Everything You Should Know About Issuing A Homeschool Diploma
You’re probably homeschooling for a variety of reasons. Maybe you felt like you could provide a better, more individualized education than the public school system. Maybe your child has special needs that the school couldn’t meet. Or maybe your child was being bullied, and the school wasn’t able to keep him safe.
Whatever your reasons for homeschooling, you took on a big job all because you wanted to do what was best for your child. The last thing in the world you want is to negatively impact your child’s academic future.
So let’s take a minute to talk about high school diplomas.
What is a homeschool diploma?
A high school diploma is a certificate that documents the completion of a course of study. A high school diploma certifies that a student has successfully completed a program of secondary education.
Upon graduation of your homeschool, your teen earns a homeschool diploma, whether you actually print him a certificate to commemorate the occasion or not. Homeschools can issue diplomas just like any other institution of learning.
Does my child need a diploma?
When your child applies to universities, he will need to submit a homeschool transcript as part of his application. But I’ve never seen diploma required. They are so easy to forge that they are no longer considered to be adequate evidence of high school graduation.
My oldest graduated 4 years ago, and my third child just graduated. Plus, all 3 of my recent graduates have earned associates degrees during high school, each of which required dealing with college admission personnel. So I’ve been neck deep in university admission for the last four years, and I’ve only ever had them ask for transcripts — never for diplomas.
That said, a friend of mine told me about two instances with her oldest son needing his homeschool diploma. One of his first jobs out of high school required a diploma, so she had to hurry and print one up. She titled it Homeschool Diploma, included the necessary information, and signed it.
Then she dropped it off at his place of employment. The human resource manager was very skeptical of it and told her that any parent could print that off for a child. She actually had to prove to him that the state allowed homeschools to graduate students and issue diplomas.
The second instance was for a job in China, and the high school diploma was a requirement for her sons working visa. She had previously learned a lesson and printed a new, more official looking diploma with High School Diploma (rather than Homeschool Diploma) printed across the top. It worked fine — no questions asked.
Both of these situations happened well over ten years ago, and none of her subsequent children have ever needed their diplomas. I think high school diplomas may gradually be growing less well-regarded or necessary. Human resource managers seem to have realized that diplomas can be forged easily. It may take overseas employers longer to figure that out.
The three situations below are instances when diplomas would be required:
The military will require a diploma
Diplomas are necessary for military acceptance. Homeschool diplomas are also accepted by the United States military. A high school transcript validating the parent-issued diploma will also be requested and should suffice for proving that the student met the requirements eligible for graduation.
Foreign employers may require a diploma
It is much more common for overseas employers to request all certifications and diplomas. During the application process, human resourse employees seldom even read the diploma, though. Rather, they just photo copy it and check the associated box on the list of documents.
If your child has plans to work overseas, it would be a good idea to take care of the diploma now, along with his transcript, and file them away for safekeeping.
Your teen might choose not to pursue higher education
In the event that your teen chooses not to attend college, high school would be his highest level of education. As such, his homeschool diploma could become a symbol of what he had accomplished academically. It might be important to him.
Do diplomas need to be “accredited?
Plain and simple, nope! Not even all public and private schools are accredited. It doesn’t matter a bit to universities or employers or the military whether the diploma is from an accredited institution or not.
In fact, the high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by the best colleges in the nation. Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke all actively recruit homeschoolers and have made the entire application process very homeschool friendly.
If you worry about accreditation, though, there are organizations which will give homeschooled students an accredited diploma (for a fee) upon completion of their program.
Do I need outside approval before issuing a homeschool diploma?
No. Hallelujah! You issue the diploma completely under your own authority.
Where do I get a homeschool diploma?
Most homeschoolers create their own. See below for more information about creating your own homeschool diploma.
If you’d prefer that an outside entity issue issue your teen’s diploma, here are a few ideas for how to make that happen.
- Enroll your teen with a supervising institution like NARHS, which will issue your child’s diploma once all requirements for graduation have been met.
- Some states allow homeschooled students to earn diplomas from local public schools as long as they follow a prescriped course of study. This is rare, though.
- Students who school-at-home using an online public school option, such as K12, will receive a state-issued high school diploma. These students are technically considered public school students by the school.
- Students who are homeschooled through an umbrella school will generally receive a diploma from that institution.
- You could enroll your student in a private distance learning or online school such as Alpha Omega Academy or Abeka Academy. Just check to make sure the private option you choose will issue diplomas and transcripts, because some don’t.
What if I want to print my own?
No problem! Most homeschool parents issue their children diplomas they create themselves. There are a lot of options here, depending on how fancy you want to get.
You could just purchase a blank certificate from a stationery store and fill in the blanks. Or, if you want a high-quality diploma, you could create it using photoshop or canva software and either print it at home or have it printed at a copy shop on heavy linen paper.
If you want to get really fancy, and don’t mind spending some money, I’ve seen beautiful, custom-printed, official-looking homeschool diplomas, complete with an embossed, foil seal, for sale on etsy and other online providers. Or you could even purchase a diploma with an embossed leather case through HSLDA’s store.
A high-quality diploma could seem more legitimate to potential schools or employers, should it ever be required.
Creating a Homeschool Diploma
- State that it is a high school diploma
- Include the name of the homeschool issuing the diploma
- The city and state in which the diploma is issued
- The name of the student
- Language stating that the student finished the program of secondary education that was required of him.
- Enter the signature of the person who oversaw the program
- Add the date it was issued
Individual homeschools are considered non-accredited private schools, and most colleges, universities, and employers accept homeschool diplomas as proof of high school graduation. As the parent, you’ve prescribed your child’s course of study and you can present a diploma that indicates he has successfully completed it.
If you decide to print your own, it’s important to provide your child with a professional appearing diploma, so it’s unlikely to be questioned. Use a good quality paper, use spell check, and make sure the font and wording are very similar to an official diploma.
Title your certificate High School Diploma instead of ‘Homeschool Diploma’ in order to avoid possible doubts. After all, they’re the same thing.
Will a homeschool diploma be recognized by the military?
If you want to enter the military as a homeschooler, you will need to submit a parent-issued high school diploma, as well as a detailed and comprehensive homeschool transcript. It should outline all of the student’s high school coursework and demonstrate that the student has met at least the basic graduation requirements for his state.
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The military will accept homeschool documents. In fact, they prefer homeschool documents to the GED, and are moving away from accepting the GED at all.
Diploma or GED?
The GED has always been associate with high school drop-outs, unfortunately. There is a stigma attached to it. For this reason, most homeschoolers elect to use a homeschool diploma instead.
Prior to 2014, multiple studies showed that the GED was much less rigorous than four years of learning. It tested far below the standards associated with a common high school education. The test was rewritten in 2014 to improve it and align it to common core standards.
The test is now more rigorous, and solely computer-based, (and far more expensive!) but now 9 times fewer adults can even pass it. So it is still viewed in the same negative light it always has been. Some states are looking at alternatives to replace the GED.
Should I also prepare a transcript?
Absolutely! In fact, your child’s transcript will see much more use than his diploma. Often, diploma’s end up just a nice keepsake, while college admissions applications, scholarship applications, and the military will all require a thorough transcript in order to determine his readiness for further education.
There are too many details about how to create a homeschool transcript to be able to share them all here. Click on the link below to learn everything you should know about creating a high school transcript.
My own diploma experience
If you are a sentimental person, you may not want to read this. It might make you cry.
When I graduated high school and moved away to college, I cleaned out the room I previously shared with my sister and boxed up all of my stuff. I didn’t have room to take all my keepsakes with me, and my parents didn’t have room to keep them for me, either. So I threw them all away.
My piano trophies, my speech and debate trophies, my skiing medals, my yearbooks, my award certificates, and yes, my high school diploma all went in the trash can. I haven’t regretted it.
I’m just the sort of person who doesn’t need to hang onto stuff. I find it freeing to toss things I don’t use regularly.
My husband is the complete opposite. He wants to keep everything, and he wants to buy more stuff just so he can keep it. It’s a good thing he’s married to me, because otherwise he could star on the TV series, Hoarders. He probably kept his high school diploma. I don’t know because I don’t look through his boxes — they give me anxiety.
My own aversion to excessive stuff, and especially paper clutter, are probably partially to blame for my 3 young adults lack of homeschool diploma certificates.
You read that right. Not one of my 3 high school (homeschool) graduates possesses a physical high school diploma. They all have transcripts, but no homeschool diplomas. I knew they would just throw them away (my kiddos are more like me than their father in that regard), so why would I voluntarily waste my time and money on them?
All 3 of these children are attending prestigious universities on full scholarship. My oldest is finishing up her bachelors degree, and my third just barely graduated our homeschool, with his associates degree.
In fact, each of my 3 oldest children earned associates degrees during high school, which may have contributed to their not seeing the point of receiving a paper high school diploma. But if any of them had wanted one as a keepsake, I absolutely would have created one.
The truth of the matter is that each of them actually did earn and receive a homeschool diploma. And each of them can write their graduation date on job applications if ever requested. What they did not receive was the paper certificate commemorating the occasion. And that’s okay!
One of the most beautiful things about homeschooling is that it is the epitome of freedom! I can educate my children in the exact way that is best for our family and for each child. And it carries all the way through to graduation. If your teen wants a beautiful, commemorative certificate — great! If not, that’s great, too!
Oh, and by the way, congratulations on your homeschool graduation! It might feel a little scary to you right now, but I promise you it just keeps getting better and better!
For those of you who have already graduated youth from your homeschool, I’d love to hear about how you handled the homeschool diploma! Please leave any suggestions or questions in the comments below.