One of the most important issues facing homeschoolers is the question of the high school diploma. Will your student get one? How? What are the requirements? As homeschooling becomes more and more commonplace, regulations tend to get more and more strict. Preparing your child for college, a career, or homeschooling his or her own children requires a diploma. But how to get one?
First, check with your state. Each state has different requirements for homeschoolers; North Dakota may issue a state-certified diploma, for example. Overwhelmingly, however, homeschoolers do not receive accredited diplomas from their state or public school. In Pennsylvania, there are “graduation requirements” set for students, while most other states have no across-the-board rules.
Some homeschools are registered with umbrella schools, private schools, or cover schools. If this is the case, the school may issue a diploma to the student. Correspondence courses set up through individual states may also issue diplomas; depending on the state and the student, this can be an effective means to a diploma.
Parents may issue diplomas in any state. Simply buy or make a blank diploma, fill in appropriate wording (the Home School Legal Defense Association recommends “This certifies that John Smith has completed the course of study prescribed for graduation by his parents, Joseph and Mary Smith (or by Smith Home School) In testimony whereof, this diploma is conferred, and we have subscribed our names on the third day of the month of June, in the year 2010.”) and have the main instructors sign it. Most colleges and employers accept parent-issued diplomas, although some will also require a transcript with more details about the homeschool program of study.
Most colleges and employers also accept the General Equivalency Degree, or GED. The GED is not a high school diploma, but it is equivalent to one. Many homeschoolers avoid the GED because it may prompt employers and universities to think that high school was not completed, but with an appropriately detailed transcript or syllabus it should be no problem.
Another option is to obtain a certificate stating that the student has completed a high school program of study from the local school district. This may be required for your child to receive financial aid, and it may be as simple as making an appointment. On the other hand, it might require a portfolio and/or an interview with the school superintendent.
If getting a non-homemade diploma for your child is truly your highest priority, consider enrolling them in cyber school, public school, or private school for their last year of high school. While this may not be ideal, for some children it is good preparation for the classroom work of college and it does result in a traditional diploma.
While homeschooling requires dedication and hard work, getting a diploma is no obstacle. Most homeschoolers opt for the traditional mom-and-dad diploma. Some need not worry, as they are enrolled in charter or umbrella schools. The student may wish to obtain a certificate of completion for legal reasons, or he or she could opt to take the GED exam in order to receive graduate status. Just as there are many types of homeschooling, so there are many ways to formally complete it.