Homeschooling High School: A College Prep Diploma

Home Science Tools Banner
* This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. *

Did you like this article? If so, please help by sharing it!

When we began homeschooling high school, I designed my daughter’s courses based on the college prep track in my state’s graduation requirements. While she’s not the most studious kid in the world, she does plan to attend college. However, even if she had no plans for college, I would still base her high school education after a college prep model.

Why? I love what Lee Binz says about college prep and homeschooling high school.

“Rigorous academics could benefit children even though they are not planning for higher education. Without college, a homeschool education could very well be the only formal education a student will be given.”

If your child isn’t planning on attending college, his homeschool education will be the highest level of formal learning he will complete. Therefore, making the education you provide be the best it can be, you’ll be giving your child the tools he needs to succeed in the workforce.

Then, there is also the fact that kids change their minds. The student who may think that college is not in her future may decide, upon graduation, that she wants to pursue a higher level of education. It’s best to be prepared for any eventuality.

image created by jscreationzs on Free Digital Photos

My husband, who has rarely expresses any strong feelings about how I homeschool has made it clear that he expects each of our kids to graduate from our homeschool with a diploma, rather than taking the GED.

This came up in one of those fun family discussions that ensued after it became clear that a certain someone was slacking on her schoolwork. I told her that if she didn’t do the work that I required of her with an acceptable level of comprehension, I would not issue her a diploma and she would have to take the GED.

My husband quickly nixed that idea.

Because of his experience in the workforce, he is adamant that our children complete the level of work required to graduate from our homeschool – even if that means they work longer than they would have had to if they’d applied themselves. He feels that a GED often holds people back from potential jobs or job advancements because the implication is that the person didn’t apply himself and complete school.

I realize that can be a controversial statement and, if you know me well, you know I try to avoid controversy here on WUHS (and in life). You don’t have to agree with my husband’s opinion – honestly, I don’t have to agree with his opinion, but I do have to respect his wishes for our children’s education – but, I have seen, over and over, the fact that a college degree trumps work and life experience nine times out of ten. It stands to reason, then, that a high school diploma may trump a GED.


image created by David Castillo Dominici on Free Digital Photos

I think another great option for kids, in addition to a good, solid homeschool high school education, is apprenticeship. Although I will do my best to prepare each of my kids for college, I am okay with the fact that that college may not be in the future of each.

A while back, I posted some thoughts shared by Mike Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, about the current skills gap in the United States that has been created by the fact that we have over-emphasized the necessity of a college education while looking down on those in the trade industry.

Rowe accurately points out that skilled blue-collar workers are a sorely-needed, declining breed. I think we, as a nation, lost something when an apprenticeship became a quaint, nostalgic piece of history, rather than a means of passing down a skilled trade from a master craftsman to his successor.

While it is difficult in today’s world to secure an apprenticeship position, the potential is a little more within the realm of possibility for homeschooled students. I would encourage you, as the parent of a homeschooled child, to be aware of his natural bents, giftings, and talents and look for opportunities to encourage them.

One of the smartest things my in-laws ever did was find an apprenticeship-type position for my husband when he was an older teenager. He went to work for a self-employed appliance repairman. As an adult, there isn’t much that my husband can’t fix.

We’ve had the same dryer for over 20 years. It would have been replaced ten years ago, if not for my husband. Instead, he’s repaired it numerous times for less than $20 each time – we’re nowhere near close to approaching what a new dryer would have cost.

With that in mind, even if the apprenticeship position you secure for your child never results in a career, it can be a wonderful opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge that will benefit their family later or nurture a beloved hobby.

For our family, a college prep high school track while keeping our eyes open for apprenticeship opportunities top our list of the best ways to prepare our children for life after homeschool.


Be sure to visit these brilliant women during our 10 days adventure between November 7th-18th!

+ posts

Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

Did you like this article? If so, please help by sharing it!


  1. Our experience has been that college is not the ONLY end to a really good homeschool high school journey. If college prep causes the student to miss out on interest driven learning, then it is not a good fit. I encourage rigorous learning but at the same time am very aware that not all children NEED college. I am so glad that you balanced your entry showing how to allow for differences in gifts and interest. Good job Kris.

  2. I wish your husband's reaction wasn't the norm, but I think it is.  On paper (applications and resumes) we cannot often see the life experiences that transpired for someone to decide to take the GED test.  I have taught in the public schools and now teach at a non-profit where the goal is for students to earn either a HS diploma or a GED.  There are some kids that are tailor made to take the GED (I have one right now who is a young mother in the foster care system living states away from any family who is still learning English), but even she is aware of the stigma that exists for GED.  I don't want her to be shortchanged any opportunities in life, but I also know that at this time it's going to be downright near impossible for her attain her diploma.

    I don't disagree at all with what you or your husband think; I just wish the general consensus could change about GED.  Traditional routes for education aren't for everyone as they are not often customizable to the individual needs of each learner.  If only our government, society, whoever could accept that.  Many of the students I teach work INCREDIBLY hard to earn their GED, and it should be celebrated and honored.  It breaks my heart that at some point someone may look down at a piece of paper and write them and their hard work off.

    Yikes!  What a novel of a comment.  I completely enjoy the series you have going about homeschooling high schoolers.  I've been learning a lot.  Love the blog.

  3. I agree.  It makes me sad when I hear homeschool moms say that their child isn't college bound and basically take that as a license to be mediocre.

  4. I agree. My step-sister earned her GED and she is a very intelligent woman for whom circumstances made it difficult to finish high school. She is not a quitter or an underacheiver. I think my husband's opinion is based both one what he has seen in the workforce (not on his personal opinion of people who have chosen to earn a GED) and on his own experience of not having earned a college degree and often seeing a degree take precedence over work experience. It's really a shame that so much in our current job market is based on a piece of paper.

  5. Thanks, Barb. You know I always value your input based on your experience because you already have children reaping the rewards of a wonderful homeschool experience.

  6. I'm not sure about every state, but in mine, there's a higher-level test than the GED — the California High School Proficiency Exam –that is fully equivalent to a diploma. I took it when I was 16 and then went on to graduate from a four-year university.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.