Welcome back! Today, let’s take a look at homeschooling high school, diplomas, and transcripts-shall we?
After many homeschoolers get over their initial trepidation about homeschooling, they seem to find a good groove for a while until they start thinking about high school. When a homeschool mom realizes that high school is around the corner, a lot of those old fears and worries can come flooding back.
I WAS THERE! I KNOW!
Don’t worry–I’m here to tell you that a lot of those fears are unfounded, and it’s not as hard as you think it will be. It’s definitely something to plan and prepare for, but it doesn’t have to be scary at all.
P.S. If you haven’t read Day 1 about Laws and Requirements yet, you might want to do that first. In it, I’ve explained the few requirements and the state’s position on homeschooling, which is where we’ll pick up today.
5 Days of Homeschooling in Texas
High School, Diplomas, and Transcripts – OH MY!
Okay, I want to keep this as simple as possible. I definitely don’t want to over-complicate it. So let’s just take this one piece at a time, and if you have any additional questions, you can leave them at the end. Deal?
Homeschooling High School and Planning the Courses
Do you remember how I said that Texas considers homeschools a form of private schooling? And private schools are free to determine their own requirements and courses? Well guess what? That still applies during high school!
Somehow I hadn’t FULLY grasped the FULLNESS of what that means for us. I knew it in my head, and I knew that while I was using the TEA’s outline for a high school diploma as our goal I didn’t have to follow it exactly, but I hadn’t really, fully, embraced our freedom as a private school.
What I mean is that I worried and allowed myself to fret about whether or not my 17 year old’s transcript was going to be complete enough, acceptable enough, and “right” enough. For example: the biggest TEA diploma plan calls for three foreign language credits “of the same language.” Catie has taken Dual Credit Spanish 1 and 2 through our local community college, but has no desire to take Spanish 3. She very much wants to take American Sign Language. After fretting about whether “that counts” as the third language course, I remembered and realized that *I* am the one who decides what “counts.”
We have to use real curriculum, but we get to decide:
- What classes make up their high school diploma (how many maths, sciences, etc.)
- WHICH classes count for which credits (chemistry, botany, or marine biology?)
- How many credits they need to graduate.
Bearing in mind that:
- We still have to gauge how many credits a curriculum is actually worth (basically a whole year = 1, a half year = half credit.)
- Colleges will want to see a full, complete, and rounded transcript.
Using the state’s guidelines isn’t a bad place to start, but it doesn’t have to match exactly, and you can tailor each education to each child.
Creating a High School Transcript
After deciding what classes your kids are going to take for all of high school–okay, just kidding…you’re likely going to make changes to that as you go–the next thing to “worry” about is the transcript.
Really, though, creating a transcript isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. There are many free, online, easy-to-use transcript creators.
The benefit of using a free transcript generator, obviously, is creating a nice-looking transcript in minutes with no cost. The downside of using a free online generator is that you can’t save your work as you go. And take my word for it that it will be easier to keep track of credits for each semester or year as you go. To fix this problem, you can either keep a list on paper or on the computer until the end and then generate a transcript all at once, OR, you can create your own transcript from the ground up.
In Texas, you create your own transcript, the same as a private school would. To see what info you need to include, compare a few of the free ones and then draw up your own unique version. (Side note: I’m also in the process of making my own fillable transcript form that I can make available as a download to my readers. Stay tuned!)
But what makes the transcript “official?”
Again: You do! That said, however, you can (and probably should) also get the transcript notarized. Many colleges will like to see the transcript notarized, so just go ahead and do it. And it should go without saying that it’s all on the honor system – so be honorable about it, yes?
In our experience so far, we haven’t had anyone at the local junior college challenge the validity of our homeschool transcript, or my authority as the head of our “school.” In fact, we’ve been blessed to deal with nice and helpful people at every turn. One advisor didn’t even bat an eyelash when we signed up for a sophomore course, and when I asked if Catie would be allowed to take it, she replied with a smile “She can because you’re the teacher and YOU say she can.” I have heard that occasionally you may run up against a person who is reluctant to accept your home-printed transcript, but they don’t have grounds for it. Our transcripts are perfectly legal and legit.
And now there is only one question left:
How does my child get a high school diploma?
How to Make a Homeschool High School Diploma
Yes, you read that right. There is no magic trick to getting a high school diploma. The diploma is awarded by the school–and that’s you!
Some parents may choose to have their children take the GED so they have “official” certificates for their education. But as more homeschool graduates are entering the college arena, and subsequently the workforce, this is becoming usually unnecessary.
So how DOES one create a diploma?
Again, there are online generators to help you with this. You can also design your own, just make sure you include the following information:
- Name of your school
- City and state in which the diploma is being issued
- Date the diploma is being issued
- Student’s name
- Wording stating the individual is being granted a diploma upon completion of a high school education
- Name and signature of the person issuing the diploma
It doesn’t even have to be pretty – but it should be. 😉 You have a lot to be proud of!
All that’s left to do is award your child his or her diploma at some sort of ceremony, large or small, with family or friends. Congratulations! You have a homeschool graduate.
And that’s it. It’s simple enough, right? We can do this!
Embrace Your Freedom
One last thing: don’t let yourself fret like I did! Embrace your freedom. Yes, it’s a big responsibility but it’s also liberating.
Don’t let others get you down, either. People are often appalled when they learn how little oversight there is in Texas (usually non-homeschoolers.) Don’t let yourself feel like you have to singlehandedly defend the whole of the Texas homeschool movement. I’m guilty of immediately going on the defensive, trying to justify it. Only recently have I learned to confidently smile and say “yes, that’s right.” Don’t take on the fears and worries of others! We have plenty of our own to deal with.
If you have any questions about homeschooling in Texas, high school, transcripts, or diplomas, leave them in the comments and I’ll answer!
To see what everybody else is writing about, just HOP over to this page and then hopscotch your way around the topics as you please. Happy hopping!
Looking for part three? Read “Texas Homeschooling: Field Trips in Texas.”