Creating a high school transcript is stressful for any homeschool parent. You want to do the best job you can so that your student can get into the college of his or her dreams.
But here’s the thing: You have to think like a school administrator and a college admissions officer. That’s asking a lot of a proud parent.
It’s always a good idea to learn from the mistakes of others who have been there, done that. I’ve been a homeschool mom for over 25 years and successfully graduated five children. In this blog post, I’ll share 7 lessons I learned during the challenging process of creating homeschool transcripts on the first go-round. Here they are!
Mistake #1: Not keeping good records
Regardless of where you homeschool in the United States, it’s crucial to keep detailed records when it comes to high school. It’s better to have more information than you might need. Keep the following elements:
- Each year’s completed work
- An attendance log
- A list of community service activities and extracurricular activities
- A list of the curriculum you used for each course
- Transcripts of any dual-enrollment courses taken
- Exams taken (what kind of exam, date taken, and score)
Follow my advice and you’ll be thankful when you sit down to create your student’s homeschool transcript.
Mistake #2: Not getting started sooner
The time to do your child’s transcript is well before the deadline to turn it in with a college application. While a powerful app like Transcript Maker can be a big time saver, you still need enough time to be thorough. Allowing a month or longer to work on a transcript is a good idea.
Mistake #3: Not using school terminology for courses and subjects
Homeschool parents sometimes find it hard to think in administrative terms. If you give your child a Physical Education credit for taking a daily walk, don’t call it Daily Walking. Instead, call it Fitness Walking or Personal Fitness.
If you find it difficult to know what to call a course, take a look at the course descriptions on the website for your local public high school. These descriptions will be ones that colleges are accustomed to seeing.
Mistake #4: Awarding too many credits
A typical high school transcript has between 22 and 26 credits. Including more credits doesn’t benefit your student. If your student has completed a lot of coursework, it’s a good idea to consolidate two or more similar courses into one.
For example, if your student learned to balance a checking account, paid bills online, prepared family meals, learned about nutrition, and took a Red Cross babysitting course as a freshman, then you could award one credit for Family & Consumer Science rather than award a credit for each activity.
Another pitfall is to award too many credits for dual-enrollment courses. Even though these courses might count as three credit hours for college, you should still only award one credit hour each for high school.
Mistake #5: Listing too many activities and honors
Every parent thinks their kids are special, but we need to be choosy when it comes to listing activities and honors on a transcript. It’s better to spotlight your child’s unique accomplishments rather than list every achievement since kindergarten. Keep the list focused on high school only.
Mistake #6: Listing the curriculum you used on the transcript
Unless your child is going into the military, it isn’t necessary or helpful to list the curriculum you used on their transcript. The college admissions staff probably isn’t going to know about Apologia or Saxon.
The important information to list in your brief course description should be information like Biology With Labs, English III-American Literature, or Algebra 1. A college will look at your child’s transcript to see if he or she took the right courses in preparation for college-level coursework.
Mistake #7: Style, spelling, and typos
It’s important to be consistent in style when you are creating your transcript. Use just one font to keep your transcript neat and tidy. Capitalize the names of the courses and subjects.
I didn’t capitalize all of the courses and subjects on my first transcript. Thankfully, I was able to correct it before it had to be sent to anyone.
If you are not certain how to spell something, consult a dictionary. Nothing looks so bad as an official document with misspellings. Enlist the help of a friend to look over your transcript for typos and other errors.
Well, now that you know what mistakes to avoid when creating your transcript, pour yourself a cup of tea and get started!
While you can create a transcript using an Excel spreadsheet, I highly recommend finding an app (like Transcript Maker) that calculates weighted and unweighted GPA, offers a variety of grading scales, is easy to customize, and provides online and phone support.
Then all you have to do is concentrate on making a great transcript for your outstanding student.