral and spiritual insulation for their children. This is one of the major reasons parents choose to homeschool and none ever seem to regret the choice. Raising our children with a sense of morality, ethics, wholesomeness and self-reliance is not isolation, but insulation. However, it seems to be difficult to find such an appreciation of wholesomeness in the "outside" world. Parents of young homeschooled ladies will be pleased to learn about one such place in the wide world that values our values; nurtures as we want our children to be nurtured -- no matter how "old" they may be.

From that perspective, a perfect two-year college for homeschooled girls is Cottey College, a small school with an enrollment of 350. Cottey is located in a rural area of Missouri, 100 miles from Kansas City; 60 miles from Joplin, Missouri., in Nevada, a town with a population of 9,000 (county population is 20,000). Not only is Cottey's country atmosphere perfect for homeschooled girls-- the college seeks homeschoolers and maintains a high academic attitude that coincides with the usual homeschooler's laser focus. The average SAT score for Cottey entrants is 1070; average ACT is 23, and a 3.3 GPA. Cottey graduates compete successfully for $30,000 Truman Scholarships and $25-30,000 Jack Kent Cook Scholarships. They also go on to prestigious four-year schools including The American University in Paris, The American University, Richmond, in London, Mills College in the Bay Area, Mt. Holyoke in Massachusetts, Stanford and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, to name a few.

Cottey is owned by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic educational organization founded in the mid-1800s by seven college women at Iowa Wesleyan College whose goals were to provide the same educational opportunities to women as were offered to men. Guided by the belief that women deserved the same education as men, Virginia Alice Cottey had founded Cottey College in 1884.  Shortly thereafter, Virginia Alice Cottey was invited to join the P.E.O. Sisterhood and in 1927 donated the college to that organization. Today, P.E.O.'s membership is 250,000 and is a major women's organization, providing scholarships and other assistance to women in the U.S. and internationally, who wish to obtain higher education. Members of P.E.O. believe in education for women and to that end, they will "adopt" a student or a dormitory suite (explained below) of students and send them care packages or keep in touch with cards and letters throughout the year. This contributes to Cottey's feeling of community and establishes a personal college environment. It also provides a network atmosphere that can be very important for success in one's career. Class size is small and Cottey students do not feel as if they are lost in a sea of faces as they might at larger colleges. The college also enjoys a strong financial base and is able to offer its students the best equipment in the science department and excellent resources in the other departments.

Cottey has a system of host families for students, arranged through local churches and Rotary International, that also makes it a perfect fit for homeschooled girls. The girls live on campus, in suites that accommodate 8 to 12, thus providing a homey, close-knit atmosphere. The host family gets to know the student they are hosting, offering to pick her up for church on Sunday, have her over for dinner, and include her in other activities throughout the year. Church affiliation or attendance is not necessary, as Cottey is not a religious school per se, but in a small town like Nevada, much of the local life revolves around the churches.

Cottey College is very strong in the sciences, the fine arts, the performing arts and in developing leadership skills. At Cottey, young women learn that their opinions matter in the wide world; their voices are heard at the school and living in such an environment helps to develop the expectation of being heard in post-Cottey life. Francine Irving Ness, former United States Treasurer and National Director of the U.S. Savings Bond Division, was a Cottey graduate, as was Kelly Smith Tunney, the first female General Manager of the Associated Press. More modern Cottey graduates include Carol Littleton, who was the editor on the film "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and another is on the staff of the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

One of the most interesting perks of attending Cottey College is that each March, the college takes the 2nd year students to Europe for a one week educational exploration of a major European city. Airfare, lodging, and some meals are paid by the college, leaving only the cost of souvenirs and incidentals to be paid by the students.  The college is closed for two weeks at that time and many students go with the class and then spend a second week in Europe with friends and parents. What a great way to wrap up two years of hard academic work!

Cottey College offers homeschooled girls (and their parents) a safe, wholesome environment in which to develop and achieve academic and leadership success in a relaxed, quiet, idyllic surrounding. Please visit the Cottey website and do not hesitate to contact their Admissions Office for further information. M.L. ■

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