A student’s senior year in high school is a special and often stressful time. They’ll soon be an adult, but do you need to worry about whether it’s a good idea to homeschool for senior year? Some parents are concerned about their own ability to teach at that level, while others wonder about the value of a homeschool diploma. Additionally, some parents simply wish for their kids to have a taste of how the other ‘half’ lives and a chance to go to prom. I can’t answer for the third group, but as a former educator with my own homeschooled children, I am very familiar with home learners’ diplomas. Finishing high school with an accredited distance learning or online school has its benefits. However, there’s also a strong case for finishing out the year with a homeschool diploma. I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of both options so you and your home learner can decide which path best suits their post-high school plans.
Is it a good idea to be homeschooled senior year? Being homeschooled senior year isn’t always a good idea. Your child’s goals matter a great deal, and regrettably, some homeschool grads have run into delays or problems due to a homeschool diploma. That said, Ivy League schools, the military, and most jobs all accept homeschool diplomas. However, I suggest getting an accredited diploma from a distance learning or correspondence school to help make it less stressful for your child’s transition into college or the workforce.
Are You Willing to Defend a Homeschool Diploma
Your homeschooler’s senior year and subsequent diploma are completely valid when you issue them at home. Provided that they have completed any state-mandated requirements or tests, and fulfilled their homeschool criteria, then they have graduated, period. Even the US Armed forces, which aren’t known for embracing change and are historically prone to discrimination against homeschoolers, GED holders, and other groups, now offer a clear path to (theoretically) unbiased equal enlistment.
Sadly, real-world bias does exist. Even in these trying times, when a pandemic is sweeping the globe, some myths and misconceptions exist. The question of issuing a diploma at home is largely about whether you are prepared and willing to defend that diploma if necessary.
The laws are constantly changing and almost always in favor of homeschool families, at least in the USA. That accomplishment belongs to homeschool families, home learning grads, and of course, to the lawyers who defend them. I do not intend to diminish that in any way.
It would be a dishonest and incorrect answer if I were to say that fighting the good fight is right for everyone. Some people are unwilling to face confrontation. Likewise, some parents work from home, and having older homeschoolers attend online classes helps to get the best of both worlds, so the family remains a cohesive unit and manages to pay the rent.
Homeschool Diplomas Can Face Challenges
According to OneNewsNow, a pair of homeschool graduate daycare workers had serious issues over their (perfectly valid) diplomas in 2017. The place these women worked was audited by the Child Care Licensing Division of the Arizona Department of Health Services, which discovered their non-traditional diplomas. As a result, they were ordered by ADHS to take a GED test or lose their jobs.
Happily, the situation was handled through appropriate legal channels, and eventually, the women were allowed to keep their jobs. However, they did require legal representation to clear up the matter. “Since Arizona does not require homeschools to be accredited, a diploma does not need to be from an accredited school to serve as evidence of the completion of high school,” HSLDA reported. “There was no need for these women to take the GED to meet the qualifications for their positions.”
While it is rare, and getting rarer, homeschool diplomas can be challenged by prospective employers. For some, this means walking away from an opportunity is a wiser path. When it is the hiring company that doesn’t accept your diploma, it’s good to know that many businesses value out-of-box thinking, self-motivation, and skills while some don’t value their employees as much as their own red-tape. This is not the only case, and sadly some states uphold employer rights over the educational rights of parents.
Opting For Non-Homeschooled Senior Year
For my family and many others, the benefits of using correspondence or online programs for a part or all of high school outweigh the negatives. While top-tier universities, including Ivy League schools, all accept homeschoolers, the process varies. It can mean doing significantly larger amounts of paperwork. This makes an already busy and stressful time even more complex.
Work from home parents are likely already familiar with the benefits of tutors and homeschool groups. Not only do these provide outside input, but they can give you vital hours to work while your older students are still working on their education. However, the significant decrease in parental paperwork when your home learner uses an outside program can make an even bigger impact.
Not only will your kids get those accredited diplomas, transcripts you don’t need to write yourself, and grades, but they also get that additional outside input. However, choosing home programs online or done with correspondence workbooks allows you to keep them home. You can still support their education and help prevent illness, bullying, and other public and private school issues. Similarly, families with ill or special needs children can accommodate them at home without concern.
Citizens Online High School is a well known and accredited institution. With various options, including biblical and African American studies, it is easy to work around your family’s needs and schedule. Moreover, Citizens also offers offline programs. International students, Spanish speakers, and world schoolers will all find options here. Plus, they work with families to help fund affordable tuition rates and offer individual courses as well.
The American School of Correspondence is another outstanding option for home learners. With famous alumni such as Andre Agassi and Jessica Alba, it’s not hard to see how far you can go with a diploma from this accredited school. American School offers three main categories to choose from for your students. They have a general high school program, an independent study course, and the college preparatory option. With over seventy self-paced courses to choose from, learners and parents can tailor a senior year that is just right for their goals.
Choosing The Right Path
The Senior Year of high school is a unique opportunity for older homeschoolers and parents to help set the stage for a lifetime of success. Whether you opt to create your own homeschool diploma or work through an accredited umbrella curriculum for a more traditional diploma, it is vital to consider your child’s needs and goals carefully. How they finish high school should reflect the best possible option for sending them into adult life well prepared.
Parents who have college-bound kids need to look at the requirements for the schools they want to attend. A younger grad who wants to go to a local college and perhaps transfer to a prestigious university in a year or two may do best taking some college classes their senior year as part of a homeschool curriculum. Meanwhile, a student who wants to attend a school that favors public and private school grads might want that accredited diploma to get in right away.
Similarly, a child who wishes to serve in the military needs to look at each diploma’s pros and cons. They may want to find service members who are willing to discuss how a bias toward homeschoolers applies to their life on a military base if possible. Alternately, a kid who wants to become an entrepreneur right out of school doesn’t have to worry a great deal about their diploma status as a business owner, so point them at business-related courses and support that dream.
Ultimately, it will always be up to you as the parent or guardian and the student whose life it will impact. Make sure to consider their personality and their plans when discussing it, and include your high schooler in the dialogue. Some people live for a legal battle and may even want to become lawyers who defend homeschool rights. Others prefer not to explain themselves and only want a smooth, reasonably trouble-free transition to adulthood. Families with multiple children may even want to take different approaches with each sibling, and homeschool gives you the freedom to take either path or any combination of the two.
Homeschool diplomas are a legal right, and it’s important to make sure they stay that way. However, parents and students who want to avoid any possible problems may wish to opt for an accredited diploma. Taking this route offers a simple transcript with a GPA and avoids the “Mommy Bias.”
Regardless of which path is best for your homeschool teen, they are still more likely to lead an impressive and happy adult life. Home learners are almost three times more likely to get a degree, and they don’t report having problems getting into schools, getting jobs, or pursuing their dreams. According to many studies, homeschool grads are self-motivated and driven individuals who are more likely to succeed.
We live in unprecedented times, and the popularity of homeschool was already on the rise for decades before the pandemic. You can bet you’ll see a lot more openly homeschooled people in the workforce over the next generation, no matter who signs their diploma.