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Thursday, May 7, 2009

What I Wish I Had Been Told

I've been homeschooling since my oldest son was in 1st grade. I am graduating him next month. For years people thought it was a phase I'd outgrow and many more questioned the validity of our schooling. I got all the usual questions; What about college? What if he wants to enter the military? What about a diploma? I always answered those questions with what I had been led to believe by all the so-called "experts" out there. My homeschool diploma is just as valid as any other diploma, and many big named colleges and the military actually actively seek out homeschoolers.

Now, twelve years later I am feeling a bit let down and disappointed and perhaps even misled. My son has spoken of nothing else for the past ten years or so other than joining the military. Sure, his branch or MOS has changed a time or two, but there was never any doubt that he would in fact join.

I do know of several homeschoolers who have gotten into the military so I never had any reason to believe we would have any issues. Well, yesterday we had the shock of our lives when the Coast Guard recruiter told my son due to the fact that he is privately homeschooled, he cannot enlist unless he obtains 15 college credits. Not only that, but they wont even speak to him any further until he has those!

Now, getting those credits isn't a big deal in the long scheme of things. My son is quite bright and I am sure he would do fine in college, but that's not the point. What I am fuming mad over is I know many high school graduates with a "real" diploma that can barely score well enough to even enter the military, yet my son scores well enough to not only qualify for enlistment, but to qualify for most any job he is interested in, yet because his diploma is from a private homeschool, non-accredited, he has to jump through extra hoops that others with a "real" diploma don't, even though his level of education is not only equivalent to theirs, but probably surpasses it.

We're not giving up, we're calling Home School Legal Defense Association to see if they can offer assistance, and we're calling different recruiters to see if we can get a better answer. I am sure whether or not my son has to go get those credits, he will enlist sooner or later as his desire is to serve his country, always has been, but this whole experience and a few others has left me wondering.....

Would I be better off enrolling my other children in a public or private ISP with an accredited diploma for their high school years? As homeschoolers we are always told accreditation doesn't really mean anything and we needn't worry about such things. I tend to agree in the sense that I know several students who have graduated with "accredited" diplomas that can barely construct a proper paragraph or properly answer basic comprehension question after reading a brief paragraph. Yet these same barely literate students have more doors open to them thanks to that "accredited" diploma than my students who have studied things such as Latin, and score in the high 90's on the English portions of the ASVAB. So clearly while that accreditation may not mean much in terms of what the students actually have studied or retained, it does mean something in the eyes of the military and certain colleges.

Another incident we had was when my son was in 10th grade he hesitantly decided to enroll in public school because he wanted to be in the ROTC program, no other reason than that. Well, we called THREE schools and were told seeing as we weren't enrolled in an "Accredited" program his credits for those three semesters of school were not valid and he'd have to enroll as a ninth grader! Needless to say, he didn't enroll.

I am really feeling let down and disappointed, not only in the Coast Guard and their response to us yesterday, but in all of the experts out there who didn't warn us of such things. We were always told not to worry that our diploma is valid, which I still believe it is, and it is just a matter of talking to the right recruiter, but I really wish we'd been warned about the possible difficulties we may face.

Nobody ever talks about the difficulties, only the praises of homeschooling and the success's of those graduating from homeschool. I am still an avid homeschool advocate, and intend to continue to homeschool my other boys, but I am really rethinking this whole accreditation thing. While I don't put much stock in the whole process, apparently the military, certain colleges, and even some potential employers do.

So, here I am sharing with you, that which I wish someone had shared with me. Yes, I still feel homeschooling is the best option for most families. I really do believe 100 % that the education your child will receive at home in most cases far surpasses what he or she would receive in public school. And while for those of us that are Christians, our first priority should be to raise a godly generation, and that is more easily obtained in the homeschooling environment, the truth of the matter is students will still need to follow up that godly education in the real world with a job, college or military, so academics ARE important, and it seems that also that accreditation we are too often told isn't important, seems to be as well.

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