By now you’ve probably heard about the massive college admissions scandal earlier this year involving at least 51 people—including 33 wealthy parents of college applicants—who conspired to criminally influence the admissions process and secure places in prestigious universities for their children.
Caught up in the web of deception were well-known actresses like Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) and Lori Laughlin (Full House), along with fashion designer Mossimo Gianulli.
All told, the ringleader of the scheme, William Rick Singer, admitted to using fraudulent practices—including fabricating sports activities—to facilitate admission in elite universities for the children of more than 750 families between 2011 and 2018.
While the vast majority of homeschool parents would never consider lying to help their child get into choice college, the temptation to embellish or enhance a transcript, extracurricular activity, sporting achievement, or volunteer project is still real.
Also real is the fact that there are many unintentional mistakes that can easily occur in creating a homeschool transcript and college application package that fall into the realm of being unethical—and could result in expulsion from college or future job loss if the mistake comes to light.
To help you avoid making unethical mistakes on your student’s transcript, here are 8 tips to keep things on the up and up:
1. Honesty is the best policy
Let’s face it—pulling together a homeschool transcript can be daunting. And when parents fail to keep track of the details that make up a professional transcript, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and start fudging numbers, guesstimating hours, or inaccurately describing courses.
The good news is that we’re here to help you do everything you need to do to develop the best possible transcript that accurately reflects your student’s body of work during high school—and keep you honest along the way.
2. Keep good records
Regardless of which state you live in, it’s crucial that homeschool parents keep detailed records for their child’s high school years. This includes attendance logs, details of each year’s completed work, lists of course curricula, transcripts of dual-enrollment courses taken, exam details such as date taken and score, and lists of community service and extracurricular activities.
To the degree that you stay on top of these important records and gather more information than you need, the more accurate—and competitive—your student’s transcript will be.
3. Get started sooner rather than later
Procrastination is the enemy of success. And just as putting off to tomorrow what you can do today is worse than previously thought for college students, homeschool parents do their children no favors by procrastinating on their high school transcript. A powerful app like Transcript Maker can be a big time saver—and greatly reduce stress and improve memory recall, which makes for a more accurate transcript.
4. Use correct terminology for courses
With all the balls that homeschool parents juggle on a daily basis, it’s sometimes hard to think in terms used by public school administrators and college admissions officers. For example, if your student gets a Physical Education credit for taking a daily walk, don’t call it Daily Walking. Instead, call it Fitness Walking or Personal Fitness.
It’s helpful to look at the course descriptions on your local public high school website to make sure you’re in sync with the most widely accepted terms used today in college admissions.
5. Know how to award course credits
Learning how to correctly award credits for your student’s coursework is key because including too many won’t help—and could even hurt. For example, a typical high school transcript has 24 credits. So for students who have completed a lot of coursework or taken a number of dual-enrollment courses, it’s best to consolidate two or more similar courses into one.
Beyond this, you need to know how to correctly identify course titles and groupings—and then assign the appropriate credit hours. To help you get this crucial part of the transcript right, we cover these important topics in detail here.
6. Write good course descriptions
One of the most overlooked—but important—parts of a great homeschool transcript is the course description. But because home schools often don’t approach course descriptions in a uniform way like public or private schools, college admissions officers may not know what a course titled “Introduction to American History” actually covers.
This is where more detail is needed to explain what a student learned and how he was evaluated. Moreover, good course descriptions help explain and justify an “honors” ranking for a particular course—and clarify courses taken through dual enrollment, with a tutor, or through a co-op.
7. Learn how to correctly calculate Grade Point Average (GPA)
In the eyes of college admissions officers, GPA often carries the most weight on a high school transcript. But for homeschool parents, calculating GPA is one of the trickiest parts of creating a transcript. But not to worry—we walk you through the two-step process here for getting your student’s GPA right, including which scale to use and proper weighting.
8. Don’t exaggerate extracurricular activities
Nowadays, colleges put a lot of weight on activities beyond the classroom. From music and theater to sports, community service, and volunteer projects, it can be easy for proud parents to overstate or embellish extracurricular activities, accomplishments, and awards to make their child stand out. And while it may not seem like a big deal to credit your son with a 4:30 mile when in fact he ran a 4:35, minor exaggerations can come back to haunt. Just don’t do it.
Of course, most homeschool parents don’t set out to lie about their student’s high school record. Nor do they seek to be unethical in creating a transcript. But by keeping these 8 tips in mind for avoiding ethical mistakes on transcripts, you can feel good about the integrity of your student’s college application package.