How to show homeschool on resume?
December 10, 2007 3:21 PM   Subscribe

I'm helping a family friend with his resume - how to best present his GED and homeschooled background?

I'm helping a family friend work on his resume. He was raised by very religious parents who made the decision to homeschool him. He obtained his GED upon completing his studies at home. He has had some job experience (retail and restaurant type things) but now that he's relocated from his small town to the big city, he is sprucing up his resume. What should he say about his educational background? That he has his GED? That he was homeschooled? Neither? Both? Does GED look worse than having an HS diploma? Should he mention anything specific?

Anticipating possible areas for clarification/satisfying the curious:

He's not applying for anything overly ambitious - a better quality of job yes but he's not being cocky.
He has not yet pursued any higher education.
He is very bright, talented, and personable.
He is not himself fundamentalist/super conservative. (thus explaining his affiliation with the Stick family)
posted by pointystick to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Has he considered signing up for a class or two at a community college? Then he can write he is currently enrolled and pursuing a degree and that whole high school/GED/home school situation becomes irrelevant. Enrolling in classes also shows initiative, never a bad thing when looking for a job.
posted by 45moore45 at 3:38 PM on December 10, 2007

The oddness of his educational background will dog him from job to job until he eventually starts college. The sooner he continues his education, the better. I like 45moore45's idea of getting him into community college even if only part time.

GEDs are unfairly stereotyped and so is homeschooling, though each for different reasons. Also, since he is in a big city this prejudice may be more pronounced. Sadly, if he is going toe to toe with a high school graduate he may well be passed over for someone perceived as "more normal" or less of a "risk."

I'm not sure how you can "spin" his current educational experience on his resume. I think you have to just accept that people are going to be puzzled by it and compensate for it with a good cover letter explaining his experience, professionalism, passion, etc. In his interview, if he can be lighthearted about it, perhaps make a joke about it, etc then this may put the interviewer at ease. Also he should talk up any examples of the academic rigors he endured while talking down the religious angle.

That said, there are places where this type of background is preferred - notably in church environments. So, if he can stomach it, there are probably lots of jobs out there which will welcome him. Church in the US is a major industry nowadays with lots of opportunities for "one of their own."
posted by wfrgms at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2007

He could highlight specific, relevant things he did as a homeschooled high schooler. Are there unique projects he completed, research he did, creative things he pursued? Did he solve any problems? Did he do any volunteer work? Was he involved in any organizations? What did he accomplish? Be specific about those things that highlight his initiative, ability to follow through, independent thought and action--all the homeschooled teens I know tend to have lots of that kinds of stuff.

I'd try to organize the resume so that it highlighted his job experience and anything else that concretely shows what he's capable of, and downplayed the whole GED/homeschool/high school thing. Don't put "Education" at the top in big letters, in other words: lead off with "relevant experience" or "skills and accomplishments," something like that.

Did his family issue him a diploma? Some families do, especially in areas where the homeschool has to be monitored. If so, if I were him, I might just say I graduated in thus-and-such a year. Probably not, though, if he went for the GED.

Also, as far as stereotyping--I taught freshman composition at the college level for 13 years, and I always loved having homeschooled students. They were always better prepared for the class, more literate, and more willing to take responsibility for themselves and their work than most students. People I know whose homeschooled kids are reaching adulthood report that it is often seen as an advantage by employers who've encountered homeschooled kids before. Just anecdotally tossing that in there.
posted by not that girl at 4:30 PM on December 10, 2007

With his background I assume that he will be going for something in the service industry, in which case coming off as being conservative probably won't be a bad thing because people generally think conservative/religious = honest, works hard and won't steal from me.

Office type jobs he could start having some problems. I would be tempted to leave the education section off his resume and maybe opt for a skills section, where he'll want to really push any computer skills he has, among others. If you do include an education section, I would get detailed with the subjects covered and that sort of thing. Demonstrating that he had a real education despite being homeschooled will probably help normalize it. Also, like for the service jobs, coming off religious and conservative may not be a bad thing if he can spin it as being hard working, honest and reliable in the interviews. That's what most people want in low level administrative positions more than anything.
posted by whoaali at 4:32 PM on December 10, 2007

I too was raised fundamentalist and completely home schooled and am in my senior year of a pretty good state university now - I never took the GRE or SAT/ACT, just went to community college for two years and transfered (now a Gender Studies major and a rabid liberal...oh how far we fall.. ;) ). I've had quite a few different jobs, both food type and more frequently ones in the educational realm. I've never had a problem getting a job because of my educational background though, often it's worked in my advantage as something that I can give a positive spin to, ie. "Because of this, I'm now very self motivated and independent". It's also one of those little quirky things that sometimes makes interviewers remember you..

I do think though, that putting the GED on is not positive, if the employer asks or seems hostile to home schooling he could definitely mention it in an interview though, again I just think it depends on how you spin it.

Alternately, depending on the state he went to he could just make up a name for his home school "Johnson Academy" and leave it up to the interviewer to view it as a private school...I don't know about some states, but in IL the laws (at least when I was in high school) basically said that home schools were essentially private schools. I have a few friends who did that...but that's a little sketchier than being upfront. :)

I live in Chicago now and I've had absolutely no negative repercussions because of it. :) Shoot me an email if you (or he) has any questions! :D
posted by gleea at 5:04 PM on December 10, 2007

I was homeschooled, but in my case I had a school's name to put down on my resume. However, the school actually functioned basically as a record-keeping service for my parents. If this person's family didn't name the school, he should make up a respectable name for it, and list it on his resume just as if he had graduated from any other high school. I guess it would be wise to make sure his parents would vouch for the name of the school if needed. Don't hide the fact that it was homeschool, but there's no reason to call unnecessary attention to it. Not sure whether a GED is worth listing or not.

Beyond that, list any honors, standardized test scores, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities, if any are applicable. If he does enroll in college courses, he should list that.

He should go to his interviews with confidence, not shame! Good luck!
posted by kidbritish at 5:38 PM on December 10, 2007

It really depends what this is for. If it's for employment, if he can demonstrate basic literacy, communication skills, and common sense, the employer is unlikely to give a damn, unless it's some kind of government agency or similar employer which requires all T's crossed and I's dotted on employment applications. If it's for higher education, credible certification is going to be needed. Who certified that he successfully completed high school? His state educational department? A local school district administration? If he took exams, who marked them? Was it a correspondence course? What authority signed off on him not being a "truant", at least until he reached the minimum schooling age?

Worst case scenario is, no authority and no certification, so therefore he has not done high school. In which case, he's probably best off doing a "self-paced" correspondence course high school diploma with no minimum time requirement, and breezing through it in a few weeks (this can be expensive, but might even be offered for a small cost or free by the state education department). Alternatively if he wants to get into an educational institution they may have an "adult entry program" or "mature aged student entrance exam" or something similar, which is primarily designed to accommodate the entry of people whose schooling predates formal certificaiton, but can be applied easily enough to young people in your friend's situation.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:01 PM on December 10, 2007

I think it should just say he was homeschooled. Working in service industry and entry-level/moderate-experience-required office positions, this presented absolutely no problem. In fact, when I applied for a receptionist position at a doctor's office they were impressed by the fact that I was home-schooled (and I received no kind of diploma at the time, I've since gone and received a diploma, but it made no difference as far as work). I've had more than one potential employer who found it to be interesting, not a turn-off. They would ask me about it and I would talk about it. Made great conversation, unless he's ashamed of it I think it makes him unique.

His personality will help quite a bit. I know that it was my intelligence combined with my ability to discuss my unique background that impressed quite a few employers. I never had trouble getting a job (I'm currently disabled).
posted by Danila at 6:15 PM on December 10, 2007

Oh, and I got a government job no problem.
posted by Danila at 6:16 PM on December 10, 2007

Apologies for the triple post, but here is what the professional resume consultant put on my resume under Education:

6/2000 Home School, Philadelphia, PA

posted by Danila at 6:19 PM on December 10, 2007

Thanks to everyone so far, you've all said some really helpful things! (I almost want to mark mark everyone as best answer)

To 45moore45 and others who mentioned it, community college is definitely something that he'd like to do when he has a bit of money to spare.

Gleea, we may shoot you an email and Danila, a gov't job may be of interest so that is good to know.

Mefites are, as usual, awesome.
posted by pointystick at 7:07 PM on December 10, 2007

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