Transcripts and Diplomas

In some cases, abusive homeschool parents use their total control over their children’s education documents—such as their transcripts or diplomas—to control their children. In other cases, neglectful homeschool parents simply fail to create these documents for their children. There is no quality research on how common this problem is (Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out found that 8.82% of respondents to its 2013 HA Basic Survey reported being subject to identification abuse, or the withholding of important identification documents, but the survey did not use a random sample.) However, when children are homeschooled their parents do have total control over their children’s education documents and academic records. In this section we present stories of this sort of abuse or neglect, as told by homeschool graduates. While these stories are absolutely not the norm for homeschooling, they do suggest an area of concern.

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Revenwyn, age 30, homeschooled 1994 to 2002

I did not receive a high school diploma, about eight years later they admitted that I had no transcript. I was told that I had not passed my high schooling and to spare me shame was allowed to walk in the homeschool graduation about six months before I turned 20. Apparently I did not finish the requirements. I have tried to pass the GED but I have a severe learning disability (dyscalculia) and so I was unable to do so. I did however have college credits in music and art, and transferred to university on those, however I dropped out due to the learning disability. No high school transcript has made it hard to get work. I have had two jobs, both of which lasted about 8 months, and neither of which were good situations.

John, age 30, homeschooled 1991 to 2001

I had neither a HS diploma or an transcript, though this was due to ignorance on my parent’s part and not malice. When entering college I had to take the GED and create my own transcript from scratch.

Deborah, age 23, homeschooled 1994 to 2006

I did not get a diploma. It was talked about as something that should be done, the burden of it was placed on me, but no matter how hard I worked on it, the wording was never good enough and/or my dad just wanted more time to think about what he actually wanted it to say. It was like he wanted it to say I was 100% prepared for life in the way that fundamentalists view it – that is to say I was perfect according to their estimation. Of course, then they couldn’t actually say that because nobody is ever even good, much less perfect, in the eyes of a fundamentalist. I was able to get a letter from the school district saying that I had followed the state requirements after some pulling of teeth, and that was enough to get me into the college I wanted to attend. I never had trouble getting work, but never worked for a place that would require that they actually see a diploma.

April, 24, homeschooled 1993 to 2007

I did not receive a diploma and I had to force my mother to make a HS transcript so I could apply to community college – even though she forbade it. Not having a diploma definitely makes me feel like a drop out. Sometimes I feel like I should just pay to get my GED just in case one day my makeshift HS transcript isn’t enough.

Sarah, 23, homeschooled K-12th

I was not actually “schooled” – I can probably count on one hand the number of times they sat down and schooled me in my life, so I have no grades, tests, transcripts, diploma or any school documentation whatsoever.

SB, age 21, homeschooled 1997 to 2009

I graduated high school, but was never given a diploma because “it was only paper” or various other excuses they offered. I’ve thus far been unaffected by this due to the fact that I did finish high school; I just never got a physical diploma. I did my transcript myself around the time of graduating.

Justin, age 26, homeschooled 1996 to 2004

My parents did not give me a diploma or a transcript. They also failed to teach me anything beyond what I have come to believe is an eight grade level education. It was through neglect and an overarching desire to control and keep me within their cult organization, and leave me no other options ones that would lead me in a circular path and continue the same cycle that they had found within their cult. I obtained a GED, they did show the documentation to the required parties for me to register and take it, I did this when I was 17. I did not tell them why I wanted it, but I ended up running away to a private christian school where room and board were covered until I was 19, and the only way this place would take me was if I had a GED.

Emily Walton, age 34, homeschooled 1985 to 1996

My parents didn’t give me a high school transcript or diploma. I think it was because they didn’t think it mattered. For a while I had a hard time finding work, but eventually I built up enough experience that it was easier. I got my GED when I was about 28 years old and then went to college.

CJ, age 32, homeschooled 1988 to 1999

Have a diploma; had to keep my own transcript due to parents not being very organized. Had to print and/or mail the transcript myself, but all colleges accepted it. Finished master’s degree; graduated college cum laude. Had to be super-organized, but it paid off through the years.

Hannah, age 30, homeschooled 1989 to 2001

I printed out my own high school diploma from our home computer and had my dad sign it. If I hadn’t, I still wouldn’t have one.

Marla, 23, homeschooled 1995 to 2009

My high school boyfriend was nearly deprived of a high school diploma/transcripts. His mother had been negligent in her practice of homeschooling. She had signed up to homeschool through an umbrella school, but never submitted the required documentation to the school, so when it came time to ask for a transcript the umbrella school said no, and were also unwilling to prepare a diploma. This significantly damaged his ability to apply for college. My mother had a friend who ran a different umbrella school, and they managed to pull some strings and get him a transcript through it, but this was not completed until April of his senior year. He was only admitted to 1 college, despite a high ACT score, and it was a low-ranked state college. He has yet to graduate, and had a below 1.0 gpa his first 3 years.

Helen, age 26, homeschooled 1994 to 2006

I did not get a diploma or a transcript. My parents believed that women should not get a higher education and should stay at home until we married. After the marriage, the focus was to be on being a good wife and mother. I have had a extremely hard time finding a job to support myself without having graduated. I have too work multiple jobs and promotions are extremely hard to get. I recently was able to complete my GED but it has been incredibly hard.

J. Hathy, age 35, homeschooled 1982 to 1994

i have no highschool diploma or GED, because it turns out i have a severe learning disability involving math, so good luck getting any of that. i got my first job with a note from my mom at the age of 14, and moved out at 15 because i was tired of my dad’s paranoia and taking all my money to blow on things like, donating it to Paul and Jan Crouch and the like, or never taking us for medical care. only one of my siblings has a GED, sadly, he is also profoundly schizophrenic and unable to hold a job. 2 other siblings who are twins, didnt leave my parent’s property until their 30’s, and until last year, didnt even know how to do things like address an envelope or pay a bill, but they DID know how to get arrested a lot. the youngest got himself together and now owns a successful heating and air business, and is a drug counselor. i DID sneak into a lot of college lectures, because i never wanted to stop learning, and am now in my late 30’s and doing okay.

Hope, age 24, homeschooled 1994 to 2007

After I moved out I tried applying to schools and was unable to provide the necessary information like diploma and transcript. It took a lot of arguing and stress but finally my mom put some semblance of a transcript together and we found the Internet ordered diploma they had given me. (It was only as I talked with my school did I begin to realize what a joke my education was thanks to looking at my transcript)

Jessy, age 35, homeschooled 1983 to 1996

They did not give me a transcript, bc I didn’t NEED to go to college. I needed to be a stay at home mom. Not having a transcript meant I couldn’t go to the college I wanted to when I decided to go. I had to go to community college first to get “records” first. Waste of time and money and I am stilllllllllllll in college.

Michelle, age 36, homeschooled 1984 to 1999

I made my own HS Diploma several years after “graduation”. Having a diploma was not a priority. My transcript essentially was taking annual state testing and being at the right grade level. I passed a Community college entrance exam, and then got a 2 yr Associates, so not having a HS diploma/transcript didn’t cause too much trouble. I have had a few jobs, but not one where I can fully support myself, which I see as related to not having a 4yr degree. Getting a Bachleors and sustainable career is in my 5yr plan.

Anna, 24, homeschooled 1994 to 2007

My parents did not give me a diploma. It was through the fact they didn’t believe education was necessary. I did study for and obtain my GED, and go on to work and attend college.

Mel, 28, homeschooled 1995 to 2002

We didn’t follow a curriculum, so when I was 17 I took the GED. Same for my other siblings. When I went to college I made up a transcript of what I had done and my parents verified it.

Jay, age 20, homeschooled 1998 to 2009

No diploma. Left home at 17, lived with aunt. Eventually obtained GED. Did remedial courses at a Community College. No diploma or transcript because – neglect I guess. They were angry that I left home without permission or approval.

Karla, 32, homeschooled 3rd-12th

Had some type of typed up diploma. Did not have a highschool transcript. I got my GED, took my SAT’s on my own in my late teens. In my late 20’s I went back to school. I was married and pregnant with my 4th child at the time. I will graduate with my BS in education soon and plan to continue for my Masters as a reading specialist. I have maintained no lower than a 3.7 GPA throughout college. My parents did not believe in college. We were in a patriarchal, legalistic cultish group that recommended that girls become home makers and stay home or work in training centers until marriage. Thus, no transcripts were necessary. It was not out of malice. They thought they were doing the right thing. I wish I had gone to college but I got a fairly good highschool education.

Francesca, 29, homeschooled 1989 to 2001

They didn’t believe that a high school diploma was needed since we were all going to stay with them for the rest of our lives and take care of them. It was malice and neglect. I got a GED after I left. I worked and joined the army to pay for college because they would never sign financial aid documents… because I was a girl and women shouldn’t do anything without a man. They didn’t want us to be successful on our own. Education is evil.

Becca, age 32, homeschooled 3rd-12th

Diploma—yes. Transcript—no. I was not able to attend college (I could take the GED if I really wanted to). However, I chose a field that didn’t require it as much as it valued experience in the office setting. Having spent 8 years with my current employer, I’ve been able to get promoted to a job that is currently being created, and will be the perfect fit. That said, 6 years ago, I went to interview for my “dream job” and was told that due to the lack of college, I couldn’t be considered. The person doing the interview and I really clicked and she told me that it was an issue with an entire board of directors who wouldn’t wave the requirement, but that otherwise I was the perfect fit for the position. All that to say- yes I really feel like the lack of transcript\college has affected me in a negative way so I’ve had to work harder, rely more on other strengths in order to navigate employment.

Marla, 37, homeschooled 1982 to 1994

No, I had literally no education past age 12 or so. I had about a 3rd grade knowledge of math at age 18 and knew hardly anything about science or social studies. I knew how to read and write. We didn’t have a TV. I got a GED after studying for two years after I left. I took most of the subject tests separately after attending night classes at a high school.

Firstborn, age 24, homeschooled 1995 to 2007

I got a diploma from our homeschool group, but my parents lost it. I wrote my transcript and printed a diploma off of microsoft word and had the parents sign it so that I could apply for work. If I had been in school, I would have failed algebra and geometry. My transcript says B and A. Ithink my parents were busy with too many children, not organized, and didn’t think an educational record/documents would be that important since I’m “just” a girl. I have attended college and am employed.

Holly, age 34, homeschooled 1989-1997

My parents did not give me any high school transcript or diploma. When it was time to finish high school, my parents pushed me to do an “apprenticeship” opportunity in lieu of college. They told me I could eventually go to college, but that I was not ready, and that I needed to know what I wanted to do before I could go. Their thought was that until I was sure of the career path I wanted to take, education was a waste of money. However, I would be paying for the apprenticeship opportunity out of my college fund, which had been given to me by my grandfather. What I did not know was that this fund was legally mine as of my 18th birthday. Previous to my 18th birthday, the fund was managed by my mother, and my father had directed her to take money out for things they wanted to do for me, such as to buy my grandmother’s car and later give it to my brother, to send me away to ATI training functions I did not want to go to, and to support me in other ways. My parents pushed me to apply for YWAM, missions opportunities, and other unusual training opportunities, all Christian, but I refused to fill out the applications. I was seriously depressed and they would yell at me until I would cry and dissociate. All this time, I had no way to apply for college. I knew about college, I had taken the SAT, I had even made a 1440 out of 1600 on my first try. But I could not apply because I had no transcript. My mother would not make one. Living in NC, it was totally up to her. Once I turned 18, they turned the pressure off a little. I didn’t realize why until we went to the bank one day and they signed the account over to me. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but it was enough to go to 4 years of school. The only problem was that it was March and I wasn’t in college. I still didn’t have a transcript. Finally, my mom agreed that she would make a transcript if I would agree to apply to a small conservative Baptist college about 2 hours away from home. It wasn’t where I wanted to go and it didn’t have all the majors I thought I might consider, but I agreed to go. That year was good and bad. On the one hand, I was away from home. On the other hand, I was still very ill. I was depressed, anorexic, and had a serious gastrointestinal condition. There was no mental health or even regular health care available to me there. The food was terrible. The conservative campus was better than my parents’ house, but only marginally. I decided what I wanted to major in, and it was one of the majors not available at the school. At the end of the year, I realized I had two choices: stick it out one more year and try to transfer to the large, prestigious state school I had initially wanted to attend (they did not accept transfers after one year), or go home and go to a community college. I was still faced with the high school transcript issue, however. This could potentially dog me until I got a degree. Faced with the mental and physical health issues, the lack of support, and the frustration of having no answers, I came home, went to a community college for 2 years, and got an AAS in nursing. Then I got out, worked hard, and gradually got through school until I finally got my MSN and now I am a nurse practitioner. In retrospect, I think that I could have done this all much more quickly and effectively if I had done it my way. I won’t get over this. It was educational neglect. The hardest thing is that my parents don’t acknowledge or even realize that this occurred. I still have no idea where my transcript is.

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