Every student needs a high school transcript. They are essential when you’re applying for college, the military, and for some entry-level jobs. Today, most colleges and universities are open to and excited about having homeschooled students apply. Although some colleges might ask homeschooled students to include additional application requirements, most schools require only the basics. These include college entrance exam scores, letters of recommendation, and high school transcripts.
Goal-setting is very important for your student in these formative years. It doesn’t matter whether your teen is just starting or half-way through high school. Think about where you want him or her to end up academically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. When deciding on a direction for your student, start with the goal in mind.
It is your responsibility as a homeschooling parent to keep a record of your child’s academic progress throughout their high school years. You should start working on your student’s transcripts in the ninth grade or earlier. Although it usually does not matter when your student takes particular courses, it is important to ensure your they complete the minimum requirement of courses to graduate from high school.
Creating transcripts does not have to be a daunting task. In fact, it’s pretty easy to keep up with the task as long as you’re consistent over time. All you need is a transcript template and the discipline to write down the course material credits and dates of completion. Simply include every class and record his or her grades consistently over the next four years, and that’s it! There are also some programs that will do it for you.
It is also a good idea to save schoolwork samples using the most important assignments or projects. This allows your student the ability to showcase his or her best work and reference examples when applying for college or a job. Be wary of people or companies that sabotage your homeschooling efforts with statements such as “students need their classes accredited,” in order for them to be credible.
There is no wrong way to format a transcript. Colleges and universities expect to see a variety of transcript styles because every school uses a different style. As the homeschool administrator, you can choose whatever format works best for you. Again, consistency and clarity are essential.
Transcripts can be created on any computer program, including Microsoft Word. Some homeschool parents prefer a traditional transcript format where details are recorded by semester. Other parents prefer an unconventional transcript format and section the information by class content or subject matter. Either works so long as you are consistent throughout the transcript.
All transcripts should have identifying information including a student’s name, address, phone number, date of birth, email address, gender, and social security number. Schools use this information as a quick reference to identify applicants and to organize a student’s information. If your student’s transcript is more than one page long, ensure that there is enough biographical information on every page to identify the student properly. This way if the pages get separated, the information can easily be put back together. It is helpful to insert a header or footer with your child’s name and the document page number.
Course Titles and Descriptions
When filling out a transcript, you need to use specific course titles such as English I, II, and III; Algebra; Biology; American History, and so on. Whereas it is perfectly acceptable to give your student’s courses generic titles such as English I, you might like to give their courses more specific titles such as Comprehensive Essay Writing.
Specific course titles give colleges and universities a better idea of the material your student has focused on. They also add variety and flair to your student’s transcripts and make them more impressive. If you are having trouble coming up with creative course titles, look at a local college course catalog to get some ideas. You can also go to your state educational agency’s website to help you name your classes.
In order to evaluate your student’s abilities, colleges and universities need your child’s transcript complete with grades and an accompanying grading scale. Establish the grading system for each course. This can be as simple as stating that 90–100 equals an “A”, and so on. The other side of this equation is making sure that your teen knows exactly what is expected of them and how the class is measured. It does not matter what particular grading scale you choose, so long as you are consistent. A possible grading system could be based 33% tests, 33% on daily work, and 34% on the final exam, but the standard can be set to accentuate your student’s strengths.
While every state’s requirements are different, students typically need to complete an average of 24 credits in order to graduate from high school. A high school credit is a unit of measure to record class time. Typically, students receive one credit per 120–150 hours of completed class time in a particular subject. This does not include homework, which should be an extra 50–65 hours. Credits are generally given in halves for 60–75 hours of class work and wholes for 120–150 hours of class work. Credits may also be based on finishing a particular curriculum or book or reaching the level of mastery required for a particular course.
Not all subjects that you include in your student’s transcript have to fall into traditional classroom subjects. Students who undertake independent studies such as career training, computer skills, or home skills, can receive academic credit. Students just need to put enough hours into these subjects to warrant credit and their work needs some sort of evaluation scale. Credit can be awarded for a textbook approach, logging in actual hours, combining related experiences, or through taking college courses or demonstrating expertise. You can also choose to give your students pass/fail grades on such courses. Independent studies are great ways to turn your student’s extracurricular interests into high school electives. In most cases, SAT prep and Bible studies can also be considered an elective.
Your Transcript Essentials Checklist
- Name and address of the homeschool
- Parents’ contact information
- Student’s personal information: gender, grade level, birth date, and social security number
- List of courses and grades for ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades
- A course description key and grading scale
- Cumulative GPA
- Best Standardized test scores (SAT, ACT)
- Dual enrollment, AP, CLEP, and honors courses
For students to have a transcript that sets them apart, here are some ideas to add to their academic record:
Two Prestigious Awards
If you want to make the Admissions Counselor sit up in his or her chair and take notice of your homeschooler, add these two prestigious yet seldom-applied-for awards.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award
Students can commence this program as early as five years old and continue into adulthood. There are three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Students need to meet a minimum number of volunteer hours in a twelve-month period, depending on their age. Once accomplished, students can receive official recognition, a personalized certificate, an official pin, coin, or medallion, and a congratulatory letter from the President.
The Congressional Award
This program is designed for students 14–23 years old. They will set goals in four areas: personal development, physical fitness, exploration, and community service. An outside mentor will oversee their progress and, if they attain the gold medal status, the student will be invited to Washington to receive their award from Congress.
Younger students can boost their transcripts by participating in a talent search. One example of this is the Duke TIP Letter. There are various ways to qualify. For example, students can sit for the Iowa Test (ITBS) or Stanford Tests, and parents can even nominate their own child. Choosing this option, you would take the SAT in 7th Grade. This is a tremendous honor for successful candidates who could receive a huge award ceremony, their name in the paper, and state recognition. Admissions counselors love to see this transcript addition because it demonstrates maturity and focus at a young age.
If students don’t include volunteer service in their resume, they will pale in comparison to all those who do. It should be recorded on a spreadsheet noting hours volunteered and the supervisor’s name. Make sure to get a letter of recommendation for your portfolio. Demonstrate dedication and commitment by having a record of consistent volunteer work over a period of time.
You can also gain an edge in the form of AP classes, dual enrollment, and CLEP credits. Creating a high school portfolio can showcase accomplishments, such as four-year academic and four-year summer plans. Recording information about clubs, memberships, awards, competitions and workshops not only highlights a well-rounded student—the type colleges are looking for—but can also be the tool to receive coveted scholarship money.
Students should be very proud of their homeschool transcript. After all, it is the culmination of their accomplishments during their high school journey. It should include not only the basic standard information required for graduation but also showcase that the student is as individual as his or her own unique home education.