High School Homeschooling FAQ
While still firmly committed to the idea of homeschooling and the choices it provides, many parents begin to second guess their decision as their child approaches the high school age.
Some believe they are not qualified to teach the challenging subject matter, others worry that their child will have difficulty being accepted into a college without a traditional high school diploma, and still others worry that high school is a key time for youth to begin to socialize with other young adults in a formalized setting.
Fortunately, there are answers to many of those same concerns and it is possible to continue to homeschool through high school with great success.
What is Needed for College Prep?
Although it was difficult in the past for homeschoolers to make their way into college, most higher education institutions today think highly of homeschoolers and are open to accepting homeschooled students.
Because a homeschooler will not have traditional grades, colleges will most likely put more emphasis on SAT and other standardized test scores. However, colleges also recognize that success in higher education is not solely based on grades, but rather the ability to manage time well, to be well-rounded, and to communicate effectively. This is why a well-developed portfolio and well-written essay will greatly improve homeschoolers’ chances of acceptance into the institution(s) of their choice.
The best approach is to directly contact the admissions office of any colleges of interest and ask them for their policies concerning homeschooled students.
How Do We Earn a High School Diploma?
Homeschoolers can decide for themselves how they feel about receiving a diploma. Many view the document as a representation of their accomplishment, to be framed and displayed. Others feel their portfolios and body of knowledge best represent what they have learned and do not feel a high school diploma is necessary.
The laws and regulations concerning a high school diploma vary by state though there is a positive trend toward acceptance of alternative certificates. Currently, only two states recognize high school diplomas issued by state-regulated home-school organizations but other options include parent-issued diplomas, diplomas from correspondence schools, or a General Educational Development exam (GED). Many colleges do not require a diploma for admissions but homeschoolers may want to complement their admissions packet with a more formalized diploma. Parents, as the recognized teacher-of-record, is authorized to sign the diploma once the student has fulfilled all the requirements of their home school.
How/Why Do High Schoolers Need the GED?
A well-known route for many high school homeschoolers is to pass the General Educational Development (GED) exam, which gives them an officially recognized diploma for college admissions. Most institutions and employers consider the GED to be the equivalent of a traditional high school diploma but students should still maintain and submit a portfolio of their work to accompany the GED, just as they would with a traditional high school diploma.
What About Dual Enrollment?
Students who wish to receive a traditional diploma or to participate in athletics or other activities at a local high school may choose to enroll in a public or private school full time or part-time for their senior year to receive graduation privileges.
The regulations and requirements for dual enrollment vary by school district but many are open to the idea since the burden of administrative paperwork is still on the homeschooling family. Parents and students need to stress the importance of complying with the regulations of the school while still following a homeschool schedule.
How About Accelerated High School?
A major advantage of homeschooling in high school is that most students can complete the required coursework earlier than through a traditional high school setting. This means that many students are able to take college credit courses while in their junior and senior years of high school.
Students and parents will need to check the procedure and requirements for their college of choice but in general, most colleges use the following guidelines:
Students must have the approval of their parent(s)/guardian(s) and of their high school principal. (Be sure to let the college know of your homeschool status and ask what alternative recommendation letter will suffice.)
Must be high school juniors or seniors, although under special circumstances younger students may be granted permission.
May be required to take a placement exam.
Maybe limited to a number of courses per term or total credits available.
How Does the Military Work for High Schoolers?
The High School Graduation Requirements for Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) have been increased effective August 1997. The class of 2002 was the first to graduate under these new requirements with a second increase in requirements to become applicable to the class of 2008.
In general, the required credits for science, mathematics, and computer technology have been increased and two years of the same second (foreign) language are now required. Details are available at the http://www.dodea.edu/college/grad.htm DoDEA Website.
Services such as academic resources, access to the library of the school, after-hours use of school facilities, and participation in music, sports, and other extracurricular and interscholastic activities are provided to homeschoolers on the same basis that such resources are made available to dependents enrolled in DoD schools.
What About Prom and Graduation?
In past years, homeschool parents in several states including Ohio, Florida, and New Jersey have organized statewide homeschool proms and in 2004 California joined them. Alternative options include local organized dances or dinners customized to the wants of the homeschoolers. Students can create or customize their own events or get the local homeschool co-op involved.
Although many schools do not grant graduation privileges to homeschoolers (unless they are enrolled in the school), many homeschoolers simply choose to have their own graduation ceremony. These can be larger, organized events in which several homeschools and organizations get together or they can be small, family-centered dinners. As with homeschooling itself, choices are available.
How to Plan an Incredibly Memorable Graduation Ceremony
While high school itself presents many new challenges for parents, the homeschooled high schooler also has additional responsibilities and decisions to make. The best advice is to become informed, ask questions, do research, and find the answers you need. If you are prepared and alert, homeschooling through high school can be a very rewarding experience.
More information about Homeschooling High School