Two of my teens will graduate from high school this year. They’ve both always been homeschooled and will graduate as homeschoolers. That means graduation and all of their high school records are up to me. The oldest will graduate this month. So, I’ve been busy getting ready.
Here’s what I’ve done so far:
1. Polish up the transcript.
A transcript isn’t required under Florida law, but it’s a document that a high school graduate should have. It might be needed for college entrance or by a company considering hiring the graduate. In fact, I was asked to produce a copy of my own high school transcript for an employer more than a decade after graduating from college even though I had a number of graduate school credits.
I’ve kept a transcript for my children as a working document since they first took high school courses such as Algebra 1. Even though done in middle school, any classes counted towards high school graduation are listed. I entered the grades just earned for the two courses finished through dual enrollment at Palm Beach State College as well as the grades earned for the final courses done at home.
I have now added a section called an “Affidavit of Completion” in which I certify that this is an accurate record of his high school years showing high school graduation from a home education program in accordance with Florida law (FL s. 1002.41) with space not only for me to sign but also for a notary public to sign and stamp. This will be the legal proof of high school graduation in accordance with Florida law.
I updated the number of credits earned and the GPA. Until this point, I had only listed an unweighted GPA, but I’ve seen that scholarships sometimes want a weighted GPA and per the Bright Futures program a variety of courses, including college courses, can add 0.5 grade points for each full credit and 0.25 grade points for each half credit. So I added a column for a weighted GPA.
PERT and SAT test scores are already listed. I’ve listed a key to show the courses that were taken elsewhere, whether through FLVS or Palm Beach State College. On the reverse side of the transcript, I’ve listed activities involved in, including volunteer work and clubs, with a designation for the grade levels to which they apply. I updated the awards section and the achievements section. I checked the formatting to make sure it’s consistent throughout with no spelling errors or other issues.
In my experience as someone who used to volunteer for my alma mater’s college admissions committee, there are lots of formats for transcripts. I didn’t worry about the format used since schools use so many different formats. But in my experience in helping other homeschool families, problems occur when the transcript includes weird course titles, misspellings, or inconsistencies that make the transcript seem off. Generally, transcripts are accepted at face value if they look professionally done.
2. Order a diploma.
Yes, as a parent running a home education program in accordance with Florida law, I have the right to issue a high school diploma. I planned to type one myself on my word processing program and print it on nicer heavier paper, but today’s word processing programs are so much more limited than the ones I used a decade or more ago–probably in an attempt to get people to pay extra for special programs if they want to use fancier fonts or curve the text. I could have made a no-frills diploma, but in the end, I decided to pay to make a nicer version. I looked at the options available on HSLDA’s website, but ended up using homeschooldiploma.com instead.
For both the diploma and transcript and other documents, I gave our homeschool a name. I wanted a simple name that won’t be embarrassing later. I went with our surname and the word “academy” though I’ve seen a lot of others use a street, neighborhood, or other geographic name as part of their homeschool name.
As the one who’s planned and organized their homeschooling as well as taught most of the classes, I gave myself the title “Program Director/Instructor” and my husband got the title “Administrator.”
The cost of a diploma can quickly skyrocket if you add on too many extras such as seals or having the holder embossed with your student’s name or your homeschool name. On the other hand, this is a place to splurge if you wish and make the diploma a work of art.
3. Order cap and gown.
A cap and gown doesn’t have to cost a lot. We have my husband’s college cap and gown. It could fit one of the kids, but the cap has been damaged. One doesn’t want a graduation ceremony and would be fine without a cap and gown, but the other wants to participate in the massive homeschool graduation ceremony held each May in Orlando. (I’ve seen over 300 students graduating in previous ceremonies.) So, we ordered a cap and gown. They don’t cost as much as I feared.
4. Senior photos.
We set up a senior photo shoot at a local photographers. The photographer has a cap and gown to use in the photos so if ours don’t arrive in time, I can still get some nice photos of them in cap and gown. One isn’t thrilled about having nice photos taken, but mom insists. She wants them and thinks he might change his mind in the future.
5. Polish up course descriptions.
I’ll write about these separately.
6. Plan a graduation party.
I’ve started plans. We’ll have a small party for the one who graduates this month. Whether he likes it or not. 🙂 We’ll invite other homeschool friends and have cake and present him with his diploma at the very least.
There are a few more loose ends to tie up. I’ll need to notify the school district that our graduate has finished. Sending in a Letter of Termination with a final evaluation will tie up those details. I’ll likely send his SAT scores as the final evaluation. Or I could send his college grade report. He has yearbooks that we printed through Shutterfly for his previous high school years. (We’ve done this with our homeschool support group. As long as at least ten people purchase a book, the yearbook program gives a substantial discount. Getting a few local businesses to put an ad in the book helps keep the cost down.) This year he’s been so busy with college classes, working out, a couple of classes at home, and getting ready for the military, that he hasn’t been involved with the homeschool support group much. I’ll likely put together a scrapbook of his own, still, so he can look back on these days later.
My oldest may not want a lot of pomp and circumstance, but I want to make sure he has everything he might need in the future, that I’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s, and that his future is off to a good start. I know I’ll have to send copies of the documentation to his Recruiter once his graduation is official. We’re almost to the finish line with this one.