21 ways to instantly improve your high school transcript

When it comes to making a great high school transcript, getting all your ducks in a row can be overwhelming. So wouldn’t it be nice to have a checklist of ways to give your transcript a quick boost?

Well, we’ve got some good news—we’re sharing one today! Our 21 tips should make your task of building a transcript just a little bit easier. Here they are:

1. Consistently name your subjects and courses

Keeping your course names consistent and simple is best for the college admissions process; universities and community colleges want an idea of the curriculum your student followed, since homeschooling doesn’t have the same uniform approach as traditional public school. Naming classes something like “Algebra II” or “Computer Programming” is your best bet.

2. Add straightforward, detailed course descriptions

Course descriptions provide admissions officers with the additional information they need to get a feel for the subjects your student has studied and mastered. Each course description should contain the school name, teacher name, course type (dual enrollment, AP, honors, etc.), hours of credit earned, materials used, overview of the course, and methodology and grade evaluation. Descriptions are best included as a separate attachment alongside your student’s transcript.

3. Include annual and cumulative GPAs

Adding your student’s grade point average to his or her homeschool high school transcript is a great way to give admissions officers easy, at-a-glance access to your student’s academic abilities. Providing that additional information saves them time and effort when it comes to reviewing your student’s application packet.

4. Keep your list of extracurricular activities short and focused

While it might seem appealing for your student to list every extracurricular activity he or she has been involved in, every activity doesn’t belong on a transcript. Take a look at the colleges he or she is applying to, then think about how best to tailor those activities to the specific college. Your student might need more than one version of their transcript, with activities tailored toward their different schools of choice.

5. Count all high school-level material

Did your student take high school-level math during junior high? Count it on the transcript! It’s not unusual for homeschool students to be advanced in one or more subjects, so any course that’s considered high school-level is fair game.

6. Check and clean up social media accounts

Your student’s social media accounts are peripheral to his or her transcript, and can have a direct impact on how colleges perceive him or her. Your student should remove questionable material, only engage in positive communication about his or her schools of choice, post material that presents him or her in a well-rounded light, tighten up privacy settings, and present an authentic face to the world.

The Ultimate Homeschool Guide to Creating a High School Transcript

7. Create a portfolio of photos and videos

Your student may compile photos and videos in a separate portfolio that document some key points in his or her high school years. It never hurts to provide visual references for the activities and academic pursuits your student has been involved in. While these won’t go on your student’s transcript, they’ll be a great companion to it.

8. Include seasonal jobs

If your student gets a summer job, including it on his or her transcript will give admissions officers a glimpse into your student’s work ethic. Drive and self-discipline, traits that are required to successfully perform on the job and are directly related to academic success, are highly desirable in incoming university freshmen.

9. List volunteer work

If finding a paying job has been a challenge for your student, volunteering can give his or her transcript a similar boost. Unpaid internships, tutoring children in summer academic programs, and working at a local homeless shelter are just a few of the opportunities your student can choose from.

10. Include dual enrollment courses and CLEP tests

Dual enrollment courses are a fantastic transcript boost because they show college admissions officers that your student is ready for college-level classes. College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams also demonstrate your student’s mastery of college-level subject matter.

11. Include course sources

Notating the origin of the courses on your student’s transcript could give it added validation. Be sure to add a footnote or a small note in the description if a particular listing was a community college course, online class, etc.

12. List summer college terms

Has your student participated in a summer college enrichment program? Students with specialized interests in areas like architecture, photography, and the arts might find that taking and including these courses is particularly helpful when it’s time to apply for their colleges of choice.

13. Include international travel or mission trips

Traveling abroad, either for vacation or missions work, appeals to college admissions officers because it shows that your student is adaptable, resilient, and willing to get out of his or her comfort zone. Missions work also demonstrates your student’s capacity for empathy and compassion.

14. List books completed from college reading lists

Most colleges have recommended reading lists they suggest their students work through. Your student should research the reading lists from the colleges he or she wishes to apply to; any of the recommended books your student reads may be included on the transcript. If your student has already covered some of the reading material, include it—you’re a step ahead.

15. Create and include a LinkedIn profile

A LinkedIn profile can help your student make a polished, professional impression on college admissions officers. Including a link to your student’s LinkedIn profile would look great alongside his or her work history, whether the work was paid or volunteer.

16. Create a folder of completion certificates

Your student should file all certificates of completion from various certification programs and courses as a resource peripheral to her or her transcript. In the event that college admissions officers want to see something more tangible than the transcript document alone, the ability to produce these (if requested) will be invaluable.

17. Tackle and complete major projects

Has your student written a book, started a small business, or learned a foreign language? Participated in community theatre, earned the highest scout rank in their local organization, or completed projects for 4-H or FHA? Any major undertaking your student pursues and accomplishes during the school semester or summer break may be included.

18. Format correctly

In order to make the best possible impression on your student’s colleges of choice, you’ll want to make sure your student’s transcript is formatted correctly and looks neat, clean, and organized. If you’re not tech-savvy, ask for help or utilize a service like Transcript Maker to easily create a professional-quality transcript.

19. Proofread everything

Great formatting is no good if your student’s transcript is full of typos. Proofread the document more than once, combing carefully through it to catch as many errors as possible. If you need to, pay a professional proofreader to scour it thoroughly.

20. Print your transcript on cardstock or heavy paper

Don’t use flimsy printer paper for the masterpiece of a transcript you and your student have been working so hard to create; make sure it’s printed on durable, beautiful paper to round out the impression you want to make on your student’s colleges of choice. Admissions officers sift through hundreds of transcripts a day; help your student’s stand out from the crowd.

21. Avoid GPA headaches by using an app

Apps like Transcript Maker can take the frustration and confusion out of calculating your student’s GPA. Using an app is also a preventive measure; its built-in calculations will mean lower chances of making a mistake when determining GPA.

The bottom line

There are tons of quick ways your student can boost his or her transcript. You don’t have to apply them all, but choosing even a few, then taking action, will give your student’s transcript the extra “oomph” it will need when it hits the admissions officer’s desk.


Haley Walden is a freelance copywriter/editor who collaborates with creative entrepreneurs, authors, and agencies to strengthen and clarify their brand stories through engaging website copy, blog posts, marketing copy, and more. She is a geek at heart with a love for books, music, movies, theatre, and all things Star Wars. Haley lives in northwest Alabama with her husband and two children and is currently drafting her first epic fantasy novel. Connect with her at haleywalden.ninja.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *