Creating a high school transcript for your homeschooled student is a quick and simple process. A high school transcript is a one page summary of your student’s academic achievements. Communicate clearly by keeping it simple and straightforward. While you have freedom to create an individualized homeschool program, a transcript that looks as much like a public school transcript as possible will be easily understood by others. Once you understand a few facts about a high school transcript you can easily create one for your student.
Who you are creating a high school transcript for
A transcript is the piece of paper that you, the homeschool parent and school “administrator”, will provide to other institutions as a summary of your student’s work. When your child applies to college you submit the transcript to the admissions office and they will use it to determine if your child is eligible to attend the school. Once your child is admitted, the transcript is also provided to your child’s academic advisor so that they can place your child in the appropriate college classes. The transcript communicates to others what your child has learned.
Whether your child is considering college, trade school, the military or other options, every student needs a high school transcript. Even if right now you don’t think your child needs one, I recommend you go ahead and make the transcript while you remember all the information. Then, if your child changes their mind later, you have a transcript ready to go.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not creating a transcript to give to your child. This is not a fun and quirky way of remembering your years together. You can certainly create something like that, you can even call it a transcript if you like, but do not give it to anyone in an official capacity asking for a transcript.
Create a standard transcript
When you create a high school transcript give administrators exactly what they expect to see. I recommend you use a template (see below) and fill it in exactly as suggested. Make your homeschool transcript look like a standard high school transcript.
As homeschoolers we have an enormous number of options for curriculum and teaching styles. You may be very proud of the way you decided to homeschool your children. The transcript is not the place to showcase that. You shouldn’t give any indication of whether you used a traditional curriculum, a Charlotte Mason approach, or a Classical program. You won’t list publishers. For example, you won’t say Saxon Algebra 2. You will simply list Algebra 2. The transcript should be understandable even by someone completely unfamiliar with homeschooling.
A transcript is not an opportunity to showcase your creativity. Do not worry about adding beautiful fonts, images, or drawings. You are not including samples of your child’s art work. This is not a portfolio. A transcript is boring and nondescript. Keep it that way so that the relevant information is easily seen by the professional asking for the transcript.
Do not add creative content to the transcript
Every transcript requires only a few components. If you try to add creative descriptions of your homeschool it will only detract from the real purpose of the transcript.
I recently heard Todd Wilson, The Familyman, speak. He described writing a school transcript for his homeschool graduates. It included ordinary school days, lunch dates, and ended with the number of hours redeemed from the public schools. When I thought about my homeschool graduates it made me cry. I decided right then to create one for my own kids – but I haven’t. Yet. Homeschooling is so sweet.But that is not an official transcript.
You may have raised a great novelist, an exceptional cook, a fine woodworker, a masterful computer coder, a confident public speaker, or a godly child. This may be one of the key reasons you decided to homeschool. However, that all stays off the transcript unless you can describe it in terms of a standard high school class.
Creating a transcript is quick and easy
The process of actually filling in the high school transcript can be finished in just a few minutes each year. So when I tell you that every child needs a transcript, this is something every parent can do. It’s not hard.
The hardest part is deciding on a course of study for your child’s high school years, which I’ll address in other posts. That is a big topic. Ideally you will give this a lot of thought in eighth grade, then make small adjustments as the high school years progress. But when it is transcript time, you take all the courses your child has studied and condense them into simple course descriptions. English 9. Algebra 2. American Government. That renaming process should only take you a minute.
Next, the transcript includes grades. You can create a grading rubric or use the suggestions of your curriculum publisher. I wrote a post on Giving High School Grades. Once you have decided how to grade, plugging the grades into the transcript takes seconds.
So all your hard work is done first, then when you create your transcript use a template and it will be easy.
Use a template to create your transcript
A transcript should be simple and easy to read. Our goal was to have a transcript that in appearance was as much like a public school transcript as possible. So we searched the internet and found a template that looked right. We chose a transcript that lists courses by the year, rather than by subject area, because that is the most common type of transcript. We have used the same template with three children so we save even more time.
You can design your own. Just make sure it follows the basic format of the templates I have provided links to. But there is no need to put in that much work when someone else has done it for you and is freely sharing it.
Not every template meets our expectations. Here are links to several good choices:
- This one looks like ours.
- Patrick Henry College has provided both a blank template and a sample of a completed transcript. Scroll down to the “Recordkeeping” section.
- HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) has a page with seven different transcript options.
HSLDA also has a transcript service. I checked and it costs $16. That’s pretty affordable. The reason it is so affordable is that creating the transcript is super quick and easy. Even HSLDA will expect you to provide course titles, and grades. So save money by using a template and making your own transcript. You might even save time over sending all the information to somebody else and having them send it back. But if you are feeling nervous and don’t trust me, I am sure HSLDA will do a great job.
Make sure the transcript is correct
First of all, be sure the transcript is an honest record of your child’s high school academic record. It is one thing to assign a course title like “English 9” to all the different components that made up your ninth grade English course like: literature, essays, editing, and grammar. It is quite another thing to lie and have your child read three books that you call a high school English course. In addition, if your child goes to college an honest transcript will ensure they end up at the right school and in the right classes.
Second, proof read the transcript. The transcript is one page, just a few words. So take a couple minutes to look over it and make sure there are no spelling errors or typos. Create a professional looking transcript.
Seven components of a high school transcript
- Student and school information. This is your child’s name, birthday, address, email address, etc. Then list the school address, etc. These are the same addresses – that’s okay! You homeschool. Officials don’t need to know everywhere you’ve ever lived. Just your current address.
- Dates. Include the school years when the courses were completed and a graduation date.
- Course titles. This is where you take all your planning work and condense it into a simple course name. The course names you choose should be similar to what public high schools use. All of the core academic classes (english, math, science, etc.) are simple. You can be a little more creative with classes that would be considered electives. And, yes, we always include Bible classes on the transcript.
- Next list the course credits. Each year long course should be worth one credit. A semester long course, or a year long course that requires less work, should be half a credit. A high school math book is clearly designed to be used all year and therefore is a one credit class. Some of your books will not be as clear. For example, my son completed a logic course and I didn’t know if it should count as one credit or a half credit. I checked the front of the teachers manual, and couldn’t find my answer. Next I checked the publisher’s website and there was the information I needed: they considered it a half credit class. We worked on the book all year, but I counted it as half a credit. If you’re not using a curriculum, 150 hours should be the minimum for a one credit class. If your child spends about an hour a day completing all the material you have pulled together for a history course, that is a one credit class.
- Now you record the grade your child received in each course. Patrick Henry lists numerical grades and includes a grading scale at the bottom of the transcript. Most public high schools do not list grades that way and some websites I checked suggest not including a grading scale on the transcript. We list letter grades on the transcript. We use a 10 point grading scale (that we keep in our heads), but none of the colleges we have applied to have asked for our grading scale or a numerical grade for the classes. As long as you understand all the variables it will be easy to work with the administrators reading the transcript. Your goal is to give people what they’re looking for.
- Calculate your child’s GPA. Check out the GPA calculator here, and read the “How to Calculate GPA” tab. Calculating a GPA is just basic multiplication and division, and once you know how to do it it will only take you a couple minutes. We don’t use a weighted GPA because I refuse to inflate my kids’ grades. You will need to calculate both semester and cumulative GPA’s.
- Last of all, when your child has graduated, breathe a sigh of relief, and sign your name.
Creating a high school transcript is quick and easy if you use a template and keep it simple. Honestly, reading this article may take longer than finishing the transcript for the year. Remember, your goal is to give any official looking at the transcript a clear evaluation of your child’s academic performance in a standard format that the official is accustomed to.