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An "accredited" diploma. Is it important, or not?

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For an engineering engineering school to be ABET accredited is important.  It is much easier to meet the requirements for getting a professional engineering license.  

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Lots of homeschoolers have had kids accepted to top schools without accredited diplomas. Outside verification (SAT's, SAT-2's, AP's, college classes, etc.) is definitely part of applying to a top school, but an accredited diploma is not.

 

Any organization that tells you that an accredited diploma is better is trying to sell you something -- probably an unnecessary accredited diploma!

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Not necessary because most colleges will accept homeschoolers (ie, kids who did not attend accredited schools).  If you have a specific school in mind, you might want to check - some schools are more homeschool-friendly than others.  But if you have a diploma from an accredited school, that means you went to a private virtual school (or, yes, paid someone money to give you an iffy stamp of approval, imo)

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From a college?  Absolutely important to many employers or grad/prof schools.

 

From your homeschool?  Rarely important - only necessary for a handful of colleges or situations.  We did not need them.

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From a college?  Absolutely important to many employers or grad/prof schools.

 

From your homeschool?  Rarely important - only necessary for a handful of colleges or situations.  We did not need them.

 

I meant from my homeschool highschool.

 

I want to know before I start homeschooling high school if I should get involved with a curriculum provider / distance learning type of home study that offers an accredited diploma... or if I don't have to worry about it. I fear having a sophomore in high school and realizing I should have gotten on that track, but it will be too late to reasonably do that by the time I figure it out. KWIM?  I want to know now.

 

FWIW, I am newly Catholic and there seems to be more concern about accredited diplomas among Catholics (??). A ton of Catholic homeschooling families in my area are jumping on the Regina Caeli Academy wagon (a "hybrid" homeschool / 3-day-per-week Catholic school) and graduates receive an accredited diploma. Another hugely popular curriculum is Seton Home Study School through which kids can earn an accredited diploma, too. I think Kolbe might be another one. You get the idea. 

 

I'm basically feeling like I may be left in the dust as possibly the only Catholic homeschool mom in my area who is *not* (at least, I wasn't?!) planning on seeking an accredited diploma. So I'm reassessing whether or not one is important.

 

My plan WAS to literally homeschool my kids through 12th grade without use of any long-distance school (other than maybe a random class here or there), and then order a high school diploma from HSLDA and sign it myself, LOL. I may ask the superintendent of our school district to sign as a 2nd witness (I'm in NY where I sent quarterly reports so this doesn't seem unreasonable), but I know he may or may not. But that sort of diploma (obviously not "accredited"), plus SATs and professional-looking transcript written by me was my get-my-kids-into-college plan.  :ph34r:

 

So, in what situations WOULD you need an accredited diploma? If you are looking at ivy-league schools or something? What about if your child wants to go into Pre-med? Engineering? I don't want to accidentally "rule out" a bunch of options for my kids because we didn't get on the accredited diploma track.

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As a Catholic with a child that has applied to multiple great schools, an accredited diploma is not needed. There are specific schools that are difficult to work with out an accredited diploma, but that list is very short compared to the schools that are fine with a homeschool transcript.

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We've not found accredited diplomas to be a need.    The physics major also applied to top tier schools with no problem, but chose his current school based on its reputation and the money offered. To be blunt, college admissions and merit aid ( excluding the top tier where everyone is pretty much in the 99th percentile ) is largely based on test scores. Accreditation is not a concern as far as I've seen.

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Well, technically, schools are accredited, not diplomas. :-)

 

But no, the overwhelmingly vast majority of homeschoolers have not found it important to enroll their children in accredited schools. Or, to put it another way, the overwhelmingly vast majority of homeschooled graduates have been successful in life, in college and beyond, with diplomas awarded by their parents.

 

It is true that Catholic homeschoolers are swayed by accredited distance-learning schools such as Seton, partially, I believe, because it's pretty common for Catholic schools (and I don't mean colleges; I mean elementary through high school levels) to require homeschooled applicants to have been enrolled in accredited schools; fewer Catholics homeschool through high school, and re-enrolling their dc in the local Catholic high school is always a possibility, so they want to be ready. Possibly Catholic colleges want their applicants to have graduated from accredited schools; public and private colleges don't usually insist on it. I don't know why that is. o_0

 

Oh, and also, please don't bother talking to your superintendent. You don't need anything from him.

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There are RARE times an accredited high school diploma is helpful; almost never is it required. Situations where you might remotely need, or benefit from, an accredited high school diploma:

 

- NY residents wanting to attend a SUNY have to jump extra hoops without an accredited diploma

(post #19 of this past thread ("High School diploma"); these older past thread may be of help, but there have been some recent changes, so the info in these may be outdated:

New Yorkers who plan on sending homeschool graduates to a NY university -- help!

Homeschool Information for SUNY Orange County Community College

Canton State University homeschool admissions requirements
New York State graduation requirements for a Regents diploma or Advanced Regents diploma
CUNY City University of New York homeschool admission requirements)

 

- GA residents (and SC ??), to qualify for specific scholarship $$ to specific state university

(don't know if this is still in effect)

(however, in this past thread, Bev in B'ville links the GA state accrediting commission and gives details on the process of how to become an accredited homeschooler ;) )

 

- students applying to attend university in some European countries (esp. Germany) where homeschooling is prohibited or frowned on sometimes have an easier time with admissions with an accredited diploma

(however, homeschooling has become legal in a number of nations in recent years, so this is changing in a positive direction; also, going through IB (International Baccalaureate courses/testing), often makes this unnecessary; high SAT scores and naming your homeschool and creating a logo/letterhead also tends to bypass potential problems)

 

- some U.S. cosmetology schools require either a GED or an accredited high school diploma for entry

(presumably to prevent high level of drop-outs??)

 

- in ONE thread, ONE time, a parent shared that her son was denied an interview with a particular company because of having a homeschool high school diploma -- IN SPITE OF having a high quality college degree in the field

(the son dropped the company from his job list and was snapped up by a better company for more pay -- no further issues ;) )

 

- accreditation MAY make the path for playing college sports more smooth, as you MUST follow NCAA regulations throughout high school in order to be eligible to play and earn sports scholarships in college -- but NCAA regulations for homeschoolers recently changed, so accreditation may no longer be a concern

 

 

I'll just replay an excerpt from a past post of mine on this topic:

 

"The vast majority of the time, accreditation is NOT needed...  there is NO standardized national policy -- or even state-wide policy in many instances. 

The best thing to do is to find out for yourself:
1. What your State's laws are re: accreditation and homeschool? (if any)
2. What post-high school institutions would your DC likely attend? (find out requirements re: accreditation)
3. Talk with local homeschoolers to find out what they did (re: accreditation or no) in graduating their DC: Have the DC been accepted to colleges? Jobs? etc?
4. Read through your state homeschooling organization's material; ask questions about accreditation.

If your state does not have requirements about accreditation, here are some additional situations in which you may need to consider accreditation:
- Moving from a low regulation state to a highly regulated state during the high school years.
- Switching from home school to a local public or private school (in order to have homeschool credits accepted) -- [usually accreditation is NOT what the school demands, but instead, requires testing for every single course in order to grant credit].
- Applying to the rare, picky college or post-high school institution [i.e., cosmetology school]"

 

 

And yes, there are downsides to accreditation and cover schools:

- can be expensive

- may limit your curriculum choices

- the cover school or accrediting company may lose or discontinue accreditation services while you're in-process

- MORE than once, people have posted on this Board that their accrediting cover school messed up tracking their student's credits (NOT Kolbe or Seton)

- still may not be accepted by a high school if your student switches from homeschooling partway through high school

 

 

Finally, many people -- homeschoolers, university admission officers, and your average parent of a high schooler -- do not realize that not all high schools are accredited, and so the diplomas awarded by non-accredited high schools are NOT accredited diplomas. (You can do a search on whether high schools are accredited or not through the US Dept. of Education database. To check accreditation of post-high school institutions, see the CHEA website.)

 

 

You may find the discussions in past threads on accreditation to be helpful. Here are a few specifically on accreditation, from one of the pinned threads at the top of the high school board:

 

Accredited diploma: is it worth the $$$?
Advantage to getting a diploma from an accredited school?
Questions (accreditation, accredited diploma, college admission)
Do you really not need an accredited diploma? (accreditation process, pros/cons)
Important question about accreditation -- How important is this to getting into college (lengthy thread on accreditation process, pros and cons)
High school diploma (do homeschoolers need accredited diplomas; pros and cons) -- posts #19 and #20 address NY homeschoolers and SUNY admission/graduation
Accreditation question (links to outside resources on accreditation process)n accredited program…
Accredited high school home school programs
Are there accredited high school programs that allow you to choose curriculums?

 

 

Hope something here is of help as you research and decide whether accreditation is needed or worth it for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

 

P.S. -- SIDE NOTE: As you move through the high school years of homeschooling, you may find many of the linked past threads in those 2 pinned threads helpful:

Outsourcing, Online Classes, Tutors, Dual Enrollment, AP, SATII, CLEP -- past threads linked here!

Transcripts, Credits, GPA/Grading, Accreditation, College Prep/Applications, Scholarships/Financial Aid, Career Exploration -- past threads linked here!

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So, in what situations WOULD you need an accredited diploma? If you are looking at ivy-league schools or something? What about if your child wants to go into Pre-med? Engineering? I don't want to accidentally "rule out" a bunch of options for my kids because we didn't get on the accredited diploma track.

 

Definitely not for top schools - they don't care.  They will care about SAT/ACT scores, rigor of course content, and extra curricular activities.

 

In our (personal) experience, the University of Pittsburgh cared, but not enough to reject my guy.  They admitted him with significant merit aid, but had a letter saying they wanted a third party transcript before they would let him start either his second semester or second year (I forgot which).  If one couldn't be produced (it wouldn't have been), then some arrangement would have to be made with the Dean.  Had my guy wanted to go there we'd have made sure that was figured out prior to starting freshman year.  I suspect it's a formality with his scores, etc.  However, he chose to go to U Rochester (much higher ranked and enough aid to make it less expensive + he liked it better) instead, so we never followed up with Pitt.

 

We never had any other problem.  Lori provided some good links to check out other reported issues here and there.

 

In general, if a college were to have an issue, we'd cross them off our list as there are oodles of great colleges out there that don't have issues. As mentioned in the other thread (homeschooling high school), take a look at where Hive kids have been accepted.  The whole range of colleges are on there including Top 10.

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There are quite a few public schools that have lost their accredidation, I remember reading about school districts in Georgia, 2 or 3 years ago, that lost their accredidation.

 

The military academies will accept Home Schoolers and I consider them "top tier" schools.

 

From High School, this should not be an issue. From university, it is a *huge* issue, especially as someone else mentioned, for Engineering graduates.

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Well, technically, schools are accredited, not diplomas. :-)

 

But no, the overwhelmingly vast majority of homeschoolers have not found it important to enroll their children in accredited schools. Or, to put it another way, the overwhelmingly vast majority of homeschooled graduates have been successful in life, in college and beyond, with diplomas awarded by their parents.

 

It is true that Catholic homeschoolers are swayed by accredited distance-learning schools such as Seton, partially, I believe, because it's pretty common for Catholic schools (and I don't mean colleges; I mean elementary through high school levels) to require homeschooled applicants to have been enrolled in accredited schools; fewer Catholics homeschool through high school, and re-enrolling their dc in the local Catholic high school is always a possibility, so they want to be ready. Possibly Catholic colleges want their applicants to have graduated from accredited schools; public and private colleges don't usually insist on it. I don't know why that is. o_0

 

Oh, and also, please don't bother talking to your superintendent. You don't need anything from him.

 

Ellie, thanks for pointing out that schools are accredited, not diplomas. That makes sense. 

 

I'm glad I'm not crazy for sensing that accredidation is a bigger deal for Catholic homeschoolers for some reason. Nobody explicitly told me this and I have yet to understand why they care more about accredidation, but I definitely have that feeling. One friend told me that most homeschoolers he knows end up sending their kids to a high school of some sort. I was really surprised. BUT he's Catholic.

 

I wonder why Catholics are so concerned with leaving the door open to put their kids in high school (thereby necessitating the use of an accredited distance school like Seton). I will have to find out if Catholic colleges tend to have stricter admission requirements or something. Wouldn't that be a kicker.

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Isn't there some issue with going into the military straight from a homeschool high school? Don't they require a GED in that case? I have not paid much attention, so I could be all wrong, but I just wanted to throw it out there just in case it is relevant for someone else.

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I think the answer is as simple as the group of Catholics you are around and the fact that the major Catholic providers, Seton, Kolbe, and MODG, all provide accredited diplomas if enrolled. I am completely unaware of needing an accredited diploma when applying to Catholic colleges. When talking about Newman list schools, I'd venture that close to 50% of their enrollment comes from homeschoolers.

 

If you want to go provider route, go ahead. But, if you want to be eclectic and design your own, don't be intimidated by anyone. I have been part of groups that have had the attitude that if you aren't using Seton, you aren't Catholic homeschooling. Whatever. I just completely ignore the attitude and learned very quickly to not discuss our homeschooling philosophy with them. Really, that is not a hard thing to not do. The flip side is that the Seton homeschoolers are also about the only other homeschoolers as serious about academics as we are and the ones that understand, no, we can't do x,y,z bc we have to stay home and do school.

 

Fwiw, there are multiple reasons I don't use Catholic providers, but mostly bc I am not a school at home homeschooler. Our homeschool looks absolutely nothing like a Seton homeschoolers. When my dad died and my sick mother moved in with us, I enrolled our oldest dd in RC (which I thought was now Fisher More Academy??) and it was a disaster. They are most definitely "school." We ran into numerous technical glitches and contacting instructors was a complete headache. It was very bureaucratic......I am much happier educating my kids my way, even when life is completely overwhelming.

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Isn't there some issue with going into the military straight from a homeschool high school? Don't they require a GED in that case? I have not paid much attention, so I could be all wrong, but I just wanted to throw it out there just in case it is relevant for someone else.

 

 

No, not at all. And in fact, taking the GED can actually HURT a military applicant, as GED applicants automatically come in as eligible ONLY for Tier II positions along with high school dropouts. (Tier I positions are typically the more challenging and higher-paying types of positions; additionally, the Marines and Air Force only accept Tier I eligible applicants, and the Navy and Army accept far fewer Tier II eligible applicants than in the past.) Here is info on the DoD's Tier I/Tier II and diploma requirements (also includes some good links to additional specific info for homeschoolers).

 

 

However, while legally the Military now accepts homeschool diplomas, due to the economy and cutbacks, it is really helpful to also have some "extras" to stand out among the applicants -- things like:

 

- participation in high school military cadet group

- meet and exceed all physical requirements

- useful skills: a second language; computer tech/programming; EMT-certification; pilot or truck driver's license; etc.

- absolutely NO illegal activities/court records

- high score on the ASVAB

- 15 credits or more of college courses (through dual enrollment, a year of community college after graduation, CLEP or DANTES tests for credit...)

- completion of ROTC and 4-year degree at a university

- completion of 4-year degree at military academy

 

Here's a past thread with more on what helps for admission to the military: Is it possible to get in the Military without a high school education, GED-only?

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No, not at all. And in fact, taking the GED can actually HURT a military applicant, as GED applicants automatically come in as eligible ONLY for Tier II positions along with high school dropouts. (Tier I positions are typically the more challenging and higher-paying types of positions; additionally, the Marines and Air Force only accept Tier I eligible applicants, and the Navy and Army accept far fewer Tier II eligible applicants than in the past.) Here is info on the DoD's Tier I/Tier II and diploma requirements (also includes some good links to additional specific info for homeschoolers).

 

 

However, while legally the Military now accepts homeschool diplomas, due to the economy and cutbacks, it is really helpful to also have some "extras" to stand out among the applicants -- things like:

 

- participation in high school military cadet group

- meet and exceed all physical requirements

- useful skills: a second language; computer tech/programming; EMT-certification; pilot or truck driver's license; etc.

- absolutely NO illegal activities/court records

- high score on the ASVAB

- 15 credits or more of college courses (through dual enrollment, a year of community college after graduation, CLEP or DANTES tests for credit...)

- completion of ROTC and 4-year degree at a university

- completion of 4-year degree at military academy

 

Here's a past thread with more on what helps for admission to the military: Is it possible to get in the Military without a high school education, GED-only?

 

But I think the linked thread actually supports my primary point, which is that a nonaccredited HS diploma may not get you into the military.  An accredited HS diploma, on the other hand, would be less likely to be questioned.  

 

That said, the fact that "completion of a 4-year degree at military academy" may help you stand out to the military cracks me up.  Umm, yeah, get through the AFA, et al, and I would think you'd be at the front of the line.

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Ellie, thanks for pointing out that schools are accredited, not diplomas. That makes sense. 

 

I'm glad I'm not crazy for sensing that accredidation is a bigger deal for Catholic homeschoolers for some reason. Nobody explicitly told me this and I have yet to understand why they care more about accredidation, but I definitely have that feeling. One friend told me that most homeschoolers he knows end up sending their kids to a high school of some sort. I was really surprised. BUT he's Catholic.

 

I wonder why Catholics are so concerned with leaving the door open to put their kids in high school (thereby necessitating the use of an accredited distance school like Seton). I will have to find out if Catholic colleges tend to have stricter admission requirements or something. Wouldn't that be a kicker.

 

None of the Catholic high schools around here care about accreditation.  They care about your scores on their entrance exams and what you can document about their homeschooling experience (especially the previous 2 years.)  I think it is just the homeschoolers you are dealing with, who are more comfortable with a school-at-home, outsiders-know-best mentality. 

 

As far as Catholic colleges requiring accreditation, the only one I have come across is St. Louis University.  On their website, it actually mentions an accredited diploma or the GED as being required.  However, I did meet someone whose child was admitted without either of those.  I did a 15 minute search of Catholic colleges in my area as well as some of the bigger names (Notre Dame, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Creighton, etc.)  It appears that most Catholic colleges and universities I have run across that mention homeschooling do want outside validation of accomplishment via test scores (AP, SATII) in addition to ACT and/or SAT.

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It probably depends on your particular situation. For my older dd, it was not an issue. For next dd, she will need to take foreign language courses from an accredited school - in this case Brigham Young (high school online). It won't be an accredited diploma but the courses will be accredited.

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But I think the linked thread actually supports my primary point, which is that a nonaccredited HS diploma may not get you into the military... 

 

 

Hmmm... Guess I read it differently, as I also had read a number of websites which all support that federal laws make it clear that non-accredited diplomas from homeschoolers are not questioned -- the Navy website that I also linked, for example. (Side note: And what does the Military do about all the applicants who have diplomas from non-accredited high schools?? There are a number of high schools that are not accredited, and so the diplomas they award are not accredited...)

 

My take-away from the past thread I linked was that like any other job and occupational field, the economy has made entry into the military more competitive, so the point is to stand out in order to go to the head of the line, whether applying for entry into college, to the military, or for a job... High academics, experience, and extra skills are more likely to do that for military, college admission, or getting hired for a job, rather than an accredited diploma. Just my 2 cents worth! :)

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But I think the linked thread actually supports my primary point, which is that a nonaccredited HS diploma may not get you into the military.  An accredited HS diploma, on the other hand, would be less likely to be questioned.  

 

 

 

I have many friends whose children successfully enlisted in different branches of the military having graduated from their parents' schools.

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Isn't there some issue with going into the military straight from a homeschool high school? Don't they require a GED in that case? I have not paid much attention, so I could be all wrong, but I just wanted to throw it out there just in case it is relevant for someone else.

 

No. There have been in the past, but homeschoolers are on that, too, and it is rarely an issue any longer (HSLDA and other groups have successfully fought that requirement).

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I wonder why Catholics are so concerned with leaving the door open to put their kids in high school (thereby necessitating the use of an accredited distance school like Seton). I will have to find out if Catholic colleges tend to have stricter admission requirements or something. Wouldn't that be a kicker.

 

Fewer Catholics homeschool through high school than non-Catholic Christians. I don't know why this is so, but it is. I wonder if Catholic colleges are more likely to accept applicants from Catholic high schools than those who are not? That would cause the accredited-school issue to trickle down, as it were.

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I investigated this issue when my older homeschooler was in 8th grade. I concluded that we could go the independent route, especially with the community college to provide the classes I would be unable to manage and some classroom experience. Because we were homeschooling, my children traveled overseas during high school and suddenly, I began to wonder about that lack of diploma from an accredited school. I began to hear rumours of situations in which my children would be a big disadvantage and opportunities that would be closed to them. I never confirmed them, but it still makes me nervous. I heard rumours of employers in Japan wanting to see high school records even for applicants that had college degrees and wondered what they would think of a high schooler. The possiblity of my youngest attending an overseas university was not as remote as it had seemed when I first considered how to do high school. And then there is UMass Amherst, which accepted my son but said that in order to matriculate (have a major and graduate) he would have to have a transcript from our public school (not possible) or a cover school (didn't go that path) or take the GED (something I would like to avoid). He chose to go elsewhere, but if that doesn't work out, UMass Amherst is probably his best option. Aslo, in Mass., we have yearly approval letters. My sons' universities wanted to see those letters. This was easy enough to do, but it did make me wonder what would happen if we had been from a state which provides no paperwork to homeschoolers. I suspect we will be fine without that cover school, but if I were to do it again knowing we would become a more globe-trotting family and knowing that Mass. universities and community colleges were going to want paperwork of some sort, I might think twice about not having one.

 

Nan

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My daughter applied to ten colleges with a homemade transcript.  She was denied at one (Ivy league), wait listed at another, and accepted by eight. (One of those eight acceptances was from a Catholic college ~ College of the Holy Cross.)  She ended up attending a fairly selective liberal arts college.  So, in her case, a diploma from an outside agency was not important.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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No, not at all. And in fact, taking the GED can actually HURT a military applicant, as GED applicants automatically come in as eligible ONLY for Tier II positions along with high school dropouts. (Tier I positions are typically the more challenging and higher-paying types of positions; additionally, the Marines and Air Force only accept Tier I eligible applicants, and the Navy and Army accept far fewer Tier II eligible applicants than in the past.) Here is info on the DoD's Tier I/Tier II and diploma requirements (also includes some good links to additional specific info for homeschoolers).

 

 

However, while legally the Military now accepts homeschool diplomas, due to the economy and cutbacks, it is really helpful to also have some "extras" to stand out among the applicants -- things like:

 

- participation in high school military cadet group

- meet and exceed all physical requirements

- useful skills: a second language; computer tech/programming; EMT-certification; pilot or truck driver's license; etc.

- absolutely NO illegal activities/court records

- high score on the ASVAB

- 15 credits or more of college courses (through dual enrollment, a year of community college after graduation, CLEP or DANTES tests for credit...)

- completion of ROTC and 4-year degree at a university

- completion of 4-year degree at military academy

 

Here's a past thread with more on what helps for admission to the military: Is it possible to get in the Military without a high school education, GED-only?

Agree with this completely. My son and my nephew were both homeschooled. My nephew got his GED to enter the Army at 17. No bonus. My son had the high school diploma from the FPEA graduation in Florida. Not accredited. He got a $40,000 bonus. I had to submit a transcript and they contacted the county we were registered with in Florida. It was relatively easy.

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I have used an accredited school (Seton) for my son with autism/special needs. He had been in school prior to high school, and I thought that it would help to have his work accredited in case I ever need to use the school system again, or for any training provided to him through any social services. I actually have liked using their program, and sometimes consider using it for my other children, but think he needs it more, especially since it will likely be his final degree. Even his adapted courses are very solid; he has learned to work independently and has learned so much. We are not Catholic, so we have had to kind of work around some of our theological differences, but they are minimal. 

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I think it really depends on your goals long term. Let me start by saying that long term I don't know that it will matter if a school is accredited or not. Eventually the need to regulate education will vanish as schools focus on the understanding that the program they offer will be shaped by market demands. For now, however, the reality is that an accredited school looks significantly better than one that is not. Accredited schools mean that the curriculum meets at least a national minimum standard of education. Employers know what to expect as a bare minimum from the education provided by an accredited school.

 

The accreditation process doesn't evaluate instructional materials or curriculum or even a standard of education. Surprising but true.  Primarily, it's things like how many books are in the library, how long the school has been in operation, and does the school actually do the things it says it will do.

 

And FTR, most employers do not know whether the high schools their applicants attended are accredited or not. Colleges, maybe, but certainly not high schools.

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