Do I really need a service to create a homeschool transcript?

That’s a question we’ve heard time and time again, particularly from homeschool families just entering the busy high school years. And you know what? It’s a great thing to ask.

The quick answer might surprise you: No, you don’t need a service to build a homeschool transcript. But having a service will make your life much easier in the end. So, taking that step might very well be worth it.

Here’s the bottom line: You’re definitely capable of designing a transcript by hand, using Excel or Google Sheets. It’s a tedious process, sure, and you’ll have to leverage your artistic skills to make the final product look good. But it can be done. It just takes some extra effort. Another option is to purchase a ready-made template, but these tend to be out-of-date with the latest college and university requirements.

While going it alone is always an option, homeschool families tend to end up with a subpar results when they do. That’s the story we’ve frequently seen with transcripts built using these basic tools.

I wanted to take just a moment of your time today to share several reasons why I’d advise against trying the solo route when it comes to making a homeschool transcript.

1. You’ll waste time

Which would you rather do—spend four hours of your time building a homeschool transcript or four fours doing … well, something you’d actually like to do?

There’s no way around it: Building a transcript from scratch requires a huge time commitment. Organizing courses, calculating weighted and unweighted GPA, figuring credit hours, writing course descriptions, and deciding where to put extracurricular activities. And that’s just the starting point. Forget about the time commitment of designing the transcript and making it look pretty.

A service saves you hours upon hours of time you’d probably rather spend elsewhere.

2. You might lose or misplace valuable information

Keeping track of all the information needed for a transcript can be a daunting task. When you go it alone building a transcript, keeping track of all that data is quite the chore. But with a service, your data is always at your fingertips.

Here’s an added bonus of a service like Transcript Maker: Your transcripts are stored securely in the cloud, so you never have to worry about your information being lost or deleted. Your transcripts go anywhere you go—even if you don’t have your computer with you. What’s more, you can access your transcripts using a phone or tablet in addition to your laptop or desktop.

3. Your transcript might look unprofessional

It’s easy to let small things like aesthetics slip when you’re working up a transcript from scratch. As with a resume, professional formatting plays an important role in how admissions departments view your student’s transcript.

With a service like Transcript Maker, everything is automatically formatted professionally, and you can include custom features like unique footers or a custom logo or watermark.

Now, aesthetics aren’t everything. The core of your student’s transcript—their grades and performance—are what matters most. But getting the right look for your transcript is key to communicating a professional, ready-for-college vibe to admissions officers.

4. You might make small mistakes

If you’ve worked much with spreadsheets, you know how easy it is to let errors slip in. Unfortunately, mistakes can end up being huge roadblocks to a professional homeschool transcript.

Many times, mistakes sneak by in confusing areas like weighted vs. unweighted GPA. With an online service, all those numbers are automatically crunched for you. Saying goodbye to small errors like this can be a huge relief.

5. You won’t be able to collaborate as easily with others

Creating transcripts through a spreadsheet probably means that you’re storing everything on your computer’s hard drive, making collaboration that much harder.

Say you want to work jointly with your high-school student on her transcript. A cloud-based service (again, like Transcript Maker) allows you to have multiple users on the same account. You can even set permissions to control what they can and can’t do.

This is another great way to involve your homeschool student and help her take ownership of her college career.

6. You won’t have support from people who have been there, done that

Building a strong transcript is one of the most intimidating parts of homeschooling through high school. Why? Simply because it keys into that fear of every homeschool parent: Will my kids be able to get into the college of their choice as homeschool graduates?

We all know in our gut the answer is probably yes, but navigating the details (like transcripts) can be a recipe for heartburn. But if you’re using a service that’s worth its salt, you’ll have access to customer support and a knowledge base to guide you.

Wrapping up

Can you make a transcript on your own? Sure! But I don’t recommend it. Having a transcript service is particularly useful if you’re creating more than one transcript—and, let’s face, it that applies to most homeschool families, who tend to have lots of kiddos around!

Look, I’d obviously love for you to give Transcript Maker a try (a 14-day free trial is available). But more than anything, I want you to take the approach that works best for your family and your students. So, if anyone on our team can be of help, feel free to reach out. We’d love to offer a helping hand.

You might also find our eBook useful: The Ultimate Guide Homeschool Guide to Creating a High School Transcript. You can download a free chapter here.