Graduation

“How does my child get a diploma?” is a question new home school parents often ask. The simple answer is, “You give them one.” But for the longer, more detailed answer…

Receiving a Diploma or Its Equivalent

Personal Graduation

You can graduate them. Because a home school is considered a private school in Texas, the administrators of a home school (the parents) have the ability to determine the requirements for graduation for its students just as any other private school. When your child has completed what you have determined to be your school’s requirements for graduation, you may graduate him and give him a diploma.

Umbrella School Diploma

If your child is enrolled in an umbrella school, he will probably receive a diploma from the school when its requirements are met. Be sure to determine whether the umbrella school requires a student to be enrolled for the entire four years of high school in order to receive a diploma or if it allows other options.

GED

Your student may obtain a certificate of high school equivalency – general educational development (GED). If you are uncomfortable taking full responsibility for awarding a diploma, your student can take the GED test to prove competency. This is certainly not a requirement or even a recommendation, but it is an option that some parents choose. Students can take the GED exam through their local school district, community college, adult education center, or university. Call the toll-free GED hotline anytime at 800-626-9433 (800-62 MY GED) for the location of a test site in your area.

Graduation Ceremonies

This is the fun part of graduating a student from your home school academy! Although a person’s education is not complete at the end of high school, home schoolers often like to participate in this rite of passage into the adult world. Many local and regional support groups sponsor commencement ceremonies in which parents and students may participate. These ceremonies are very similar to those provided by any school. An exciting difference between home school graduations and those given by traditional schools is that, usually, the parents are able to participate along with their student. This experience has provided special memories for many families across the state.

Usually the support group will have a coordinator who will deal with the issues of cap and gown, pictures, invitations, and the time and location of the event. Sometimes there may be a group of parents that gets together to do this. The program for the actual graduation ceremony will be determined by the coordinator or by the parents working together. Often these ceremonies are intimate with twenty or less graduates—and the memories are priceless. After the actual ceremony, often there is a reception at which each graduate has a table decorated to his taste, that reflects where he has been, what he has accomplished, and what his future plans are.

Beyond Graduation

Another oft-asked question from new home educators concerns what happens after home schooling. The options for home school graduates are no different from those for any other high school graduates. They include apprenticeship, college, employment, marriage and family, the military, and trade schools. On succeeding pages, several of these options are addressed. Students should feel confident about their home school education, because home school graduates have proven to be excellent students when they choose to further their education, conscientious employees, and successful members of the armed forces.

Apprenticeship

Many home educators are returning to this time-tested method of training for employment. Read an article explaining more about this option.

College

Many home schoolers successfully attend college after graduation. There are a number of ways for home school students to make the transition to college. The specifics may vary, based upon the needs and goals of the student. Some have begun college work while completing their high school-level work by taking courses at a local college for dual credit. Some begin after high school graduation by enrolling in a local junior college and later transferring those credits to a four-year university.

Employment

As home education becomes more accepted, home educators are seeing attitudes and laws change that have been discriminatory in the past. For example, in 2003 in the Texas legislature, in a measure that merged the Registered Nursing Board and the Vocational Nursing Board, the prior requirement for a high school diploma for an accredited school was deleted. Home school graduates are now accepted on the same bases as public high school graduates.

Employment application procedures are the same as with any other graduate. If asked about a high school diploma, the home school graduate has no need to apologize or hide the fact that he was educated at home. He simply needs to explain that he received his high school diploma from a home school, which in Texas is considered the same as a diploma received from any other private school. (It should be noted that, like home schools, two thirds of the traditional private schools in Texas are not accredited.)

Marriage and Family

Just as home educators have chosen a route different from that of the general public for educating their children, many are also encouraging their young people to choose a different method of finding a life partner. These are returning to the time-honored tradition of courtship rather that dating.

Also going against the trend in society, many young families are choosing for the mom to stay home as they plan to homeschool their own children as their mothers educated them. This is as viable and noble a goal as any other the other choices discussed here.

Military

The United States military is an admirable career field open to almost any home school graduate. For reasons explained in the article, Military Recruitment and Acceptance of Home School Graduates, those who wish to have a military opportunity for their students should look for classroom opportunities for their children, including dual credit classes at junior colleges or college classes after graduation.

Proprietary or Trade Schools

A home school graduate may attend trade schools in Texas. If asked about a high school diploma, he may simply explain that he received his diploma from a home school. In 1999 the Texas Administrative Code dealing with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and admission into proprietary schools {Section 807.2(21)} was modified to define secondary education as “successful completion of public, private or home schooling at the high school level or obtainment of a recognized high school equivalency credential.”

Law Enforcement

Another career that is open to home school graduates is law enforcement. Texas allows high school graduates to attend police academies hosted by junior colleges or cities for the purpose of training potential police officers. In 2004 the director of education and training for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) clarified state policy for these academies by stating, “…an academy may not require more of a homeschooler than they do for any other applicant.”

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