What does a diploma mean?
In general, a diploma is a certificate by which a person or organization certifies that the person named on the diploma has successfully completed a program of study. A high school diploma certifies that a student has successfully completed a program of secondary education.
Where do I get a diploma?
A blank diploma can be purchased from several organizations (including HSLDA) or possibly obtained via the internet (make sure copyright laws are not violated), but it is not valid until it is signed by the person who has verified that the student has finished the program that was set before him.
Can I make my own diploma?
Yes, but bear in mind a diploma that looks like it was prepared by an amateur may not make the desired impression. When creating a diploma, include at a minimum the following features: 1. State that it is a high school diploma. 2. State the name of the student. 3. Include wording that the student finished the program of secondary education that was required of him. 4. Enter the signature of the person who knows the student finished the program. 5. Add the date it was issued or signed.
Who must sign the diploma?
Because the diploma attests to the fact that the student finished his high school program, it should be signed by someone who exercised authority over the student’s high school program and who has verified that the student successfully completed the program. In the case of a homeschooled student, the parent is generally the appropriate person to sign. If a school is issuing the diploma, a school official will sign it.
Can a parent sign a diploma even if he did not personally teach all the classes?
Yes. For a homeschooled student, the parent signs the student’s high school program. Only the parent knows if the student truly accomplished what the parent required. Even if persons outside the family taught the student, the parent will still know if the student accomplished what was required in the class.
Can more than one person sign the diploma?
Yes. There may be several people equally qualified to sign the diploma—such as both parents, in the case of a homeschooler. Additionally, other persons can sign the diploma as witnesses to verify the fact that the diploma was issued, but this is not essential.
What should I write on the diploma?
Here is suggested wording for your consideration:
This certifies that John Smith has completed the course of study prescribed for graduation by his parents, Joseph and Mary Smith (or by Smith Home School)
In testimony whereof, this diploma is conferred, and we have subscribed our names on the third day of the month of June, in the year 2013.
The diploma can then be signed by the parents if desired or by one parent and perhaps the director of an oversight or umbrella group if the family was enrolled in one and if the group desires to sign.
Can I obtain a high school diploma without involving the local school district?
Yes. As indicated above, you can obtain a commercialized diploma and fill out the information regarding your school and student’s name.
Will the local public school issue a diploma for my student?
In all likelihood, no. Even if you homeschooled under the oversight of your local school district, you should not expect the public school to issue a diploma to your child.
Must the student comply with state or school district requirements in order to receive a diploma?
No.* It is up to each parent to decide what the student must do in order to receive a diploma. While each state has slightly different requirements for graduation for its public high schools, parents are not required to meet the same requirements that are imposed on public school students. For example, you may hear that 20 “credits” are required for graduation. While public schools may require students to complete 20 credits before being allowed to graduate, and may require that certain subjects be taken, homeschool parents are under no duty to imitate the public schools or adopt their standards.
*Note: The Pennsylvania homeschool law prescribes graduation requirements, but even though the student fulfills them, neither the school district nor the state will issue a diploma to the student. HSLDA encourages parents to issue the diploma and take the position that the state should recognize it, since the student has met the state-prescribed requirements.
Do I need to get the local public school’s approval before issuing a diploma?
No.* You, the parent, are the authority that issues the diploma.
Should I skip the diploma and have my student take the GED test instead?
A GED is a substitute for a diploma; it is not a diploma. A person can obtain a GED without ever having spent a day of his life in school. Many colleges and employers will treat a GED about the same as they would a diploma. However, if a student has a GED, some colleges and employers may assume the student did not have what it takes to finish high school. If your student successfully completed a program of secondary education, he deserves a diploma to prove it.
Should I also prepare a transcript?
Yes. You should prepare a formal statement listing each course your child took in grades 9 through 12, the amount of credit earned (as decided by the parent), and the letter grade or other evaluation earned (as decided by the parent). If a student may be headed for college, the transcript should be in a format designed to be quickly and easily understood by busy college admissions officials. Colleges vary in how many credits they want entering students to have in various subject areas.