High school transcripts intimidated me to no end as my oldest child entered 8th grade, so it was a relief to learn that they are a simply a logical continuation of what I’d already been doing. Amazingly, I did not have to change my homeschool to fit a transcript mold. In fact, there is no normal for high school transcripts! A transcript does not have to be “accredited,” and no special format is required.
I found this relief, along with detailed advise, in Lee Binz’s excellent book, Setting the Record Straight. Lee’s two homeschooled sons secured full-ride scholarships at their first-choice universities, so I figured she had something to say about it. You can purchase her Total Transcript Solution here.
In brief, your transcript can be as wonderfully unique as your homeschool – many colleges will love it! (Just make sure you type it. Handwritten transcripts are hard to read and will not usually be well-received.) Lee refers to transcripts as the “love language” of colleges; an effective transcript translates your child’s unique experiences and accomplishments into “college-ese,” summarizing recognizable course names; well-thought out, honest grades; and any important test scores and other achievements. Mind you, even grades are not a requirement. Some homeschoolers present high school transcripts in narrative form, and some colleges love this creativity. If you’re interested in exploring this option, contact Wes Beach of Beach High School.
Setting the Record Straight offers in-depth strategies to help parents learn homeschool-to-college translation skills. To build an impressive transcript through the high school years, record your child’s activities and accomplishments. Keep up with grading. List any awards, including sports awards, 4-H projects, honors societies, county fair prizes, and so on.
Don’t assume something isn’t worthy of high school credit just because it doesn’t sound official. The trick is to translate your child’s range of passions and experiences into the language college admissions offices understand and appreciate. I created an after-the-fact English class out of my son’s love for science fiction. I listed all the books and movies he’d enjoyed. I had him watch a DVD analysis of science fiction, and then he wrote an excellent term paper on the sub-genres of science fiction. Another child doesn’t realize he’s doing schoolwork as he researches and builds a computer from scratch. His many invested hours, both earning money for the parts and researching the how-to, translate to both technical and life skills. I don’t want to waste this, so I’ll record it, have him give an oral report, and assign a grade.
Lee offers a variety of transcript templates, but you can also design your own. An appendix in the back of Setting the Record Straight lists the components of a transcript: the title, student name, gender, date of birth, parent names, name and address of the school, names of the courses, the graduation date, credits, grades, grading system, and test scores. Lee also provides samples of her sons’ completed transcripts (adapted, of course, for privacy!).
That’s the low-down on transcripts. I recommend Lee’s book for more detailed instructions on assigning grades, calculating high school credit, deciding on a grading scale, naming high school classes, and much more.