Friday, September 6, 2013

Decision- Diploma or not diploma

Stephanie of Salt Lake asks: "I'm sorry to bother you, I saw your post in homeschooling and was hoping I could ask you a question. I've done homeschooling on and off over the years and thought my only option was doing one of the online schools through Utah which is what I've done. My oldest however is really resisting. He currently does BYU IS. He's really smart but hates that he has to do the subjects that he already feels he knows. His philosophy is that he just take college courses that interest him and test out of subjects he already knows. Is this even possible? Here is my question. Do homeschoolers have to get a High School Diploma to get admitted in to college or is there another way if he already has college credits? I need to figure something else out because he's  becoming depressed, angry, and frustrated over this lack of control with what he's learning/not learning. Any advise/help would be greatly appreciated."

Stephanie,  It is never a bother to try and help someone. I will do my best from what I understand so far.  I understand your son's point of view.  Sometimes I feel the exact same way.  There is a lot of fluff and not enough meat to get where you really want to go.  And worse yet so many obstacles to really get where it matters most even when money isn't part of the equation.  I really hate redundancy.

Your question is two fold: Do you need a diploma to go to college?  And second can you test out of certain classes and do only what you are interested in for a diploma?  

First, Yes, absolutely, you can go to college without a diploma. It is definitely possible.  Many kids do and do a great job of it!  Some reasons most people choose to finish the diploma is because of the availability of scholarships to get started, avoiding the front lines should there be a draft for war or desire to enlist,  the opportunity to celebrate their work, the ability to get certain jobs, the lack of funding and the ease of getting federal grants and student loans the first year.  For others it is the social activities, sports, the lack of understanding they can have more control in developing their path for the future and well, some just don't care. They would rather go with the flow, it is just easier that way.  Although, at times I understand the last list, I won't discuss them.

Scholarships: The availability of scholarships is broader with a diploma but it doesn't mean there isn't any scholarships for those without diplomas. The first questions are: Where would you like to go to school? and What would you like to do to earn a living and support yourself when you are on your own?  With that information begin your research and make a game plan. Contact the admissions office directly and speak as high up as possible since usually it is just students who answer the phones.  Go to the people who make the decisions. Those who are proactive have less to worry about and do fine with or without the diploma.

BYU has scholarships for those who do not get a diploma and have less than 15 credits.  They weigh heavily upon the ACT score, essays and experience.  (For example, If you are going into Arts..... the number of leads and types of performances.  Main stage weighs heavier than a small community theater.  If technology.... what classes have you taken and what languages are you proficient in?  And don't forget to have taken two foreign language courses in sequence.)  I can't speak strongly enough about the need for a GREAT ACT score.  That is 32+.  If I remember right, only 34+ got 1/2 tuition academic scholarships.  Nice thing about BYU is that if you prove yourself the first year, with a certain GPA 3.9 or so you can get scholarships to pay for the tuition.  Keep it going and you could get most of your tuition covered at least. Nice but remember things change yearly.  That is why it is so important to know what you want to do.  (

Now BYU Idaho I believe still requires the GED or compass test.  Although BYU Provo does not.  Thus the importance of knowing what school you would like to attend and the requirements needed.

Remember where you go to school is nice, but what the school offers so you can advance in your career and ability to provide for your family is the key- a vital key.  BYU's master's department is not where you go to medical school.  Kinda a stupid example, but I hope it is obvious that you should choose a school by what it provides and how much you can afford.  If BYU doesn't provide excellent education in technology but UVU and University of Utah do.  Choose from what you can afford and go there.  University of Utah's robotics program is the best.   University of Utah collaborates with Apple.  BYU at this time does not.  University of Utah has great technology camps for kids who are interested in technology to prepare them.  BYU does not. BYU does have a great theater department and fantastic MBA program.

Military: The diploma effects military status upon entry.  Your rank will be determined highly by the accomplishments and educational status which in turn effects your pay rate.  Those without diplomas are all treated the same regardless if you are a dropout or a homeschooler.  The lower the rank the closer to the front lines in war and the dirty work.  It is just a fact. The great difference between a dropout and a home schooler is that the homeschooler has the skills and determination to get themselves up the ranks quickly.  Also, the military now recognizes a home produced transcript showing completion/graduation. So if you have completed any program make sure they know about it. 

Celebrations: Some kids have the need to celebrate.  They want to be recognized for their hard work. And to be honest some parents also feel the need to have their kids walk through a ceremony to feel some sense of closure and success. Thus the need to participate in a graduation ceremony. For us, this can be costly, a lot of pomp and not really necessary but can be a moment of fun and celebration.  And just that- a moment.

Jobs: It was said in the past that most jobs required a high school diploma.  There a few places where on the application they ask specifically if you received a high school diploma, GED or dropout.  I think the last one I heard about was the police academy. Most employers look over those who do not have the diplomas unless they are seasonal or temporary jobs.  They usually work top down with the more experience and college experience at the top. Department of Labor found that high school diploma holders earned a average of $554 a week compared with $396 a week for those who did not have a diploma. But things are changing depending upon what field you talk about.  The technology field is growing so rapidly that is it more about the portfolio/experience verses the piece of paper that states you are qualified.  And some colleges are leaning that direction also. Example, Apple was doing some hiring for their support department and there were many with plenty of Microsoft and computer experience but could not hack the final testing because they knew absolutely nothing Apple and couldn't learn it fast enough to be able to provide Apple Support.  Thus no job. But people who knew the stuff with no degrees are doing quite well.  

Finances: The first year going to school can cost quite a bit even if you live at home, especially if you have not saved or don't have money gifted to you.  I often tell my kids you can pay for college by working your behind off earning good grades, working your behind off while having to go to school and work at the same time or hanging a noose over your head by taking out lots of debt. The much easier route is getting good grades.  Choose which route you want to go.  The first year of college can be a shock for some. Costs do add up.  In the past, some of the federal applications for money require a diploma to get funding.  After the second year of living on their own it is much easier to apply for grants or certain scholarships after filling out the FAFSA.  But the first year can be the pits for some college students.  Some consider it a slap in the face. The diploma can save you some headaches or lessen the blow, when it comes to getting funding that year.

Second, you ask can he test out of certain classes required for the high school diploma?  I understand somewhere in Salt Lake County they do have a test out program.  $85 dollars per credit or something like that.  I will do some homework and find out where.   But currently there is no way to test out of the current common core math SSM1-3.  The first test, SSM1 will be available come February 2014, the USOE hopes. It was supposed to be ready the beginning of this year.  Nevertheless,  testing out has some consequences such as removing your eligibility for the state's regents scholarship.  

So the joy of homeschooling is creating something that meets the students needs and goals.  After reviewing this additional information, a good question may be - What Does YOUR student need? What would they like to do?  Where would they like to go to school? There are more than just courses or course content that affect a student's decisions.  The parameters are much wider than just completing a check off list of coursework. This is an exciting time to homeschool and show your child that you are their champion and want them to succeed.  

I hope this helps.  If you need further guidance,  I will do my best to help.


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