Can Unschoolers Get a Diploma: When Unschool Ends

Can Unschoolers Get a Diploma

Of all the homeschool forms, unschooling is the least well understood from the outside, but it’s an outstanding way to learn. For parents who want to unschool, wondering if their unschoolers can get a diploma is confusing and alarming. The good news is that not only do unschoolers get a diploma, but there are several ways to approach that milestone. I will walk you through different ways to offer a diploma to your non-traditional home learners and some tips on creating a functional transcript as well. Ultimately, it is a parents’ right and responsibility to direct their children’s educational course, which means knowing the options. Whether you choose a fully unschooled experience or use other available tools to get a more traditional accredited diploma, your kids can graduate with all the appropriate paperwork. No matter what your unschooler has planned after they finish their last day of homeschool, you can help them succeed with careful preplanning. 

Can unschoolers get a diploma? Unschoolers can get a diploma. Unschool may not be as structured as other forms, but these students are pursuing their passions and learning all the time while often exceeding the level of learning done by public school students. Most importantly, any child who finishes a high school level of home education should get the same diploma as their more traditional peers. After all, they worked hard to get there. 

How to Issue an Unschool Diploma

Before you can start collecting the necessary information to get an unschooler their high school diploma, it’s important to know the local graduation requirements. Every state and individual school district has its own standards, and you need to research the prerequisites carefully. There is no unified collection of graduation standards, but typically students need a specific number of credits in a handful of subjects such as math, science, and language arts. 

Once you’ve determined what the requirements are, working them into a transcript should be relatively simple. Although this will require some creativity, unschool parents already have creative thinking and use all of life as a teaching platform. Keeping a record is simple. 

Let’s say that your district requires two credits in math, three in language arts, and one elective. Naturally, the elective course can be a record of almost anything your student loves and does. Art, music, a sport, or even community service count toward these types of credits. Language arts is also straightforward. An unschooler can read, draft stories, or even take a couple of core classes at the local community college to meet these requirements.

Math is a little harder, but possible. Geometry through building and architecture is a terrific way to satisfy a high school level math course. Likewise, doing an independent study on building model rockets from scratch can count toward a math class so long as the unschooler is doing calculations to get appropriate amounts of fuel and similar relevant measurements. Have them work out where the rocket should land based on wind speed for the day and spend time shooting rockets in the yard for a semester. 

Collecting unschoolers experiences into a unified transcript looks difficult on the surface, but it’s just classifying the things they already do within categories for class subjects. Make sure you keep any written works and print the names of any books they use for research. Additionally, taking pictures or even videos can add to a complete transcript for the high school years. 

Unschool Transcripts Need These Things

To compile a transcript, you need to include all the relevant information. Below is a quick list of how to create a basic transcript. Using a standard chart on a page, make sure you include everything on this list to show the work that was completed, who did the work, and when. Label the top of each page, “Transcript.”

  • Always put the name, address, email, and phone number of the student at the top of the page along with the name of your homeschool and a parent’s full name, phone number, and email.
  • It would be best if you organized credits by the grade or year they were done, so have separate sheets by month, year, and grade level. 
  • In the first column, print the name of each course. Include subjects that were not legally required as well for a complete transcript. 
  • Use the third column to show the number of credits earned. 
  • Optional but recommended is a column for the number of hours spent on studying any given subject. 

You do not need letter-grades for an unschooled student. Since they don’t always do standard bookwork, there’s no real need to create percentage-based grades. If your unschooler does written work in a subject, be sure to file it in a folder and label it clearly for later reference. 

Getting an Accredited Diploma As an Unschooler

Since we’ve already established how to issue a diploma to an unschooler in the traditional homeschool manner, let’s look at another simple option. Unschoolers can get a high school diploma from an accredited school by taking some classes through that school. This does not mean they need to spend four years going through a full set of courses, but it is a simple and effective way to meet some of the basic prerequisites. 

When we choose to unschool, it involves trusting our children to learn what they need by self-led learning. As parents, it is our job to keep records and help guide the students to meaningful and useful experiences to accomplish this. Discuss taking some core classes through an online or correspondence school. You’ll discover your eager learners are more than willing to pursue this path. Especially when it means they don’t need to give up all their freedom. 

Parents who want to have their unschooler earn an accredited diploma need to understand that no homeschool can receive accreditation under the current laws. Likewise, a curriculum cannot be accredited. Only the institution that teaches can have that certification. It is always vital to thoroughly research schools’ accreditation before enrolling. Otherwise, your student may discover later that their diploma is not valid. 

I highly recommend Citizens Online High School for this type of diploma. This fantastic and highly lauded, accredited school has a unique homeschool-friendly program. Under this system, a homeschool parent teaches seventy-five percent of the courses, and the school teaches twenty-five percent. This is enough for Citizens to issue a student who passes their online classes a diploma under the school. 

Doing this will bypass the need to worry about creating a homeschool diploma. Instead, your child will have a standard, verifiable diploma from an accredited school. Additionally, the list of the available curriculum is extensive and excellent. It’s not hard to find enough classes for any homeschooler to graduate through this school. 

Another option is to use the transfer credit system offered by Citizens, which can involve taking as few as five courses during the entirety of a student’s high school career. While many fine institutes offer accredited diplomas, Citizens is one of the easiest, most trusted, and most well-known. 


Put Student’s Needs First When Planning for Graduation

Every parent dreams of who they think their children will be as adults, but it is vital to consider their choices when looking at graduation. Unschoolers use their diplomas to do everything from heading to the Ivy League to starting a business. Sit down with your child at least once per year in high school, preferably at the beginning of the year. Ask them what they plan to do after graduation and help them reach those goals. 

Especially for children who dream of attending prestigious universities, there are additional requirements. From community service and extracurricular activities that are in line with their intended course of study to AP classes, planning can be more difficult for highly motivated learners. Unschoolers tend to fall into that category more often than not. As many as eighty, three percent of unschoolers will seek some form of higher education

Meanwhile, a student who prefers military service or wants to start their own business may not need more than a basic diploma to move on with their adult plans. Trusting your kids to learn, and self-motivate is a big part of this journey. As the guardian and guide in their early school years, you need to help them tailor their reality to meet those goals and expectations to succeed. 


Final Thoughts

Like all homeschoolers, unschoolers are students. Since they spend hours each day on learning, their learning is just as valid as any other format, and as a result, unschool students deserve a diploma when they finish high school. Putting together a transcript doesn’t need to be extra-complicated, but it does need to cover all the prerequisites for your district. 

Depending on your homeschooler’s future goals and how simple you want to make the process, opting for an accredited diploma can smooth the way. While colleges and universities, the military, and most employers are happy to take homeschool and unschool students, it does come with extra paperwork. Either system is valid, but especially for students who want to head to a traditional higher learning institute, it can help to spend at least a year or two working in a more standard format. 

An unschool diploma can look like any homeschool diploma or be from an accredited school. Both systems are valid and acceptable, so choose the one that works best for your student. 

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