Can you believe the year 2020 is over? And, wow . . . what a year it’s been! Many pundits predict that that year will permanently shift culture, and as we look around, it’s easy to agree. Previously unthinkable scenarios are now commonplace within the global landscape, and terms like social distancing, self-quarantine, and Zoom fatigue have been added to our daily dialect.

Of course, one of the greatest seismic cultural shifts has been the temporary but prolonged closure of most traditional brick-and-mortar schools, forcing millions of families to do school at home—with many of them attempting homeschooling for the first time. This shift introduced additional terms, like de-schooling, pods, and pandemic schooling.

If you are new to homeschooling, the adjustments can feel like your family’s own personal cultural shift. But you might also be discovering a surprising phenomenon emerging: Perhaps you’re actually enjoying this new approach to life and education. Maybe you’re realizing how many more “aha” moments and richer relationships come from guiding your child’s education and sharing more life together. You might even be entertaining the idea that this could become the longterm plan for your family.

Yet, as you muse over a homeschooling lifestyle, you may also be wondering about the sustainability of this educational approach: Do homeschool students make it successfully through high school? Are homeschool high school transcripts accepted by colleges, the workforce, or the military? (Where in the world do homeschool families get those transcripts, anyway?)

Thankfully, many thousands of homeschool students, grads, and families have already paved the way. There are great answers to these questions—and we can help you find those answers.

You’re not alone!

The start of any new experience can feel clunky as you navigate the unfamiliar and the unknown. And while you may simply be focused on getting through one day at a time, we also want to support you as you consider homeschooling beyond this year. We want you to know homeschooling through high school can be done happily and successfully.

Here are some facts you may find encouraging.

  • Even before the total population of homeschoolers grew due to COVID-19, homeschooling was a part of the mainstream.
  • Homeschool transcripts and diplomas are legal in every state.
  • It’s now commonplace for homeschooled students and grads to be recognized and even pursued by most four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, trade or tech schools, apprenticeship programs, first-responder academies (medical tech, firefighter, police, etc.), and employers.
  • Homeschool transcripts and diplomas are widely recognized as equal to public school transcripts by the military, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and United States Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). (Yes! Equal!)
  • Homeschoolers regularly graduate from Ivy League schools and elite military academies.

Homeschoolers can even develop competitive advantages over traditionally educated students. How? Many colleges and employers are looking for distinctive passion, drive, and accomplishments beyond what can be shown in traditional transcripts. And that’s good news for you: homeschooling can open doors that a traditional education doesn’t leave time to knock on.

Homeschooling’s flexible schedule unlocks previously unavailable opportunities for your teen to pursue their interests and polish their skills through volunteering, hobbies, sports, internships, entrepreneurship, on-the-job training, community involvement, and so much more!

Transcripts? No problem!

Some parents are wondering about the validity of homeschool high school diplomas. Can they really create a transcript and diploma that would be accepted by schools and employers nationwide?

Tens of thousands of homeschool graduates over the years have demonstrated the effectiveness of a personalized education. Students who complete a parent-designed homeschool high school program (within the guidelines of their state’s homeschool laws) are eligible for a homeschool diploma.

So where do you get a transcript or diploma?

More good news here. As a parent, you can definitely plan and create the transcript yourself. Since it is so important for your child’s future, we encourage you to start thinking when your student is in junior high about planning their four-year high school journey and start learning about how to keep an as-you-go transcript.

If you’re just beginning homeschooling in the middle of high school, don’t worry—just jump in where you are and give HSLDA’s high school consultants a call. Wherever you are in your homeschool journey, we’d love to help you! (You can connect with us here.)

And you can leverage HSLDA’s abundant online tips and tools in your high school homeschool:

  • Map out your teen’s four-year plan and explore several sample plans here.
  • HSLDA’s Transcript Service gives you a place to store your student’s courses and grades, calculates GPAs, and guides you through the process of printing a lovely professional-quality transcript for your student. (Grab your member ID to get your member discount and head on over to this link.)
  • What about a diploma and graduation gown? From a blank diploma and case to graduation caps and gowns, you can personalize your student’s graduation with several options on our website.
  • Access 24/7 encouraging guidance for your entire high school journey. Discover step-by-step help from start-up through college, military, and employment here.

Getting there, together!

Years from now, we will all be reflecting back on the seismic cultural shifts of the year 2020. Hopefully social distancing, quarantine, and Zoom fatigue will be things of the past. But other shifts will have a positive, more permanent impact on culture and families.

And perhaps, looking back, your family will be able to say, “Yeah. That was the year we started homeschooling, and we are so glad we did.”

Diploma vs. GED, HiSET, or TASC: Does it Matter?

Speaking of high school diplomas, we want to share an important caution: HSLDA does not recommend that homeschool students take the GED, HiSET, or TASC High School Equivalency test (every state determines which exam is used) as a replacement for a high school transcript.

Understandably, this surprises a lot of people. Here’s the reason: these tests are designed for people who can’t, or don’t, complete high school and don’t have access to an equivalent of a high school transcript of diploma. So if a high school diploma is requested on a job or other type of application, your child will have nothing to offer. Therefore, these tests can carry a negative, and unnecessary, long-term stigma. If a school or employer demands a GED from your homeschool grad, please contact our legal team as soon as possible.

There can be many good reasons kids struggle to get through high school, but homeschoolers can create practical alternatives. If your child is in this situation and you’re an HSLDA member, please reach out to our High School Educational Consultants, and we can help you come up with workable solutions.