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 Diplomas & Transcripts

What Does a Homeschool Diploma Mean?

Di·plo´·ma: noun.

"A certificate issued to a student by a school, college, or university, indicating graduation or conferring a degree."

There is nothing mysterious about a diploma issued by a homeschool. As the administrator of your school, you set the requirements for graduation. When you determine that your children have met those requirements, you issue a diploma to certify that fact.

The diploma is a convenient, (portable) physical representation of the fact that the work your student has done meets your standards for graduation.

There is nothing mysterious about a diploma issued by a homeschool. As the administrator of your school, you set the requirements for graduation. When you determine that your children have met those requirements, you issue a diploma to certify that fact.

Some families choose to enroll their children in an umbrella school or a correspondence school that offers a diploma program, and some states offer programs for homeschoolers to gain a state-accredited diploma. State-owned charter schools offer a 'conventional' diploma, and the convenience of having the curriculum determined for them, but many of the greatest blessings and biggest benefits of homeschooling are lost in these settings.

There are many who desire more educational freedom than such programs allow. By using the home school as an umbrella to encompass a wide variety of courses and educational experiences, families may 'tailor' the education of each child to his or her specific needs and interests, and then issue their own high school diploma.

"What does a homeschool diploma mean?"

The diploma is a convenient (portable), physical representation of the fact that the work your student has done meets your standards for graduation. If you were asked to PROVE that fact, you would show the records you have kept of their work, in other words, their transcript.

We recommend that you prepare a transcript for your student, regardless of whether you feel that they may need it. It is the kind of thing that is very difficult to do down the road a few years, and the transcript is the "meat" that "backs up" the diploma you issue. You may feel that there is no need to create a transcript from your homeschool because your student does not plan to attend college. Believe me, we hear from parents who have discovered the folly of this kind of thought!  We recently got a call from a 35 year old man who has decided that God is calling him to attend seminary, but the fact that his parents never kept any records with which to create a high school transcript is a real roadblock to admission.

You have no idea what your child's life will hold. You can give them a diploma very easily --  and don't neglect to do so -- but the transcript is equally important. To skip the transcript is to handicap your student with a lack of documentation!

You can give them a diploma very easily, but don't neglect the transcript unless you want to handicap them with a lack of documentation!

"What is accreditation and to whom does it matter?"

It is true that your home school -- and therefore your diploma -- is not accredited. What is accreditation? Accrediting agencies -- and there are many different ones -- set minimum standards that schools must uphold to receive and maintain accreditation. This allows them to guarantee that a credit issued by one school in the group will be equivalent to and accepted by other schools in the same group. The process of accreditation takes years to complete. It surprised me to learn from Inge Cannon of Education Plus that many public high schools are not accredited.

The fact that your homeschool does not have accreditation is not a negative thing. The standards you have set for educating your child are not the same as those of any other school, and you have no reason to try to prove that they are.

"Will the diploma I issue be accepted anywhere?"

Job applications usually have a box to check if the applicant has a high school diploma, and a line on which to write the name of the school. If your student has completed your requirements for graduation, there is no reason that they should not be able to say "YES." In fact, if you have supervised their education and they have met your requirements, you would be doing them a disservice if you did NOT issue them a diploma!

Of course, there is no guarantee that their diploma will be accepted by everyone -- no doubt you understood that when you made the decision to home school through the high school years. There are still situations where someone will say "Not good enough!"

"...if you have supervised their education and they have met your requirements, you would be doing them a disservice if you did NOT issue them a diploma!"

Be sure that you know that laws of your state and understand your legal position in such a situation. It may help to be able to point to a similar situation elsewhere where a homeschool diploma was "good enough," or you may decide to offer to provide a copy of the transcript, or submit to a test that they may require. Consider carefully whether complying with such requests is really necessary or prudent; the danger is that if many homeschoolers submit to these kinds of demands (demands made of homeschooled students but not of students from other types of schools), they may contribute to a climate where it becomes more difficult for future homeschoolers to keep their freedoms.

"Is a homeschool diploma a problem for college-bound students?"

For college-bound students, a home school diploma is usually not a problem, because the student's transcripts, test scores and application essay tell admissions officers a great deal about the quality of their education. In fact, the presence of a correspondence school diploma in the case of a home schooled student may actually be a detractor if it is viewed as the sum total of the student's education.

Transcripts, portfolios, student essays, and recommendations which demonstrate qualities such as creativity, leadership, initiative or other unique, homeschool-strengthened traits prove the worth of the homeschool diploma, especially if test scores back up the student's abilities in "measurable" academic areas.