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Homeschooling High School: What About a Diploma?

One thing Chuck and I knew for certain when we started out homeschooling fifteen or so years ago, was we wanted our children to have high school diplomas. Real diplomas, not something I printed out myself and put in a scrapbook. As our oldest turned ten, then eleven, then twelve, this was something I worried about quite a bit. How would I go about getting a high school diploma for my homeschooled child? A diploma that would be recognized where ever she went? I talked to homeschooling moms with kids older than mine. There were ways to track classes, take tests, join organizations… It was daunting and overwhelming.

Homeschooling High School: What about a diploma? What if my child wants to attend university?

Earning a Diploma Through Running Start: Duel Enrollment

Then along came Running Start.

Running Start is a program in our state that allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college classes and earn college credit at our local community college. Homeschool students who do this are also able to earn a high school diploma at the same time. It almost seemed too good to be true. But it wasn’t.

Iris did this first. She started at age 16 and took extra classes so she could graduate a quarter early. She turned 18 in February and graduated with both a high school diploma and Associate of Arts degree the next month.

Judah attended Running Start for two years and graduated at 17 with a high school diploma and transfer degree. He was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and graduated with honors. He has just finished his first year at a Central Washington University, but his third year of college. He will graduate next year (at the age of 19) with a Bachelor’s degree.

Taking two years of college in high school saved us thousands of dollars!

Homeschooling High School: What about a high school diploma?

Tilly just graduated from Running Start this last week. At age 17 she has earned both her high school diploma and her Associate of Arts degree. She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa and graduated with honors. She will not be heading to university in the fall but has a few plans up her sleeve which I will share later…

So there you have it. My homeschooled high schoolers were all able to earn high school diplomas and college degrees at the same time.  Some will go on to university, others straight to work. Or maybe take a gap year…or maybe get married and run off to New Zealand.

Homeschooling High School: What about transcripts?

I was able to create a transcript for my kids. I included the classes they homeschooled as well as ones they took at community college. By the end of high school my kids have all had more than enough credits to graduate. In the end, their high school diplomas came from the community college. We used these transcripts for Judah’s university applications.

What about going on to a four-year university?

Judah was accepted to Central Washington University and earned several scholarships based on his academic achievement, volunteer work and involvement in the community college. Not only that, he was accepted into Central’s Douglas Honors College which gives him partial tuition waivers and special housing.

Updated 6/25/16: I just found this great article: 5 Surprising Ways Homeschooling Prepared Me For College.

Do you have any questions about homeschooling high school? I’d be happy to answer in the comments.



  1. Julie

    Hurray, hurray, hurray! We’re just a bit behind you, but – like you – I was THRILLED to realize my boys can get “official” HS diplomas through Running Start. My oldest needs one more quarter. (Not everyone finishes in two years, and that’s fine :D) The next one starts Running Start this fall, with another brother on his heels two years later.

    It’s so encouraging to watch families like yours, that are running the race a bit ahead of us, and to see your kids doing so well 😀

    Thanks for sharing, Renee!

    • Renee

      Yes, taking more than two years is fine, though it gets more expensive once they are no longer in 11th or 12th grade. But we have told our kids either way they are still ahead!

  2. Kristal

    While our state has a program like that they allow students in first that are in a public school, then private, and then homeschoolers. So often there are no spots left. It is quite frustrating. I graduated our first this year, but he is going right into the Fire Academy so college was not on his list. I am satisfied that he will do fine with just our “homeschool” diploma and transcript of classes.

    • Renee

      That’s too bad about not all homeschoolers getting in! Yes, an official diploma isn’t for everyone or the only option. Plenty of homeschoolers have gotten into university with no diploma, just transcripts and test scores.

  3. Joanne Rawson

    Our state has nothing like that; I keep asking about high school diplomas with the other homeschooling families I know and they often tell me to just print one myself but I worry that they will need more than that with future employers and colleges.

    • Renee

      I understand that concern. Read Marsha’s comment below, though. I think you’ll find it encouraging. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever had to *show* my diploma to anyone…just say that I had one or click the box.

  4. Marsha

    All of my home educated kids used the diploma and transcript our homeschool generated to easily go to excellent universities. Never an issue with being accepted everywhere they applied. I have 7 adult children- the oldest is 30. All graduated early too. Some chose private and some public. My experience is the bias of a homeschool diploma ended many years ago.

    • Renee

      Yes, I have seen this happen many times (university acceptance with a home made diploma). The diploma was important to *me*. Partly to feel like I have finished the job and partly to show nay-saying relatives my kids’ education is completely legit 🙂 And with Running Start you can come out with an AA degree, but no high school diploma. For us, the diploma was important.

  5. bemis

    I was homeschooled, and we went through Clonlara Home Based Education Program (HBEP) because my mom wanted us to have real diplomas. Clonlara is an accredited school, so they have certain requirements (no strict at all) and they also require good records of classes taken, hours, books read, etc. while in high school. I had no problem getting into a private four-year college with this. We also took the ACT as well as our state test at the local public school (my parents had a good relationship with local school leaders) as juniors/seniors in high school. Testing proficient/advanced on the state test gave scholarship money for in-state colleges and universities. It’s worth checking on those options as well. We didn’t have any trouble on either even though we had rarely taken tests and were certainly not “taught” the test.

    • Renee

      Thanks for sharing. Clonlara was something I looked into when my kids were younger. My kids weren’t taught to test either, but have done just fine…crazy how that worked out.

  6. EV

    In SC, we didn’t have that option, although I believe it is coming. We chose to enroll them in our state’s online public school. We had previously spoken with them and found out the boys could take classes at our community college for credit. So, at 14 and 15 they began 10th grade by starting classes not online but in the community college. One of the benefits is that college classes count as AP high school classes. The boys were graduated at 16 and 17 with awards and honors from high school.

    The other huge advantage was that the boys didn’t have to take the ACT or SAT tests because they had enough college credits to be exempt.

    The 17 year-old began the American College of the Building Arts for his BA with an emphasis in timber framing his senior year. The 16 year-old received a full scholarship to College of Charleston which he turned down much to our dismay. He is heading to Hereford, England to university.

  7. Tasha

    This was an encouraging share. I also appreciated all of the comments. Our oldest homeschooler is in 7th grade, so this is great food for thought.

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