As your child nears high school age, you find yourself wondering how to graduate a homeschooled student. Great news! The following article will show you that it doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating.
Once your kids hit middle school or so, the Homeschool Inquisition usually shifts from the age-old socialization question to inquiries such as “how are they going to graduate high school?” and “what about college?”.
The big difference is that the socialization question is usually a non-issue, but graduation and secondary education are vital considerations for families homeschooling high school.
So, what do you need to know about how to graduate a homeschooled student? Following are some essentials based on my experience.
Know the Homeschooling Law
Most importantly, make sure you understand the homeschool laws governing your state. My go-to sites for a breakdown of homeschool laws are HSLDA and the statewide homeschool support website, GHEA, for where I live. If you’re not sure where to find your state’s homeschool support group, HSLDA maintains a listing of homeschool support groups by state.
Most states don’t maintain guidelines for graduating a homeschooled student. In most cases, the homeschooling parent determines the graduation requirements for your student. Upon completion of those requirements, you issue your graduate a high school diploma.
Some notable exceptions are Pennsylvania, New York, and North Dakota. These states do have specific course requirements. Be sure that you understand with your state’s laws so that you and your student don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises.
Other states, such as Tennessee, offer the option to be a part of an umbrella school. The umbrella school has its graduation requirements. They maintain records and transcripts based on the information submitted by the teaching parent. When the student satisfies the graduation requirements, the umbrella school issues a high school diploma.
Both parent-issued and umbrella school diplomas are usually non-accredited. However, most colleges accept them if homeschooled students meet the school’s entrance requirements. Check the school’s homeschool admissions policies on their website.
Consider Your High School Student’s Plans
One smart piece of advice for parents planning to homeschool through high school is, consider your student’s post-graduate plans and choose courses accordingly. If your student has a specific school in mind, check the school’s admissions requirements before your student’s 9th-grade year, and ensure that she is on track to meet them.
Most colleges and universities require high school course basics, such as four years each of English and math; three to four years of science; three years of social studies/history; and two years of foreign language, along with several elective credits.
One resource for homeschooling high school that I found helpful was The Homescholar Guide to College Admissions and Scholarships by Lee Binz. The best piece of advice that I took from Lee was this: Even if your student doesn’t plan to attend college, give him a college prep high school education. Teenagers change their minds. And, if your student doesn’t change his mind, the high school education you provide will be the highest level of education he receives.
Even if your student’s plans include a college alternative, such as trade or vocational school, an apprenticeship, or going into the workforce, you want to provide him with a solid high school education.
However, it is essential to realize that you should still tailor a college prep education to your student. Your student’s transcript does not need to look just like a public school student’s for him to get into college or qualify for scholarships. You’re free to offer alternatives to traditional high school courses.
Keep High School Transcripts
Keeping transcripts is a must for college-bound teens. And, you may be surprised to find that other post-secondary education options ask for transcripts.
My oldest attended a private cosmetology school. They only teach cosmetology, so it’s a trade school. We still had to provide a copy of her transcript because it’s in a neighboring state. Their homeschool laws are different from those in Georgia, so they wanted to see what courses she’d taken.
If you’re not part of an umbrella school or other organization that supplies one, there are several options for creating a high school transcript.
- Covenant College offers an excellent – and FREE – high school transcript form. Just scroll down for the link to the PDF or editable version.
- Total Transcript Solution is excellent and takes the fear and confusion out of keeping transcripts.
I used to use the original grades and attendance forms from Donna Young’s site to keep track of my kids’ grades for each high school year. Then, I’d transfer their grades to their high school transcripts at the end of each school year.
You really don’t want to forget to update the transcripts at the end of each school year. Trust me on this.
Complete Standardized Testing
If your high school student plans to attend college after graduation, he’ll most likely need to complete the ACT or SAT. If nothing else, he’ll have to take an entrance exam for the specific school he’ll be attending. But what about kids who will be going into the workforce, an apprenticeship, or a trade school?
I chose to have my oldest take the ACT even though she didn’t plan to go to college. People may question my “mommy grades,” but they can’t challenge a standardized test score. Even if they suspect that my kids spent their four years of high school playing video games and posting Facebook status updates (not the case), they can’t argue with their score on a test that most high school graduates take.
Some students perform better on the SAT, while others perform better on the ACT. Depending on your student’s plans, it may be wise to have her take both tests and go with the one on which she scores better.
Also, some schools accept the highest grade in each category of the ACT, not just the composite score. Check with the schools your student is attending to decide if it would be worthwhile for her to take the test more than once.
Apply for Scholarships for Homeschoolers
Guess what. Homeschooled students can get college scholarships just like public and private schooled students. For example, homeschoolers are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship, based on PSAT and NMSQT scores, as long as they take the qualifying test at an approved testing location.
Homeschooled athletes should check out scholarships offered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NCIA).
Other scholarships for which homeschoolers are eligible include:
- Four annual scholarships offered by Homeschool Legal Defense (Also check out their list of other scholarship opportunities for homeschoolers.)
- Chick-fil-A employee scholarships
- Sonlight scholarships for homeschoolers who use their curriculum
- RiSE Scholarship Foundation for students with ADD, ADHD, or other documented learning disabilities
- Society of Women Engineers for female students pursuing a career in engineering, computer science or engineering technology
For many seasoned homeschool parents, the high school years bring back all the fear and trepidation of the first year of homeschooling. However, by educating yourself and developing a plan, you can successfully navigate the high school years with your homeschooled student.
If you have graduated a homeschooled student, what tips would you add?