Why your homeschooled kid doesn’t need a diploma

Why your kid DOESN’T need a diploma if you homeschool

Is a diploma something you need to worry about in your homeschool? 

Crazy answer ... probably NOT!

There is a HUGE misunderstanding about how diplomas and transcripts work … and what your kid actually needs to get into college.

So in today’s video, I’m going to put your mind at ease.

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Hello! My name is ToriAnn Perkey, and from my homeschool to your homeschool, today I want to talk about the difference between a diploma and an accredited transcript. This is a question that I get all the time. Does my kid need a diploma to graduate from high school? This is a question that you start thinking about more as your kids get older, but the reality is, it's a question that you probably have swimming in your head even when your kids are little because you're thinking -- well, how did they graduate from high school so that they can get into college? Which is the goal!

And I today I want to talk about the difference between the two, because it is a key difference that I didn't understand. And when I started to understand, I was able to better be able to formulate how we were going to navigate doing homeschooling through high school so my kids could still go to college.

So, here's the basic difference. A diploma is a piece of paper that is given from an institution that says you have done what is required to be considered graduated. It does not have any weight or anything special about it other than the fact that an institution gives it. And there's only a couple -- now, this video it may be different by the time you're watching this video -- but at the time of the making of this video, there's only a couple places that say you're required to have a diploma in order to be able to progress.

And the military used to have some rules about diplomas. In the state of Utah the highway patrol says the kid needs a diploma, but almost everyone doesn't talk about the diploma. You only think about that because that was the tangible piece of paper that you received at the end of your high school experience. But the reality is that any homeschool family can issue a diploma to their high school kids because they can say,  “Yes, you went through my homeschool. You graduated.” Print out a piece of paper that says you graduated from the Perkey Academy of Excellence, or whatever. Obviously, I'm the Perkey Academy of Excellence. Okay, our school would be called that possibly. Yours would be something else. But my point is I can give my kids a diploma. It's a piece of paper. 

It's the accredited transcript that's actually going to matter, because if you think about it -- most kids when they're applying to college don't have a diploma -- like, none of them do. because they're applying halfway through their senior year. and they haven't finished high school yet. So, they don't have a diploma. They don't. So, colleges can't ask for a diploma. They aren't going to ask for a diploma. What they're asking for when you apply for college is an accredited transcript. The transcript is a list of all the classes that a student has taken in their high school experience, and if your homeschooling, that may start at 14 when they enter 9th grade. Or it may actually start sooner depending on what you're doing with your kid's education. But it's a list of classes taken each year, and they're broken into subject, and they're given a credit amount.

Now, here's the thing that's really interesting. An accredited transcript is -- well, let me back up. Anyone can make a transcript. If you are a homeschool mom, you can make a transcript of what your kids have taken in their years of school with you. That is totally acceptable. But an accredited transcript is a transcript that is issued by an institution that's been accredited by one of several regional boards throughout the United States. And if you're watching this video outside the United States, I'm going to apologize. I actually don't know how it works in other parts of the world. This is a US-centric video. Sorry about that.

Okay, so back to our regular scheduled programming. If you want an accredited transcript, you have to take classes from an institution -- whether it's a school or an online source that has been accredited -- which means that this regional body has come to this school, they've looked at this schooling entity, and said, “Yes, what you do qualifies to go on this kind of transcript.” And they give them the stamp of approval and they say, “Yes, you can have accreditation.” And different high school students -- so, if you go to one high school for 4 years, you will have one transcript from one school and all the accredited credits -- say that three times fast. The accredited credits come from one place. However, if you have cobbled together an educational experience from lots of different resources, then the accredited transcript will actually have credits that come from lots of different sources.

So, when you're thinking about applying for college what the colleges want is this accredited transcript possibly. Not the diploma. So, you can take the diploma and put it off to the side except for some very specific situations. And you should just research wherever your kids going to go to college because that's going to tell you what you're shooting for.

So, the second piece of this that I think a lot of people don't know that I didn't know until I started doing the research several years ago for my oldest is that when a university is looking for applications, they have a really broad variety of rules about this accredited transcript. Some colleges say you can have an accredited transcript or a portfolio. You don't actually have to have any of those accredited grades if you can do a portfolio of work that shows the things you've been doing, and they all have different requirements about what those will look like, and they actually allow anybody to submit one or the other. It's not just homeschool kids. There are other places that say, “Well, we need an accredited transcript, but we only need 16 credits.”

Now, in Utah you must have 24 credits to get a diploma from your high school, but the college that my daughter is thinking about going to only requires 16 accredited credits -- which is roughly 2 years of high school credit. So, you could do part high school for 4 years and then go do other things and still have that accredited transcript. However, there are some schools that say, “You know what? If you don't have an accredited transcript, we'll just take your ACT or your SAT score and we'll just weigh that higher in the application process.”

So, your kid can actually go to school without an accredited transcript because you've done homeschooling experiences that aren't accredited but are still really valuable. They do well on the ACT and they're still going to be fine. Oh my goodness! There's so much angst around this diploma and this accredited transcript thing when I talk to people, and then I explain it and after I knew it like I was so worried about it but then after I learned it, I was like wait, we have options. We have a lot of options.

So, I hope this video has explained the difference between an accredited transcript and a diploma. If you have questions, put them down below wherever you're watching this video. I'll do my best to answer them. It's just one small piece. It moves you a little bit closer to understanding this whole getting into college thing but it's so, so, so important.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and I make these videos every week so that you can be a super successful and confident homeschool mom.

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Why your homeschooled kid doesn’t need a diploma
Why your homeschooled kid doesn’t need a diploma
Why your homeschooled kid doesn’t need a diploma
Homeschool high school doesn’t need diploma

About the Author ToriAnn Perkey

I'm ToriAnn Perkey. I've been homeschooling since 2004, when my oldest daughter was 3 1/2. I'm a mother, mentor, teacher, presenter, and musician. One of my favorite pastimes is learning about ... anything! Read more here.