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Homeschooling Teens:
Diplomas and College

Isabel Shaw  

High School Diploma


Do homeschoolers need a high school diploma? Sometimes. Do they need a diploma from an accredited school? According to Cafi Cohen, "The experience of thousands of families indicates that the answer is 'almost never.'"

Cohen elaborates: "Every homeschooler can have a document verifying graduation from high school because – as the principals and administrators of small private schools – all homeschool parents can create their own diplomas." Are these diplomas recognized? "College admissions officers rely primarily on transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Most never ask about diplomas because typical applicants, high-school seniors, do not yet have them."

What about job applications? Cohen advises parents: "Employers care mostly about experience. By granting your own diploma, your teenager can answer "yes" to the diploma question on most job applications. And, interestingly, employers never seem to phrase the question this way: 'Do you have a diploma from an accredited high school?'"

The only exception may be the military. If you know your son or daughter plans to enlist in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force, consider using an accredited diploma-granting independent-study program like Clonlara School or American School (1-800-228-5600). Check with your local recruiter about current regulations for homeschool students.

GED High School Equivalency Diploma


The initials GED stand for General Education Development. The GED test measures how well someone has mastered the skills and general knowledge that are acquired in a four-year high school education. GED online is a special website dedicated to helping students prepare online for the GED High School Equivalency Test. For homeschool students desiring a formal diploma, the GED is another option.

College-Bound Homeschoolers


If you're looking for a comprehensive guide covering just about every known approach to earning a college degree, Bears' Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally by John and Mariah Bear is for you. Read this book early - before you make your teen's college plans – it may change the way you homeschool!

Homeschoolers are accepted and welcomed at most colleges. Admissions policies vary, so plan ahead to meet the requirements of colleges that interest you. Generally speaking, testing requirements (ACT/SAT I & SAT II) are the same for homeschoolers and schooled kids. Click here for detailed information on admissions testing.

Most parents of teens who learn at home are motivated, resourceful, and determined to provide the best educational resources for their kids. When I ask parents of older homeschooled kids what they would change if they could do it over again, their replies are often the same: I would worry less, and enjoy my kids more. Sounds like good advice to me.

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