Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » DIPLOMA MILL?

    Filed at 4:11 pm under by dcobranchi

    The Santa Cruz Sentinel has an “exposé” of what sure sounds like a diploma mill.

    For $240, an essay and a letter of support from an adult, Wes Beach will provide a diploma to just about any high school dropout or homeschooled student who strolls into his office.

    We all know that homeschoolers don’t need this, but the article got me thinking: What’s to stop a high-school dropout from claiming (a few years down the road) that he was homeschooled? And, if he has sub-par academic skills, how does that make us look? We’ve recently seen teachers padding their resumés with fake degrees. I’d bet that it’s just a matter of time before claiming homeschool-grad status is the preferred dodge for g-school dropouts.

    3 Responses to “DIPLOMA MILL?”

    Comment by
    Laura Derrick
    May 23rd, 2004
    at 6:09 pm

    Don’t believe everything you read. Wes has been active in homeschooling circles in California for a long, long time. He’s helped many a teen get on with life and get into college despite not having a conventional high school experience.

    Wes serves as the Homeschool Association of California’s teen adviser. He also speaks at conferences, and will do seminars for free (though hosts usually ask for donations to cover his travel expenses) for homeschool groups. He’s written a great booklet about documenting homeschooling studies (creating transcripts) that includes a lot of ideas about documenting unschooling, getting into college with a non-traditional education or without a high school diploma, etc. HSC sells it now, but he gave it away for free for years, and still gives it away to people who come to one of his talks.

    Some of the diplomas he awards are to kids who have done a pretty traditional curriculum. Others are very non-traditional, and their transcripts reflect that. Here’s a paragraph that he includes on his non-traditional transcripts:

    “Beach High School exists to support students who want to gain an education outside of a traditional high school setting. We award diplomas to students who convincingly present themselves as ready and able to move on beyond high school and who have established a direction for the next part of their lives. Our experience over many years has taught us that people succeed in wonderful ways, including through academic work in college, whenever they make deliberate, informed, and deeply personal decisions to move on. Our students have accomplished a great deal in practical crafts, the arts, business, and the professions, and they often reach the highest levels of formal education. It is their recognition of their genuine interests and talents and their confidence and wholeness that carry them where they want to go.”

    He’s very up front about the diplomas being awarded for non-traditional work. Often, the transcripts he issues end up being a combination of traditional credits and non-traditional narrative. Wes believes that someone deserves a diploma if they have the interests, talents, skills, and confidence to move on with their life beyond high school, and he’s very much engaged with the kids who enroll at his school in helping them be successful – he doesn’t just hand them a piece of paper.

    In any case, I have a lot of respect for the guy and was sad to see this article.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    May 24th, 2004
    at 1:09 am

    Thanks for the comments and the clarification. The article doesn’t present the diploma mill charge as completely cut-and-dried. I originally tried to represent the uncertainty in my synopsis (hence the question mark in the title). In editing the post, I got side-tracked with the thought of g-schooler dropouts claiming to be homeschool grads and deleted the important “disclaimer” section. Mea culpa.

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    May 24th, 2004
    at 6:53 pm

    Roll your own diploma

    It doesn’t take much to get a high school diploma from Beach High School in Soquel. Wes Beach, a former public high school teacher, requires only an essay, a letter of support from an adult and $240. Is he running…