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
they are all just as valid and meaningful, which I will now share my thoughts
IS YOUR DIPLOMA MEANINGFUL?
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!
SEVERAL OPTIONS FOR DIPLOMAS
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.)
SO BACK TO THE QUESTION
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
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..."
BACK TO REALITY
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
and values rather than the secular government's. They were neither state-issued
state-approved. We are a totally private home-based school, not state-funded or even state-affiliated.
What it comes down to for me is
I DO NOT CARE ABOUT OR AGREE WITH THE STATE'S VALUES; WHY WOULD I SEEK OR WANT
THEIR "STAMP OF APPROVAL" ON WHAT WE DID?
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)
notify me if any
of the above info is outdated!)