TOS Crew: Professor in a Box

To be honest, I’m still getting a grip on high school. Eldest hasn’t quite reached high school level in her endeavors, though she works very hard at learning. We just keep plugging along…

But Middlest is, according to the State, in 8th grade this year. (We just go along with the State grade levels for the younger two, when it comes to mandatory state testing. Makes things easier. It was not easier when Eldest was taking tests. But that’s a story for another day.) That means that high school is here, breathing down our necks, if not already. I mean, I could count this year as high school, at least so far as history and literature go, because of the co-op we’re in. Rigorous stuff. But math…

Middlest does not care for math. It’s been a problem. I had her working through an online math program, pretty steadily, with the promise that once she got through the high school subjects she could quit doing math, even if she was only 13. Well, something spooked her and she backed off her efforts. Math is a struggle again.

A lot of that has to do with the abstractness of math problems. Middlest is one of those people who wants to know why this stuff is relevant, especially why it’s relevant to her. If it’s not, then she’s not motivated.

That’s where Professor in a Box comes in.

Here is a high school math curriculum that is intensely practical and applicable, especially if Middlest wishes to start her own business.

Professor in a Box is a course in financial accounting. You take the course using your computer.

The teacher is a homeschool dad and college professor teaching–what else?–courses in the Department of Accountancy at Villanova University. To see more about him and hear him introduce himself and Professor in a Box, click here.

For a PDF listing of the 12 chapters (divided into 28 lessons), click here (Lesson Plan). If you look at the lesson plan, you’ll see that a lesson takes roughly three hours, more or less (some more, some less), and that you wouldn’t necessarily want to do an entire lesson in one sitting, but rather break it out over the course of several days. There’s also a “lite” version of the course included in the teacher’s materials, which omits some material but seems to take about the same amount of time, from what I could tell just looking at the two lesson plan PDFs.

A course syllabus and grading information is available here. There is also a sample chapter available online, but we couldn’t get it to work on our computer. (The DVDs worked just fine, however.)

There are four simple steps to taking the course:

1. Watch the lecture.

2. Do the homework.

3. Check solutions.

4. Take exams.

Let’s look at each of these, briefly.

Watch the lecture

The course comes on a set of DVDs. The lectures are basically slide shows–you look at slides while the instructor explains the material. He tries to make the material interesting for young adults. For example, in the first lesson, you examine the income and outgo for a record company. Slowly, step-by-step, you build an understanding of how the business works, financially.

I’ve heard it mentioned that the instructor has a strong New Jersey accent. *Mental shrug* Could be. Doesn’t bother me, even though we’re on the other coast. It doesn’t sound all that strong to me, but then, maybe if I lived in another part of the country with its own strong accent, it would. You can hear samples at the publisher’s website if you think it might be a concern.

This is no creampuff of a course. I worked through the first lesson with Eldest looking on, and the material started out simply but quickly built, layer on layer. You can do the course in a year for a full high school credit in math. (You could also do the course as a one-semester college course, but I think Middlest would expire from an overdose of math if we tried to do that.)

Do the homework

The homework has you solving problems similar to those presented in the lessons. For your convenience, worksheets are provided in spreadsheet form. You can use MS Excel, or download the OpenOffice equivalent from a link conveniently provided on the Professor in a Box website, to use the worksheets.


Reviewing the solutions actually happens at the start of each lesson. In this way, you’re reviewing the previous material before jumping into something new.


Each exam covers four chapters of material. Exams are comprehensive and cumulative. Be ready to allow two hours for the first two exams, more for the third.


Professor in a Box is available for $149.99 (regular price, but right now there’s a special price of $139.99 and free shipping) from the publisher’s website. There’s a money-back guarantee. If you complete the first three chapters (that’s 1/4 of the course) and the course is not a good fit, you can get a full refund.

There is no textbook. Lessons are presented in lecture form, with slides, to introduce the material, and practical exercises to apply learning. (I haven’t taken financial accounting myself, but apparently it is common to have to read 40-page lessons if you take high school or college accounting courses, or so I gather from the author’s advertising.)

Content covers material found in the CLEP exam for Financial Accounting. (I’m all for testing out of college courses! Did it myself, once upon a time, and thus was able to take more courses that I wanted to take, rather than had to take.) You can earn 3 college credits by passing the CLEP test.

Prerequisites include a basic understanding of math at a high school level. You’ll need a computer with a DVD-Rom drive and the ability to play Flash lectures.

Our take on Professor in a Box

The TOS Crew is supposed to use the review materials we’re sent, and I have to admit we haven’t used this one. Yet. I’ve got it penciled in as Middlest’s math course for next year. I think it’ll be a good fit, especially considering how intensely practical it is.

Disclaimer: TOS Crew members were provided a free copy of Professor in a Box for our family’s personal use and review purposes. We receive no monetary compensation for offering our opinion. Opinions offered here are our own.

For more TOS Crew opinions of Professor in a Box, please click here.


One response to “TOS Crew: Professor in a Box

  1. Pingback: TOS Crew: Principles of Marketing (Professor in a Box) | Home Sweet Home(school)

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