Can Homeschoolers Gain College Admission Without an Accredited Diploma?
This is a common concern among homeschooling families. While the significance of an accredited diploma can be misunderstood, the ultimate goal is college admission. So, let’s shift our focus and explore more important aspects that determine success in higher education. (By the way, the answer is a resounding YES!)
What Exactly is an Accredited Diploma?
An accredited diploma is awarded by a school that has received recognition from an accrediting organization. It’s important to note that accrediting organizations are private entities without official authority over one another. Accreditation is voluntary, meaning some private and even public schools may not be accredited. The purpose of accreditation is to establish a standard of quality education, but the definition of “acceptable” can vary due to the different accrediting agencies.
Who Needs an Accredited High School Diploma?
More colleges are now placing less emphasis on the need for an accredited high school diploma. This shift can be attributed, in part, to the success of homeschool graduates who have surpassed expectations in college. Colleges and universities have realized that the type of diploma one holds has little correlation with potential for success in higher education.
In fact, many higher education institutions are adopting a portfolio-based admissions approach. While this is not the norm, it is wise to research the admissions requirements of colleges your homeschooler is interested in. Some colleges may require accreditation, but they often offer alternatives such as achieving minimum SAT or ACT scores.
For example, the University of Georgia (UGA) states the following for home educated students and graduates of non-accredited high school programs:
If a student cannot provide an official accredited transcript that verifies completion of the College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC), they must demonstrate exceptional academic ability by obtaining SAT or ACT scores equal to or above the average scores of first-year students admitted to UGA in the previous Fall term.
How Can a Homeschooler Obtain an Accredited Diploma?
So, while accredited diplomas may not be necessary for college admission, you might still prefer to have one. As a homeschooler, you are certainly able to obtain an accredited diploma if desired.
If you strongly favor an accredited diploma and want to pursue your high school education at home, you can consider enrolling in virtual schools. Virtual schools are charter public schools that offer tuition-free online education. However, not all states provide virtual schooling options, so it’s important to check if this is available in your state. Many virtual schools use well-known online learning programs such as Florida Virtual School, Connections Academy, or K12, which are accredited. It is important to note that attending a virtual school does not fall under the homeschooling regulations and guidelines of any state. Virtual school students are considered charter public school students and must adhere to the specific schedule and guidelines of their virtual school.
Parents and students should not assume that all accredited schools offer equal quality and opportunities. It is essential to thoroughly research the curriculum, faculty, student support services, tuition costs, and graduation rate of any school you are considering. Accreditation does not guarantee that a school will be the right fit for your student or your family.
What Other Options Exist Besides an Accredited Diploma?
High school graduates without an accredited diploma can achieve the same success as those with an accredited diploma. They can attend college, join the military, enter the workforce, and pursue their dreams!
Non-accredited diplomas from online or correspondence schools – Many homeschool curriculum providers offer diplomas, but not all have pursued accreditation. These providers offer distance education programs covering a full core, college-preparatory, or advanced placement curriculum. Diplomas are awarded to students who have met or exceeded graduation requirements. Examples of schools that offer unaccredited diplomas include The Angelicum Academy, Abbington Hill School, North Atlantic Regional High School, and Freedom Project Education.
Parent-issued diploma – Most homeschooling high schoolers follow a “hybrid” model, meaning they take coursework from various sources. They combine online courses, co-operative classes, textbook learning, dual enrollment at local colleges, and even volunteer work. In these cases, parents often oversee the creation of the student’s transcript and issue the diploma. The good news is that a parent-issued diploma is legally recognized in all 50 states and accepted by most colleges and universities.
GED – One in every seven Americans with a high school credential holds a GED test credential, including one in every 20 college students. Ninety-eight percent of US colleges and universities consider the GED credential equivalent to a high school diploma. The GED is a valid option for homeschoolers, but it is not the only test required for college admission. Most colleges also require acceptable scores on the SAT or ACT. Alternatively, you can complete some general college-level courses at a community college before applying to the college or university of your choice.
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