In our area, having a GED implies you didn’t finish high school. Although we know some people will still give more credence to a GED than to a homeschool diploma, we’re uncomfortable with the stigma attached to the GED. Because of this, my new homeschool graduates and I have elected to use a carefully prepared homeschool diploma instead.
Three of my six children have graduated from our home high school. If you’re not there yet, you aren’t being premature in reading this. The time arrives more quickly than you can imagine!
Parents typically worry about whether a homeschool diploma will be “good enough” for college, or for employment purposes, if the student does not attend college. My three graduates have accumulated fourteen years of adulthood among them, and they have been asked for their diplomas exactly twice, so our family hasn’t found this to be of concern frequently.
When my eldest son was a college student, he applied for a job unloading boxes at a warehouse. My son got the job, but was asked to bring his high school diploma when he went to sign the necessary paperwork. When she noticed he was homeschooled, the Human Resources employee asked for a phone number she could call to confirm the validity of his diploma. He gave her mine!
I was caught off guard, but offered to provide papers proving his diploma was legitimate. With time of the essence, I quickly printed off several articles stating that homeschooling is legal in our state and dashed to the office, armed with this “proof”. Prepared for a battle, I’m sure I appeared rather indignant and confrontational when I arrived at the office. I think the Human Resources employee was afraid I would end up suing, because she reluctantly added the papers I offered to my son’s file, after telling me “anyone” could provide their child with a homemade diploma.
He did get the job, but I was more prepared the next time this kind of thing occurred. I’ve learned to be matter-of-fact, and far less defensive. One potential employer questioned whether my daughter’s diploma was “real”, because she had written on her job application that she was homeschooled. He was one of the few people who took time to read the diploma thoroughly, and he noticed it was signed by someone with the same last name.
Since, in our state, we are required to submit periodic test results for our homeschooled children, I was able to obtain a “letter of compliance” from the school district, stating that our home program complied with State law. That official-looking letter, signed by the school superintendent, satisfied the employer, and my daughter got the job. Since that time, I have requested a letter of compliance as each of my children graduate, and I keep it with our important papers. If your state has any requirements at all for homeschooling, you should be able to obtain a similar letter.
On a job application, simply stating that you have earned a high school diploma is usually adequate. Employers seldom ask for proof. When they do, they don’t usually read the diploma. They either glance at it, or photo-copy it without looking at it.
I tell my kids to write the actual date they graduated (June 6, 2009) on their job applications, because a specific graduation date lends credibility to their claim. They don’t ever ask in advance whether a homeschool diploma will be acceptable, and they don’t apologize or otherwise refer to their diploma as being”different”. Their attitude is one of assuming the diploma they have earned is sufficient.
Making a Diploma
Technically, a high school diploma is simply a keepsake for the student’s benefit. When education is crucial, schools and employers will ask for a transcript, test results, or more. But, because a high school diploma is usually accepted as proof of high school completion, it’s important to provide your student with a professional appearing diploma that is less likely to be questioned.
Use a good quality paper, and spring for a padded certificate holder. Spell everything correctly, and make sure the font and wording are very similar to a typical diploma. I think using the style that declares “Homeschool Diploma” across the top is asking for trouble. I’ve chosen a template that says “High School Diploma” instead. Although I don’t want to call attention to the fact that the diploma is from homeschooling, I don’t want to be dishonest, either. Because a parent is usually the teacher, it’s only right for that parent to be the person who signs the diploma.
There may be a time when one of my kids is forced to get a GED but, as colleges and employers become more aware of homeschooling success stories, I hope the chances of that happening are slim. My adult children and I have agreed that we are happy to be promoting some of that awareness.
Kelly Stone is owner of The Homeschooler's Curriculum Swap, the oldest used curriculum site on the Internet. She is a homeschooling mom of six children, ages 8 through 29. The eldest three children have graduated from the family's homeschool high school. Kelly lives in Oregon, where she is a freelance writer and online marketing representative.