We’ve all faced that dreaded situation: You have to complete a project, but you’re stuck looking at the proverbial blank sheet of paper, not sure where to start. It’s easy to slip into that pattern when it comes time to create a homeschool transcript, too.
Sometimes, the intimidating part is knowing where to even begin. (If that’s you, get started at our help center or with our eBook). But other times, it’s just the daunting task of knowing where we need to ultimately go.
It can be a long slog to wrap up a successful homeschool transcript. Putting all the pieces together can be a chore, and it can be easy to struggle with keeping pace and completing the project.
If that sounds familiar, never fear! We’ve drawn from our 10+ years of knowledge working with homeschool families to create transcripts to give you some tips to get (and stay) motivated during the journey. Here they are.
1. Define your goals
As with most things in life, it pays to do a little planning before you start creating a transcript. Think through the elements you want to highlight the most. A lot of that depends on the colleges your student is targeting.
For example, you might choose to draw attention to extracurricular service and ministry projects when applying to a faith-based school, versus emphasizing the academics more with a state school. Having the end-goal in mind before you even begin will help kickstart the project.
2. Break the process into small chunks
If you’re intimidated by all that goes into building a transcript, dividing it up into bite-sized tasks can be a big stress reliever. You might divvy things up with a bullet list like this:
- Calculate GPA
- Write course descriptions
- List activities and honors
- Calculate and list credits
- Print and proofread
Breaking a big project into smaller chunks helps you avoid distraction. When you can’t see the end in sight, it’s easy to get sidetracked. But by checking off small, manageable goals, you’ll get the feeling of accomplishment that will keep you moving forward.
3. Focus on one task at a time
Relatedly, try to finish one task before you move on to the next. As tempting as it may be to multi-task, we now know that single-task focus is the most effective way to get things done. This one step alone can dramatically reduce the time spent making a transcript—not to mention the frustration factor!
4. Keep your records organized
Start early with good record keeping. While some states don’t require homeschool families to maintain records, they can come in handy when it’s time to build a transcript. What’s more, solid records gives you valuable backup in case a college or university wants to see materials to justify what’s on your student’s transcript. Check out our seven tips for great record keeping.
5. Use a project management tool
Personally, I’m not sure where I’d be in my work life without a project management resource. My personal favorite is Trello, which is a free download. It’s also the tool the Transcript Maker team uses to keep on top of our priorities. If you don’t want to use a tool on your computer, even something as simple as a pin board where you put post-it notes is a good idea.
Creating some sort of project management workflow is particularly useful tip if you’re dealing with multiple transcripts at once—and a lot of homeschool families are!
6. Set a deadline
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by,” said English author and humorist Douglas Adams. While it can indeed be challenging to stick to deadlines, they provide strong built-in accountability.
A lot of homeschool families begin working on transcripts during the late winter, spring, and early summer months. Try setting a deadline of, say, mid-May to get your transcripts ready for college admissions departments.
7. Get help with the parts you don’t understand
A lot of times, the roadblock to getting a transcript wrapped up is simply because you don’t know how to solve a particularly thorny problem. In those cases, don’t be afraid to check in with experts who know exactly how to work things.
8. Use the right tool for the job
Of course, one of the best ways to stay motivated creating a homeschool transcript is to use a tool like Transcript Maker to do the heavy lifting for you. You can say bye-bye to cumbersome or burdensome tasks like calculating weighted vs. unweighted GPA by hand, tracking pending or in progress courses, figuring out how to track and list AP and honors courses, and so much more. Try a 14-day free trial right now.