May 3, 2011

Who Should Issue the Diploma?

A member recently sent us statements from a homeschool organization’s newsletter that raised several questions in her mind about who should formally issue a homeschool student's diploma.

The St. Louis-based organization’s February 2 newsletter said:

“Don’t be caught unawares and unprotected! Last year a newly graduated panic-stricken homeschooler called [the organization] because the university to which she had applied would not accept her diploma because it was not through [the organization] .... They wanted verification from the [organization] leaders that she had indeed been a part of [the organization] and had graduated with [the organization]. Unfortunately, we could not validate either....”

The organization’s March 3 newsletter followed up with:

“[The organization] is proud to recognize students who have completed their studies through the issuance of a diploma. The presentation of a [organization] issued diploma provides students and parents with the confidence that their hard work will be recognized and relied upon by others.”

Based on our experience, the warnings in the newsletter excerpts are misplaced. With over 80,000 members nationwide, HSLDA has observed that diplomas issued and signed by parents are the norm in the homeschool community. They are accepted by employers, universities, and the military, virtually without exception.

Homeschool organizations are tremendously helpful in maintaining the vibrancy of the homeschool community. And it is a blessing when they offer graduation ceremonies that make a student’s journey past this momentous milepost in life memorable and joyful.

But with or without a ceremony, I recommend that the diploma itself be signed by the person who would be in the best position to give clear and credible testimony—in the unlikely event that it is ever needed—about the student’s education and what he did to earn the diploma. This will often be you, the parent. Or it could be the registrar of an online program or private school that was the backbone of your student’s education.

A diploma is not merely “recognition” that a student has finished a high school program—a nice graduation gift would do that! It is a solemn, good faith statement of fact—from a person in a position to know—that the student finished the required work.

An important component of your freedom to homeschool is the freedom to issue a diploma to your own student—a diploma that will take him wherever he wants to go. HSLDA works every day to protect this freedom!

Remember that if you are a member of HSLDA, you have access to help from seasoned full-time attorneys who work exclusively on homeschool legal and related issues, as well as veteran homeschool moms on our staff who provide specialized help on high school issues, slow learner issues, special needs issues, etc.

Your freedom is our calling!