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Education | 5 Minutes

When should I join the Diploma Program?

Dion Mote Written by Dion Mote
When should I join the Diploma Program?

As Academic Advisors and Veritas Press veteran moms, we’re often asked when the ideal time is to apply to and join the full-time Diploma Program. Our typical replies sound something like, “Any time is a great time to join the Diploma Program. The support of an Academic Advisor is valuable no matter the grade level of your student. Academic Advisors successfully create course plans and graduation paths for older students. Joining the Diploma Program at 8th, 9th, 10th, and even 11th grade is possible.

However, if given the time to unpack the question, we would expand and share that the ideal year to join the full-time Diploma program is no later than 7th grade.

More specifically, a consultation with an Academic Advisor in your student’s 6th-grade year and planning for their 7th-grade year is the most ideal time to join the Diploma program.

#1 Important groundwork is laid for future subject area courses in the 7th-8th grade. Prerequisite classes for high school Diploma Program requirements are taken in 7th and 8th grade. Delaying prerequisites will require taking these in high school. That leaves less room for electives and reduces the ability to reach the highest level in each subject area. Elite colleges view a school profile and look at courses offered at a school. They ask the admission question, “Did the student use all the courses available to them and their highest level?” Planning for and keeping prerequisite courses in 7th and 8th grade allows for the maximum level to be reached in a subject area per the student’s aptitude.

#2 Honors-level distinction planning should happen as early as possible in Middle School.

Many classes at the Associate’s level in high school are Honors classes and will be reflected as Honors on the transcript. However, for students who strive for Honors or Highest Honors distinction at Veritas, the sequence of courses is essential and, at times, begins in 6th and 7th grade. One example of this is starting Omnibus in 7th grade so they can take all 6 years of Omnibus– a requirement for the Highest Honors distinction.

If you aren’t aware of the sequence of courses in early Secondary school, then students are often forced to double up subjects in high school to meet Honors graduation requirements. Students who pursue Honors are taking the most rigorous and work-laden courses. Starting early down that path prevents fatigue and the stress of playing catch up. There are times when Academic Advisors are forced to deliver disappointing news to students who are accepted to the Diploma Program in later years that there simply is not enough time to complete the graduation requirements for Honors.

#3 Graduation requirements begin in 7th grade for non Honors track.

As is true for Honors track requirements, there are specific graduation requirements for non-Honors graduation tracks. If a student joins VSA after they’ve already begun their high school years, they’re also commonly forced to double up subjects in high school or reclassify at a lower grade level. Doubling up on subjects causes stress, fatigue, and anxiety. The last thing you want to do is waste your student’s time taking classes that don’t fit the Diploma Program requirements if you’re planning on having your student join VSA in high school.

#4 Not all homeschool-taught subjects will be automatically granted as “completed” for the full-time Diploma Program.

Parents often assume that if they teach a subject using a similar or identical curriculum to what is taught in live classes, their 7th and 8th-grade students will be set up for success in future subject levels. There are specific criteria for transfer of outside or homeschool courses per the Middle States Accreditation and ACCS requirements; in most cases, proof of competency will be required (meaning taking a placement test). Advisement of crucial subject areas in advance of 7th or 8th grade will lead to better success in meeting graduation requirements.

#5 School community begins in 7th grade.

Starting in 7th grade, full-time students are placed in exclusive groups within our learning management system (Schoology). Relationships are forged early, and class culture from the earliest possible years. Joining the Diploma program later in high school can make these groups feel estranged. They are designed to build community and support our full-time students.

#6 Acclimating to the rigor and pace of VSA full-time in Middle School provides a lower-stakes opportunity to learn time management and the importance of ownership of their studies.

In reality, the grades received in 7th and 8th grade are insignificant on high school transcripts. With one exception, grades and subjects taken in 7th and 8th grade are not recorded or tracked on the students' accredited high school transcript. However, the passage of crucial prerequisites is required. This omission of 7th and 8th-grade grades allows time for a student to make mistakes. Being part of the full-time program and under the supervision of an Academic Advisor in middle school allows young students to make mistakes, experience consequences for their actions, and mature.

Distractions from things like chat rooms and wasting time away from their studies with middle school nonsense can be eliminated as they mature and experience life as full-time students. The stakes are lower in 7th and 8th grade, and mistakes and lower grades can be absorbed in a way that is not possible in the high school years.

Any year is a good year to join the full-time diploma program, but the year (or years) before 7th grade reap the most benefit!

If you’re considering the Diploma Program and want to talk to an expert, schedule a free consultation with a Famly Consultant today! They will take time to hear your unique family rhythm, education history, and educational goals to help you make the right decision for your family.