How to: Graduate Your Homeschool Child (in Texas), Part 1



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How to Graduate Your Homeschool Child in Texas Part One - a how to guide for graduating homeschool students in the state of Texas.

How to Graduate Your Homeschool Child

We now have a high school graduate!

As I mentioned in my last post, we graduated our oldest  in December, and it was quite the adventure! We had asked around and researched the benefits/drawbacks of graduating in December vs. May, and whether or not you should consider doing that is topic for another post. 😉

In the end, we figured out all the details and we finished that race on December 16th with a wonderful graduation celebration full of friends and family.

So now that the air has cleared, post-graduation and post-holidays, let’s talk about that shall we?

How do you graduate your homeschool child in Texas?

How to Graduate Your Homeschool Child (in Texas)

Today I want to focus on the particulars and the details of graduating your high school senior. We can talk about the details of planning a graduation ceremony next time.

#1 – There are NO Requirements

If you’ve read through the 5 Days of Homeschooling in Texas series, you know we’ve already covered that the state of Texas doesn’t require any forms to be filed for homeschooling. The same goes for graduation.

When you, as the administrator of your private school, determine that the student has completed the coursework that you’ve laid out before them for their high school degree, your student is finished. They are done. Graduated. All that is left is to fill in the final transcript and print off a diploma – it’s just that simple.

What we learned during our process of graduating and applying for college simultaneously, beginning the process before she was done and waiting for her final transcript to complete the application process, is that the “graduation date” is the last day of class (not the date the transcript is completed or the date of the ceremony.)

This means to me that once your student is finished, they are graduated, even if you never have a ceremony or type up a transcript. The state of being graduated is dependent solely upon the act of being finished with the work. There are no forms and no magic words that make it true, because it’s already true. Isn’t that kind of liberating?

I really want you to get that in your head. “How” you graduate your child is easy. Finish the work. Done. How to “SHOW” that your child is done is the next step. And it’s also easy.

#2 – Create the Final Transcript

Even though your child is officially graduated once his work is finished, there’s still a little bit of work left on the to do list for you.

Finalizing the high school transcript is your next step. You don’t need to file it with the state, but you need to make one and file it away in your own records. You’ll need one when your child applies to a college or trade school. Even if they want to take a gap year and you don’t need one right away, it will be easier to get this done while it’s fresh in your brain.

As I mentioned in “High School, Diplomas, and Transcripts, Oh My!” there are a number of different free online transcript generators that you can use. You can also make your own or use the one that I made, (check out Online Resources and Help for Homeschooling.)

The main work of creating the transcript is simply a process of gathering and recording information from the past four years all in one place. Course titles, grades, etc. The transcript also needs to have the student’s name, address, social security number, school name, and graduation date (last day of class.)

A few transcript tips:

  • Print at least two copies. In addition to printing a copy for the college, print a copy for yourself to keep, and back up your transcript online or an external hard drive in case something happens to your print copy.
  • Colleges do want the transcript notarized. Most of the online transcript generators do not include a designated space for the notary, so choose one that does or which has a good white space for the notary to use. Sign and date the transcript in front of the notary to make the transcript official for college use.
  • The community college had a notary on staff that notarized our transcript for free, and she even notarized the second copy for my files, so check with your college if you need a notary.

#3 – Print the Diploma

Your final step (for paperwork that is,) is printing that diploma. Graduation feels awfully official when you’ve finally handed that signed certificate over to your child!

There are tons of diploma generators online but in the end printed ours from Canva.com. They have a large selection of free diploma styles and you can edit any of the the text on the diploma. It wasn’t difficult to find a style that my daughter would like.

If you’re like me, you won’t be satisfied with the standard text and you’ll want to change it. Go ahead, change it! Seems to me that if we’ve spent our whole educational experience tailoring and adapting for our homeschool, we shouldn’t stop now. First, I removed the titles under the signature lines (principal, etc,) and simply typed mine and my husband’s names. Second, I altered the main body of the text to say, “has satisfactorily completed her high school requirements in agreement with the guidelines for homeschool study given by the state of Texas and is therefor awarded this high school diploma.”

After printing the diploma on card stock with our color printer, we had a very nice diploma to hand to our daughter at her graduation ceremony.

#4 – Add finishing touches

Only one more “to do” left on your list, and those are the finishing touches. And which finishing touches you choose are completely up to you!

My daughter wasn’t interested in a class ring, but you can buy those online if it’s something you’re interested in. You can also design and buy a letter jacket online, but we weren’t interested in that, either. If you do want a jacket or a ring, you’ll probably want to get those early in the senior year anyway. But the finishing touches we did choose–a nice presentation folder for the diploma and a black 2017 tassel–are items that we don’t need until the graduation ceremony.

The diploma folder is kind of a no-brainer, and I’ll go as far as saying I think you need one. 😉 It not only protects the diploma but it looks very nice for the graduation ceremony and in the pictures. If you’re like me and you’ve never looked at your high school diploma again after receiving it, you may hesitate to spend the money on it at all. I opted for an inexpensive but very attractive diploma folder because while the diploma may very well end up in a keepsake box, the diploma itself represents a very huge success and milestone for you and your homeschooler. It deserves to look nice. Don’t let all the to-do’s and details distract you from the fact that you and your child are celebrating a major success!

The 2017 tassel was a fun little detail that I surprised my daughter with, and not very expensive at all. We hadn’t talked about getting one but I knew that I was going to and that she would like it. She didn’t have a cap and gown at her graduation, but she got the keepsake tassel and she did love that.

And that’s how you graduate your homeschool child.

With the completion the transcript, the diploma, and the choosing/ordering the necessary finishing touches, you’re ready for the graduation ceremony. But the ceremony itself is a whole different conversation–there are so many options. So how do you plan a graduation ceremony? We’ll tackle that side of graduation in Part 2. Stay tuned for “How to Graduate Your Homeschool Child (The Ceremony.)”

Have questions? Leave them in the comments! I’ll do my best to help you navigate this not-so-scary step in homeschooling.

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