Starting Homeschooling Your Senior Year

I’ve always attended public school, and this is my senior year of high school. Is homeschooling an option for me?

Homeschooling is always an option. The question is whether it is the right option for your particular situation.

Homeschooling offers a young adult many advantages. You are not bound by the school year or timetable. You can tailor your curriculum to meet your needs, your interests, and your schedule. You can take as many or as few courses as you choose, in whatever subjects you wish. You have far more scheduling flexibility than the typical high school student. Many homeschooled teens have combined their senior year studies with community college courses, paid work, community service, internships, or travel.

Homeschooling in Virginia is easy for any grade level, including 12th grade. The requirements are the same for every grade level. Your parents have to submit a notice of intent to the school division at the beginning of the school year (or whenever you withdraw from school), along with a description of the curriculum you will be following. At the end of the school year, you have to demonstrate evidence of progress through a standardized test or evaluation, and submit the results to the local school division.

So, what’s the catch?

Here it is: If you leave public school to homeschool during your senior year, you probably will not earn an official high school diploma.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, “school boards do not award diplomas to students who are not enrolled in public schools under their supervision.”

Some states issue “certificates of completion” to homeschool graduates. Virginia does not do this, nor are there plans for it to do so in the future.

If you leave public school and homeschool high school for a year or two, and then return, you may possibly receive some high school credit towards graduation for your homeschool work. (Every school division handles transfer credit somewhat differently, so how much credit you receive may vary.) However, this is not an option if you homeschool your senior year, because you are not returning to public school.

So, how can I earn an official high school diploma if I begin homeschooling my senior year?

You can earn an official high school diploma as a homeschooler by working through an accredited correspondence school program which grants high school diplomas. In most cases, you must enroll in the correspondence school program for at least a year before receiving your diploma.

Another option is to earn a General Equivalency Diploma (GED).

You can read more about these options and the possible pros and cons at High School Diploma Options for Homeschooled Teens in Virginia and Homeschoolers and the GED.

I heard that homeschoolers don’t need a high school diploma to get into college or get a good job…

Generally speaking, that is true. Most homeschooled teens go directly from homeschool to college or work without any official diploma whatsoever. However, your situation is somewhat different from that of a diploma-less teen who has homeschooled for his entire high school career. A diploma-less teen who suddenly switched from public school to homeschool during his senior year may come under a lot more scrutiny and face a lot more questions. In your case, a high school diploma may be worth the time and effort.

Even after reading this, I’m still interested in homeschooling for my senior year, and I still have questions. Who can I talk to?

You can get additional information on our Homeschooling Teens page. You may also contact The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers with your questions and concerns. We are happy to talk to you and help you explore your options. Best wishes with whatever you decide.


Books Especially Helpful for Homeschooling Teens

Guerrilla Learning: How to Give your Kids a Real Education with or without School
by Grace Llewellyn
Real Lives: Eleven teenagers who don’t go to school
by Grace Llewellyn

  • The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.


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