Diploma Quest(ion)


by Barb Shelton






It's easy to get hung up on the whole issue of a high school diploma. The original purpose of a diploma was to document a specific program of study that has been completed at an educational institution.  And that's good.  But I also think it helps validate the homeschooling experience for the student...  and maybe even for mom?!?!?  :-)   It might be seen as "worldly," but I don't think that just because something is commonly done in the world, that automatically makes it "worldly."  I personally feel that a diploma is a simple and elegant way of recognizing and commending a child for a "job well done" in a tangible way that can be saved and looked at and enjoyed all through life.


In the "olden days" of homeschooling, we did not have the spiffy options for diplomas that we have available now!  We only had home-spun options that did not look nearly as glitzy as what was issued in the schools.  A few years into homeschooling, Jostens and other places came out with more spiffy looking diplomas, which were an improvement, but still not as snazzy as what you would get from a school.  Regarding this, I'd like to make a little digression...  to explain my "Inverted Value Theory."  Simply put, it suggests that the more "official" a diploma looks in the world's eyes, the less true value the diploma actually possesses. This would mean that a regular school diploma, the most widely accepted diploma (Who would ever question it?) has less genuine meaning in the scope of life and God's values than any other diploma. On the other hand, a diploma representing an education navigated by mom and dad would very likely rest in the hands of a student who is better prepared for living, learning and loving than 10 traditionally-schooled students put together. (I don't have the statistics, but just take your own poll.)


But that was then, and this is now...  NOW snazzy-looking diplomas abound and are easy to get, and not expensive, unless you really want to go all out.  I issued diplomas to all three of our kids, with the youngest, Carlianne, getting the most glitzy one ~ from!!!!  But they are all just as valid and meaningful, which I will now share my thoughts on...

If you're asking whether it means anything to an employer, the answer is "Most likely ~ as much as any other diploma."  Have you ever, even once, been asked to show your diploma for a job?  I haven't.  I've only had to give the name of my high school.  So if you come up with a good-sounding name for your homeschool, you're safe there. ("Rainbow Home School" probably wouldn't quite cut it.)  If you're asking whether a college, the armed services, or a financial aid board would consider it valid, the answer is "Maybe yes; maybe no."  If it doesn't mean what you want it to mean to the party you want it to mean something to (like the Dean of Admissions at a college), the student can always take a few classes or a year at a community college.  (Some or all of those college credits could even be taken during the high school years.) This automatically waives the need for a diploma. For example, when someone has taken Algebra II, they never ask if you've taken Algebra I; it's simply assumed that you know the material for the simpler if you have attained the more difficult.
If your student intends to enter the service, or another certain institution upon graduation, check into their requirements now, then work toward them ~ or work them into your program ~ through these years. 

Another suggestion is to even try to work around their requirements by seeing if you can work with one of their counselors to find "equivalencies" in meeting requirements. This is breaking new grounds, scary, but it has been done and needs to be done if homeschoolers are to forge ahead and (gently) take their rightful place in society. This is usually done one brick at a time at a grass-roots level where you find a lot of dirt, bugs, and rocky ground!

There are actually many options in this arena for those not wanting to connect with a curriculum program that awards them their own diploma. You can purchase an official looking diploma made up professionally. Several businesses offer such diplomas. (The cost range is wide; see end of article for info.)
But if that wasn't exactly what you meant by "Does your diploma mean anything?"  I do have more to say...  Keep in mind that the following is not an answer I would actually give someone who was honestly asking the question. It would contain elements of the following response, but the purpose of this answer is to give you some food for thought. My answer starts out in the form of a question...
Let me start by asking you: what does your diploma mean? How has it prepared you for the "real world" where offices never have 25 people all the same age, and work days are not divided by bells into six totally unrelated sectors? Has your diploma prepared you to be a loving, considerate husband or wife or a wise, nurturing dad or mom? (The most important roles you'll probably ever hold.)  Did what you learned in science reveal to you the awesomeness of God and give you more of a sense of His hand upon the making and history of the universe or are you even more convinced of the "Big Blast," evolution, or the "gene pool"? Did your diploma help you acquire wisdom and true knowledge ~ or mere head knowledge? Do you view all knowledge as being "truth" only as it aligns with the truth ~ His Truth?  Or has your "open-minded" training made you hesitant to make such a "biased" statement?  Does your diploma indicate you are closer to God? More confident in His love for you?  Better equipped you to accomplish the work God has "prepared beforehand" for you to walk in through life? ... Just thought I'd ask..."

I assure you that the diplomas we awarded our children didn't guarantee that their recipients had attained all these high ideals!  We can do all the planting we want; only God can do the growing. But our diplomas DO signify that we tried, that we went the direction we believed God was taking us, with His values as our "Student Learning Objectives," with His vision our vision. 

The diplomas we issued our children, then, are in alignment with our priorities and values rather than the secular government's.  They were neither state-issued nor state-approved. We are a totally private home-based school, not state-funded or even state-affiliated. 


As the world's values and morals continue to spiral (plummet) downward, the chasm between the values of Christians and those of the world is widening dramatically. God has an abundance of work for His people in these latter days and perilous times! I believe we need to be more concerned with preparing ourselves and our children for His work ~ and finding out what that is ~ than with obtaining a diploma that will open bigger doors to higher-paying careers or gaining entry into a more prestigious college. 
Do we want a "valid diploma" for the wrong reasons?  "Let us study (through these high school years) to show ourselves approved by God" ~ not man!  We may need to ask God for a spirit of doing all things well for the glory of God, in readiness for doing the will of God.  All God needs is a heart completely yielded to Him. 


A "good-education," defined accurately as being the result of yielding ourselves to being taught of God, will only enhance and equip us to that end.  Our values should never take preeminence over our call to serve and know God ~ or cause the fire of our love for Him to wane. 


The above article is excerpted and rewritten from the book Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la by Barbara Shelton. Here are three great resources that
offer a wide range of excellent graduation resources: - (Operated by a former homeschooling mom, this is my favorite option!!!  She has not only diplomas, and a wide variety of beautiful ones, but everything you could possibly need for a gala homeschool Graduation ~ including invitations, napkins in many colors, engraved if you want, tassels in many color schemes, name cards... etc.!  If you order from there, tell her "Barb Shelton sent you!!!" just so she'll know I'm still just as much in love with her and her products as I was when I ordered napkins, name cards, and diploma for Carlianne from her back in 2006!!!)
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association)




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