5 ways to ruin your high school transcript

By |2018-07-10T18:17:53+00:00July 21st, 2016|Advice, General Interest, Transcripts 101|

Creating a professional, high-quality transcript is one the most important steps you can take toward being accepted by your top-choice college. But during our years of experience helping homeschool families and private schools navigate the do’s and don’ts of great transcripts, we’ve encountered a few common errors, omissions, and straight-up faux pas that always spell trouble for a transcript’s success. Here’s the list!

1. Putting too many extra-curricular activities on your transcript

Demonstrating a well-rounded education is crucial, of course, but beware of including too much of a good thing. Some parents and students will put as many as 30 extra-curricular activities on a high school transcript. Simply put, you don’t need that many! If a student has a wide range of extra-curricular activities, handpick the ones most powerful and convincing, and leave the others off. It’s helpful to remember that quality is more important than quantity here.

2. Faking or exaggerating grades for courses

It’s always the best policy to be accurate and truthful in reporting grades on high school transcripts. “Fake it ‘til you make it” won’t work! Avoid stretching the truth by faking a grade or slightly “nudging” a grade higher in order to make a transcript look better. This includes exaggerating standardized test scores as well. Honesty and integrity are always the right choice.

3. Printing a transcript on cheap paper or with a low-ink cartridge

When you’ve successfully created a professional transcript, it’s no time to go cheap on printing. We’ve seen some well-designed transcripts lose most of their appeal by being printed on cheap paper or with a low-ink printer cartridge. It’s worth the investment to print a transcript on quality paper (we recommend card stock or heavy paper) with rich, bold ink. Don’t let a few dollars be the difference between a ho-hum transcript and an awesome one.

4. General sloppiness, including formatting or spelling errors

We’ll make a long story short—avoid any approach that looks like you produced a transcript using cheap spreadsheet software in less than 5 minutes! Always check that your transcript is well-formatted and free of spelling errors. Often, it’s the small things that make all the difference in a professional presentation.

5. Waiting until the 11th hour to create your transcript

Applying to colleges is a lengthy, complicated, and (often) frustrating task. Make it easier by planning well in advance. It’s best to begin thinking about a high school transcript during a student’s freshman year. At the very least, beginning a transcript the summer between the junior and senior year is a wise idea. Continue updating details throughout the school year, and have the formatting and structure in place.


Avoiding these common pitfalls is easier than you think. Transcript Maker has the best tools to make the process easy and fun. Try a FREE 14-day trial right now or select from one of our subscription plans.

About the Author:

Content marketer, author, and homeschool graduate.


  1. Jodi Carless August 31, 2016 at 11:41 am - Reply


    Does this work well with Classical Conversations (CC)? Are you familiar with CC? I need to make my daughter’s transcript look more professional so I am considering using your company



    • Matthew Bass September 2, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi Jodi!

      Yes, Transcript Maker is very flexible and can accommodate a wide variety of teaching methods including classical education. The best way to find out if it’s right for you is to sign up for a free 14 day trial here:


      If you have trouble figuring something out, or need Transcript Maker to do something that it doesn’t currently do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by email or phone. We can usually make adjustments for you.


      Thanks for your interest!


  2. Amy October 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Could you elaborate on point #1 with extra curriculars? I’m working on my son’s transcript right now and 28 items for activities & honors. Is that too many? We’ve got a variety of items, but maybe I need to pare back on this. Is there a way to use your program & separate activities & honors into separate blocks?

    • Matthew Bass December 13, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      Hi Amy! Thanks for your questions. 28 activities does seem like too many to me. If you can, pare down the list by eliminating or combining activities. I’d try to get it down to 15 or less. Pick the activities that best seem to reflect your student’s extra-curricular experience and drop the others.

      Regarding using distinct blocks for activities and honors in Transcript Maker, you can do this by changing the name of the existing activities/honors block to “Activities” and changing the name of the notes block to “Honors” in settings. You would essentially be re-purposing the notes section to enter honors.

      If you need help doing this, feel free to drop us an email at support@transcriptmaker.com and we’d be happy to walk you through it.

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