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July 1

Yarborough family finds dependable
homeschool educational partners, opportunities at MCC

In a typical academic year, Metropolitan Community College serves more than 150 homeschooled students. Less typical is the concentration of Yarboroughs who have been in this group for the past four years.

As the 2024-25 academic year begins, Blake Yarborough, 17, is on track to be the third student in his family to earn an associate degree from MCC before reaching his 18th birthday. His sister Claire, 18, earned her associate before getting her driver’s license. As is sometimes the case for the younger children, the road through adolescence can be easier because of the trail blazed by older sister Caroline, 19.

The trio jumpstarted their college education at MCC during high school, and at a discount through CollegeNOW! one of the College’s four dual enrollment programs. CollegeNOW! provides the opportunity for Nebraska high school students to enroll and earn college credits in classes taught by MCC faculty. CollegeNOW! courses are offered at MCC campuses and are also available online.

Since the 2022-23 academic year, all MCC dual enrollment programs are available to Nebraska high school students tuition free through the 2024-25 academic year, including homeschooled students like the Yarboroughs.

Caroline completed her liberal arts academic transfer degree (LATAA) in 2021-22 at half-price tuition. Claire’s tuition for her LATAA degree was half-price for her first 54 credits; her last 40.5 credits were tuition free. So long as Blake finishes his LATAA degree before the conclusion of the 2024-25 term — and he is ahead of pace with 48 college credits earned and 13.5 in progress at press time — the entirety of his college classes at MCC will come at no cost for tuition.

“For pretty much everything in life, we’ve always joked that [Caroline and Claire] have been the guinea pigs. It’s always been like that for me, and that has definitely been true at MCC,” Blake Yarborough said. 

Their mother, Whitney Yarborough, said the family started homeschooling when they lived in South Carolina before moving to Nebraska in 2011. 

“The public education here is much higher quality than it was in South Carolina, but homeschooling was working well for us, so we decided to stick with it. We took it year by year and kid by kid,” Whitney Yarborough said.

By connecting with Jack Donnelly, director of the Homeschool Learning Community in Omaha, Whitney Yarborough said she discovered MCC is a resource to local homeschool families.

“He was a great resource because he was a homeschool parent, a veteran public school teacher and MCC instructor,” Yarborough said. “He encouraged us to begin with the end in mind and explained that there was no rubric we had to fit high school in as a homeschool family. That gave me the freedom to think about their education outside of the box.”

Whitney said some homeschool families choose courses offered by educational institutions that would be harder to facilitate or be cost-prohibitive in a home environment, such as a science lab. She was looking for something more structured and found a good partner to work with at MCC in Trish Johnson — then a success navigator, now an academic advisor.

Whitney said Johnson had familiarity working with homeschool families on their educational plans and is a known resource in the community.

“[Johnson has] kind of been the go-to person for homeschool families,” Whitney said. “I said if we’re going to do this, I don’t want it to be haphazard. I want it to be more organized. When I reached out to Trish, I said, ‘If we do this, can we get a degree at the end of this?’ That’s when she told me about the liberal arts transfer degree.” 

Johnson said she enjoys working with homeschool families. Her priority in working with any high-school-aged student signing up for college classes is to get a baseline of academic skills to determine appropriate placement.

“MCC has a lot of classes that are a good place to start. I always explain that we don’t want to throw them into a college-level psychology class or a history class if the reading or writing level isn’t there yet, and then guide them to start with those core classes first,” Johnson said.

Caroline and Claire each finished their LATAA degrees with above 3.0 grade point averages. After finishing high school, Caroline went to Disney University, a training program for employees of the Parks and Experiences division of the Walt Disney Company. She has also been accepted to Liberty University.

“Caroline was interested in working at Disney, so she took a couple of animation classes. There were a few electives she could specialize in at MCC that I don’t think would have been available at the high school level,” Whitney said.

With her associate degree complete, Claire is in the middle of a gap year between high school and college, focusing on her passion for dance. She aspires to dance in professional ballet or point, hoping to be accepted to Oklahoma School of Dance after she sends in her audition video. If those plans don’t work out, she has been accepted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas University and the University of Oklahoma.

“I would not have been able to consider [a professional dance career] if I had gone to a normal high school because I wouldn’t have had time, but I was able to fit dancing in with MCC classes while also getting college done,” Claire said.

Blake is still figuring out where his interests lie but recognizes his growth as a student through learning to manage his time taking college courses at MCC. He admits it was an adjustment from his homeschool learning environment, but he would recommend any high school student weigh the long-term benefits of starting college early.

“I had to come to terms with the fact that these are college classes, but I also knew that I would save thousands of dollars down the road. It will benefit you so much in the long run for the short amount of time you are taking college classes,” Blake said.

Whitney said sending all of her children to MCC was a “no-brainer” for her family, especially for general education credits. She said that decision was validated when they learned the instructor for Caroline’s atmospheric science class was also a professor at a highly rated private university. The difference in cost per credit hour for the same instructor teaching at a private university is more than $1,000.

“It’s one thing to pay the exorbitant cost for specialized classes in her major, but to have to pay that price for gen eds — I think you should get them done [at MCC],” Whitney said.

Johnson said she appreciates the preparedness of homeschool families when they come to MCC and enjoys being involved in their academic planning.

“They’re great students. They come in organized and prepared for their appointment. My joke with their parents is, ‘You’re hired as an advisor’ because they come in and they’ve planned out the next few quarters,” Johnson said. “They also get a taste of what MCC has to offer, and a lot of times, students will end up in one of our programs.”

MCC Community Education also offers ongoing noncredit homeschool courses that are available this summer. They are designed for parents considering homeschooling or for those with students currently participating.

To register or for more information, visit and view Home and Family course offerings. Visit for more information on the College’s dual enrollment programs.