One of the scariest, “break out into a cold sweat” concerns for every homeschool mom I know with a high schooler is figuring out graduation.
Will my homeschooler have to take the GED instead of getting an official diploma?
Who actually decides when they can graduate?
How does my college-prep homeschooler get a final transcript?
And what about a graduation ceremony?
Maybe these questions are currently bringing on a small panic attack. Or maybe you just like to know your future options, in case you decide to go all the way with this crazy homeschooling gig.
Either way, here’s everything you need to know about how to graduate your homeschooler without breaking a sweat!
1. The GED vs Diploma
So, let’s start by clearly stating that GED is NOT the only option for a homeschooler, and usually not the best option at all.
In the past, a GED was the default path for anyone who dropped out or did not graduate from a public or private high school. The GED program was created in 1942 as a way for military personnel and veterans who had enlisted before finishing high school to enter college or get certain jobs. By 1974, all 50 US states were offering the GED option to non-veteran civilians as well.
Many of us know someone, like my Grandma Ellen, who was unable to continue her education all the way through high school, and went back later to proudly get her GED. Yay, grandma!
Today, the GED is often viewed less positively by colleges and the general public.
When I first began homeschooling way beck in 2004, I remember reading about how homeschoolers had to take the GED as proof of finishing high school. Unfortunately, that misinformation is still floating around confusing people.
The truth is that you can, and usually should, give your homeschooler a diploma, just like they would get when graduating from any high school, instead of having them take the GED.
Heard that this homeschool diploma will not count because it is not accredited? Unless your state has specific diploma requirements, a self-issued diploma will be just fine. A diploma is just a signed paper showing the completion of studies.
Who decides when your child has completed high school and what classes they have to take to graduate? If you are in charge of their homeschooling and not using an online or private school option, then it’s YOU! Just try to make sure that your child has taken the classes needed for the next step in life or later on down the road, especially if that could involve higher education.
And where can you get your hands on one of these homeschool diplomas?
Well, there are lots of diploma creation sites, including Homeschool Diploma or HSLDA, where you can order the diploma, cover, and even a wallet-sized diploma (in case they want to keep it close instead of stuffed in a box like the rest of us).
Or you can even create and print your own. Just make sure it includes your child’s name and the name of your homeschool (you get to choose that), and says that they have completed their studies, along with a date and your signature.
For example, the wording on a Florida high school diploma usually includes the phrase, “satisfactorily completed all requirements according to the Florida standards for high school graduation”.
Who will see this homeschool diploma? Definitely anyone at the graduation ceremony or party (keep reading for more about that), or anyone who sees it framed on their wall (or stuffed in that box). Employers or colleges could possibly ask to see it also.
And while most colleges do not ask to see the diploma, they will definitely want to see this next important graduation item.
2. The Final Transcript
Unless you are using an option for high school that does this for you, every homeschool mom gets to create something that almost all of the four year colleges and universities will want to see called a high school transcript.
Even if your child has ZERO college plans at the moment, go ahead and make one just to be safe.
Creating one is not crazy hard, but it is a little tedious and time-consuming, and requires some planning (and maybe extra coffee consumption) on your part.
A transcript is a summary with the name of each completed high school class, along with final grades, credits earned, weighted and unweighted GPA and Cumulative GPA, and any testing or other information that a college may want to see.
It’s basically a snapshot of everything your child did in high school.
Which is where the planning comes in. Because if you are creating the transcript, or having someone create one for you, you will need to have all of those details from 9th grade or even earlier for all high school courses taken.
EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
Want some more details about this? Here’s an article with everything you need to know about creating a great high school transcript.
So, how do you know exactly what credits your high schooler will need? Much of that depends on what they intend to do next.
Which may seem CRAZY if your child is not even close to graduation yet or has no clue what he or she wants to do. You should still contact whatever universities, community colleges, trade schools, or other programs your future graduate could possibly be interested in to find out their admission requirements regarding total credits, specific high school classes, and minimum testing scores.
Now, if just reading this is making you sweat, please contact me. I love helping moms with their transcripts, and you can find out all the details about my high school transcript service.
Because you definitely want to save some time and energy for the best part of graduation…
3. The Graduation Ceremony or Party
Ok, so this one really scared me until I realized that there was more than one way to do a high school graduation ceremony.
I had cold sweat flashbacks of wearing a white cap and gown. Waiting nervously to try walking across the stage in kitten heels without tripping in front of friends, family, and a bunch of strangers. And listening to someone sing a song like “Friends are Friends Forever”. Ahh, the 90’s!
I found all kinds of options for ceremonies like this in my state when my oldest was about to graduate. You can too, like this graduation ceremony at the FPEA convention. We also discussed hosting our own small formal ceremony, but my daughter said she would rather have a big fun party with all of her family and friends.
So you know what we did?
Yup. The party. Complete with a giant blow-up slide for adults and kids, a photo montage of her pics through the years, a taco bar, a crazy balloon wall, a selfie station, and a dance floor with her crazy DJ dad.
We bought all the essentials:
- a cap and gown (pink, of course)
- a giant inflatable unicorn float & jumbo balloons (for the dance floor decorations)
- the invitations, which included crazy-cool graduation pics by the ah-mazing Jessica Case.
Everyone came, brought gifts, and kept talking about how fun it was for a long time!
We remembered everything, except taking lots of pictures to document it! Here’s our only one, snapped right before everyone arrived.
We celebrated her graduation just like we homeschooled her – the Savage Mom way – completely different from the “norm” and enjoyable for everyone!
Two years later, my son chose to do the same thing with two of his buddies, who were also graduating, and we remembered to get a few more pics of their graduation party.
Now, can you do both a graduation ceremony and a party? Of course! Just make sure you include your senior in this decision so that it truly ends up being the best possible ending for everyone to your homeschooling journey.
Here’s the bottom line: you can graduate your homeschooler with confidence. Including the diploma, transcript, and graduation celebration of your choosing.
Already done it? Comment below with your best homeschool graduation tips. Still have some more questions? Contact me to discuss your specific graduation situation.
So your high schooler’s homeschool graduation can be a piece of cake AND no sweat!