When my oldest skidded into teenagerhood and informed me that she wanted to keep homeschooling through high school, I realized I would need to learn how to create a homeschool transcript! That’s when I jumped into research mode.
Prior to this point, I had not kept any records of any sort. I’m allergic to clutter and I habitually throw away any papers that cross the threshold of my home. Just ask my husband if you don’t believe me.
The thing that intimidated me most about homeschooling high school was creating homeschool transcripts, because I knew it would involve lots of record keeping. Luckily, I found a solution that was relatively easy and completely free.
Let’s talk about how to create homeschool transcripts.
What is a homeschool transcript?
Just in case you don’t know, a high school diploma is merely a certificate, awarded to high school graduates, upon completion of the requirements set forth by the high school for graduation. They are so easy to forge that they are no longer considered to be adequate evidence of high school graduation.
I don’t mean to insult your intelligence. I just thought I’d start here, because I originally did not know the difference between a transcript and a diploma.
A high school transcript is a student’s official academic record — a detailed record of the courses a student has completed, the credits they have obtained, and the grades they have earned. Parents who homeschool their children independently are responsible for creating their children’s high school transcripts.
It’s important to understand that when colleges ask for student records, they are asking for high school transcripts -— not diplomas. As the student’s official academic record, the high school transcript is submitted to universities to demonstrate the student’s ability to work at a college level. That is it’s sole purpose.
College admissions personnel are trained to evaluate high school transcripts in depth, looking for specific information, such as math courses completed or number of semesters of a foreign language course, that they use to determine whether a student is admissible to their university and also to certain programs within the university. They don’t want students who haven’t yet taken Calculus to inadvertently end up in the engineering program, inadequately prepared.
Your student’s ACT or SAT scores actually matter more to admission personnel than his transcripts, just because grades and class descriptions are more arbitrary than a nationally administered test. (They don’t trust mommy’s word that junior is an excellent writer, haha!) The application itself is used to gauge the personality of the applicant, his well-roundedness and his areas of expertise.
Do all homeschool students need a transcript for high school?
The simple answer to that question is yes.
Whether your homeschooled students plans to join the workforce, attend a university, vocational school, trade school, or the military, he will need a homeschool transcript. So keep reading to learn how to create one.
What is the best way to keep records for a high school transcript?
Have I mentioned yet that I’m allergic to paper clutter?
When I hear other homeschoolers talk about creating portfolios and saving all of their children’s work from 8th grade on, it gives me anxiety. It might be because I have eight kids, and they produce enough “stuff” annually to more than fill our house, top to bottom.
Luckily, you can choose to keep records in a way that suits you! I use Google Sheets to record my kiddos schedules, course descriptions and even their literature lists. I scan important documents and photos of special projects into Google Photos. And I let the cloud (yes, I know it’s really just a server in a warehouse somewhere) do the work of storing it all for me.
Your record keeping process should be simple for you to use, because it’s so much easier to keep up with courses and grades as you go along rather than waiting until your child is applying to university to slap a transcript together.
Keeping accurate homeschool records will make creating a transcript much easier. It will save you a whole lot of headache in the long run, I promise! My method only takes me a few minutes each year, and the linked post above will give you access to the Google Sheet template that I use — for free.
What goes on a homeschool high school transcript?
A transcript’s purpose is to communicate the student’s readiness for college by proving that they have completed all of the requirements for admission. As such, a homeschool transcript should include course names that are as descriptive as possible and that appropriately reflect the difficulty level of the work.
A homeschool transcript should include:
- It should be titled OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT, and yes, you must include the word official.
- Student’s personal information: name, DOB, and approximate graduation date (if your teen is applying via the Common App, also include the Common App ID)
- Your homeschool name and address
- Your phone number
- A section for each grade or year of high school, each of which should include courses taken, course weight, the number of credits earned, the percentage earned, and the letter grade earned.
- Each section should also include, at the bottom, the cumulative credits earned and the cumulative GPA
- Grading scale
- Signature of the homeschool principal or director, along with the date signed
How do I calculate grades for our homeschool transcript?
Grading can be subjective. That may be the reason transcripts are weighted less heavily in the admission process than ACT/SAT scores.
Each time I create a homeschool transcript I wonder if I should include a brief synopsis of my grading methods, just so admission personnel aren’t skeptical of the transcript. That’s because I don’t allow my kiddos to earn less than an A in any of the classes I am responsible for, so their transcripts are pretty much all A’s.
If my teen misses a math problem, we discuss the underlying concept, and he corrects the problem. If he doesn’t understand a concept in any subject, we work until he does. If my child hands in a poorly written paper, I hand it back and tell him I think he can do better.
You might operate your homeschool differently, so here are some questions to ask yourself. Did your teen complete the coursework to your expectations? Did he learn something? As the guidance counselor/administrator of your homeschool, you get to decide how to evaluate your teen’s work.
How many high school credits are needed to graduate? What are the required courses?
The simplest answer here is that your state might have graduation requirements for homeschoolers, but probably doesn’t. Most states have graduation requirements for their public schools, but not for homeschoolers.
So the best place to look for these answers is at the website of any universities your teen is considering attending. All the universities I’ve checked have easy to follow charts that show you exactly what you’ll need.
These questions are answered in great detail in this post, if you need more information:
One way in which I keep things simple in my homeschool is by crossing the curriculum, wherever appropriate. For example, during a study of U. S. History, I might assign my teen to read Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer (such a great book, by the way!) and I could award credit for both literature and history.
Obviously, I wouldn’t award credit for reading one book, it would need to be ongoing. Literature is a fantastic way to study history, and two birds can be killed with one stone.
How do I list honors, AP, and college courses?
AP courses can only be listed on a homeschool transcript as AP if the instructor submits the course materials and receives approval for the year in which the audit was conducted. I’m not one to voluntarily subject myself to an audit, but that doesn’t mean my teens can’t take AP courses.
This is how we do it. I notate the AP course as an honors class on my teens transcript, with a capital H to the left of the course title. My teen studies the materials. We visit the high school counselor at our local public school to register and pay the fee for the AP course. (We typically register in early March, and the fee is about $90).
My teen shows up in May to test with all of the public schoolers. He indicates on the test form 3 universities to which he would like his test scores sent. Once the scores are published, if my teen scored proficient or better, he’ll be awarded credit by the university for the category under which the test falls, and I award him 1 high school credit on his homeschool transcript.
Concurrent enrollment courses, for which a student earns both high school and college credit at the same time, are another tricky class to list. Your teen can take them on a local college campus, or via broadcast at the local high school.
If your teen is successful (these classes go on his permanent college transcript, so please do your utmost to see that he is successful!) he will be awarded credit concurrently on both is college transcript and the high school homeschool transcript you are creating for him.
I don’t denote concurrent enrollment courses any differently than regular courses, because admissions personnel will also receive a copy of any university transcripts from which my teen has earned credit. So admissions personnel will be able to see which classes were college-level.
Should I weight AP, honors and college courses?
Weighting college level and honors courses won’t improve your teens chances admission or scholarships. Actually, one of the first things admissions personnel will do is go through the transcript and un-weight everything.
Go ahead and indicate concurrent enrollment and honors classes, but it won’t do you any good to give them a higher grading scale. AP or CLEP exam scores, which also go on the transcript will have more of an impact. And you’ll also submit the university transcripts for your teen’s concurrent enrollment classes.
Would you like to see a few sample homeschool transcripts?
Here is a sample homeschool transcript and Common App application from Khan Academy you may want to look over if you still have questions.
Sample homeschool transcript from lisbonix.com
Sample homeschool transcript from Scholarship Gold
Please read this before using the button below to download your free high school Homeschool Transcript Template. This is not difficult and is VERY Important! If you don’t read and follow these instructions, you will not be able to use the transcript template. Please do not request access from me. I can’t give it to you because your access to the original doc would change the original, making it unavailable to everyone else who would like to use it. Just follow the simple instructions below.
- Click the button below to open the document.
- Click ‘File’ (the first column)
- Click ‘Make a Copy’ in the drop down menu
- Rename your document and edit it however you’d like. It will automatically save to your Google Drive.
Do you have questions about creating your own homeschool transcripts for your high school student? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to help.