Like all the other details about homeschool, it’s natural for responsible adults to worry about graduation. Wondering if your homeschool diploma counts is a normal but unnecessary fear. There are plenty of alternatives to issuing a homeschool diploma, and I’ll walk you through those as well, but ultimately a homeschool diploma is equally acceptable. Because parents and guardians have the legal right to teach at home, education holds the same value as any other. Moreover, there’s plenty of study based evidence to show that home learners are highly educated and capable students who score higher in college classes. Both universities and employers recognize this as an advantage. Plus, homeschoolers are superb out of the box thinkers and problem solvers with a great sense of community and responsibility. Furthermore, homeschool kids are more likely to complete a degree once they begin a course of study. The maturity and self-discipline learned in home classes translate well into real-world situations. In the rare case that someone attempts to hold a homeschool diploma against a student, there’s legal recourse as well. In short, there’s nothing to fear and plenty of good reasons to give a homeschool diploma. I’ll walk you through all the options and provide you with some legal resources if you ever have trouble.
Does a homeschool diploma count? A homeschool diploma does count. Graduating from home education is as legally valid as any other form of high school equivalency or graduation. Good recordkeeping and following the appropriate state regulations matter a great deal. However, for those seeking additional ways to give weight to their home diploma and prove a student’s competency unquestionably, there are other options, such as taking another equivalency test. Most important, you need to have your home learner take the SAT or ACT.
Homeschool Students Don’t Need Diplomas As Much as You Think
If you were raised in a traditional school environment, merely reading this sections’ title probably made you cringe. Please understand that I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn’t print out a Homeschool Diploma if you want to do so. It is great for transcripts and unquestionably as valid as any other diploma. However, that piece of paper is not technically necessary in most situations. I’ll explain why.
A diploma is a piece of paper that says a student completed their K-12 schooling. While the military has additional standards, most other circumstances do not require a physical diploma. Most students begin applying for college before they graduate school, and they do not have diplomas to show their graduation at that time. Not having that paper doesn’t stop them from being accepted. Alternately, a transcript and documentation of the work that has been completed are necessary.
It may surprise you to learn that the military will accept homeschool diplomas. According to The Homeschool Mom, this is done, “…Under the tier system of education credentials implemented in 1987 by the DoD.” For more information on how a homeschooler can apply for military service, please contact the nearest recruitment office for whichever branch of the service your child desires to join. They will work with your homeschool grad and help them get to bootcamp.
Homeschool parents can easily create both a diploma and a portfolio (aka transcript) of the required classes. However, most schools accept the ACT or SAT scores in place of other documents. What is important for those seeking higher education is to make sure the student takes those tests. Additionally, you can look into the schools’ specific requirements where your child wants to attend to tailor your paperwork to suit that requirement.
Not only are homeschool parents able to create their own diplomas, but you can go a step further and create your own private school. Incorporating as a private institution will require more research and time, plus you’ll need to file business paperwork and relevant tax forms. However, families can look at the current requirements in their state and city to establish their own official school, from which diplomas can then be issued.
Alternatives to Homeschool Graduation
Saying that you don’t need to stress over a homeschool diploma is true, but for some parents and students, the desire to get an alternative graduate diploma is important. You can do this in several different ways if you prefer. For example, having a child take the GED or Hiset test when they finish school will offer them an alternate diploma to display and include in their records.
Some families choose to do part or all of the highschool years through an online homeschool program. Another option is correspondence courses. Well-known institutions like the American School of Correspondence offer students a customizable high-school education, teacher support, and grading. Transcripts and diplomas are available, and you can even request a letter of recommendation to go with the diploma.
The Importance of the SATs
Homeschool students do occasionally run into stigma often deemed the ‘Mommy Bias or Mommy Grade.’ While this isn’t a legal reason to question the validity of a homeschool diploma, it is not hard to see why some people question whether parental bias might benefit homeschoolers’ grades and impact them unfairly. There’s no solid evidence that this is the case; nevertheless, taking proficiency tests that are scored and graded outside the home should be more than enough to combat this type of thinking. Furthermore, it’s essential to take the SATs whether your student wants to go to college or not.
First, some states require basic proficiency tests at certain grade levels anyhow. Taking these shows that your home learners have achieved a minimal level of equivalent education to public school kids. In the long run, these are not the test scores that matter later in life. Families that want these for their records and those who wish to avoid them may need to relocate to a different state.
In tenth or eleventh grade, homeschool parents should look into the Preliminary SAT/Nation Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The pre-SAT test helps prepare your children to apply for colleges and qualify for scholarships and other funding. Particularly for advanced learners who may take college credit in their last year or two of high school, the PSAT/NMSQT should be part of the curriculum and goals for those years. You can register through a local participating school even if your student is not attending there.
Taking the SAT or ACT satisfies those states which require annual proficiency testing. More importantly, these are the most important scores that universities look at when considering a student for admission. Which test your home learner takes is up to you; however, it’s important to know that advanced students should take the SAT. Because of how these tests are structured and scored, those in the highest percentile are more likely to get a 99% or perfect score on the SAT than the ACT.
For students who don’t plan to apply to the most elite schools in the country, either test is acceptable, but you will need one or the other. You can register to take the ACT here. Information on how to register for the SAT in 2020-2021 is available right here.
What to do if Someone Disputes a Homeschool Diploma
Some states have laws requiring specific steps and prerequisites to issue a valid homeschool diploma. Most often, these include enhanced record-keeping via a parent generated transcript, especially for high school credits. It is always the job of homeschool parents to keep records of the educational process and generate transcripts because they are the primary teacher and school official. Hence, in states where there are mandatory classes for high school graduation, reasonable documentation of that work must be recorded in a transcript to validate your homeschool diplomas.
In the simplest terms, you need to show the work was completed. Otherwise, disputing a homeschool diploma because someone ‘doesn’t like it or agree with it’ in the US is a form of discrimination. Doing so violates the parents’ right to educate children at home. If someone argues the validity of your homeschool high school diploma, you should contact a lawyer or the Home School Legal Defense Association.
Lost and Stolen Documents
A homeschool student who loses their diploma in normal circumstances can always ask the parent to re-print the document. This is essentially the same as a graduate anywhere else who needs a new copy of their diploma. In the case of lost or stolen transcripts, a homeschool family may need to contact the local school board for guidance on recreating those forms or discuss the issue with a specialist such as those at the HSLDA. However, a simple GED test can also re-create the necessary proof of high school competency.
In most cases, the signature of the parent is sufficient to validate the diploma. In some rare and unfortunate instances, a parent might refuse to sign the document once earned. Parents who pass away or suffer ill health may also be incapable of signing a new copy at a future date. In these unhappy and rare situations, an adult homeschool graduate could fall back on obtaining a GED/HiSet if no other responsible parent or guardian is available to validate the form.
It is wise to make multiple copies and keep at least one on file with a family lawyer. If you do not have a regular lawyer for your Will or other documents, placing signed copies within a bank safe deposit box is sensible insurance against the potential loss of the only copy of your homeschool diploma. A copy of transcripts and other relevant proof like photos, old projects, and similar evidence of education are also good to have. Once a home learner becomes an adult, they should look after these precious items carefully.
Homeschool is the legal right of parents in all fifty states. Resultantly, a graduate of homeschool, is recognized as having achieved a high school equivalent education. In some rare cases, ignorant people may dispute the issue, but there are simple legal solutions to that sort of refusal and bullying.
With the one notable exception of the military, which requires registrants to have additional documentation, your students’ homeschool diplomas apply everywhere as long as they have done the necessary work to earn them. For families who opt for unschool, recordkeeping and transcripts are even more essential. However, most employers and higher learning institutions care more about test scores and degrees than they ever have about grades and where you get your diploma.
Giving your graduate a ceremony, or even a party, and presenting them with a diploma is a wonderful way to mark a special occasion and honor their achievements in learning. A beautifully created, framed diploma on the wall is a source of pride for any young adult, but it is not the end-all-be-all that determines where they can go from there.