Transcript Tips

I. Formatting the Transcript

Each student’s high school transcript of home education will look a bit different.  The front of the transcript is the academic record.  You can format it as you like, but you should include some key information: Name of Student, Gender, Years of high school instruction, Address, Phone, Birthdate, Graduation Date, Supervisor, Courses taken & Grade /Grade Point/Units earned in each, grade point average, total units, standardized tests/dates/scores, attendance summary, grading scale used, supervisor’s signature.  You can also format a photo directly into the transcript rather than attach one with a paper clip.  On the back, list the importantextra-curricular activities, honors, leadership, volunteer work, awards, hobbies, employment, etc.

Don’t feel boxed in with certain courses at certain grade levels.  Instead of formatting the transcript by grade, you can format it by subject area, listing all the math courses in one group, the English courses, the Social Studies, the Sciences, the Foreign Languages, and then the other courses/electives in a final group. This is so helpful because it allows you to combine hours from various years into one course, if preferred. For instance, if your student participated in a journalism camp for two weeks (say, 50 hours total) the summer after 9th grade and then studied expository writing for a semester in 11th grade, and then took a Research Writing co-op course in 12th grade, you could, if you desire, combine all those hours into one course and name it as you please — “Practical Writing”, for instance.  We studied logical fallacies as a family, logic and critical thinking in a TG course in Chet’s early high school years, Critical Thinking in U.S. History lessons, and Chet participated in two intensive debate camps over two summers.  Thus, I combined those hours into an Intro to Logic and Debate course on his transcript.  This helped highlight some of Chet’s strengths.


II.  GPA Calculation

There are several free GPA calculators online, but this one allows  you to keep adding rows/courses as needed:

http://www.iastate.edu/~registrar/gpa-calc/gpaCalculator.html

Alternatively, you can calculate GPA by following these steps:

Write the course name and the grade received for each course taken.

Assign a numerical value to each grade earned as follows: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. This is the Grade Point.

Write in the number of Units earned for each course.

Multiple the Grade Point times the Units earned for each course to get the Extension.

Total the Units and Extensions.

Divide the total Extensions by the total Units to compute the GPA.

III.  Record-Keeping for College Admissions

Keep diligent records!…especially in grades 9-12.   Primarily record subjects, curriculum, hours of extra material or activities that relate, including special courses taken, guest speaker events attended, field trips, internships, volunteer hours. I found that keeping a spiral “Teacher Record Book” for each of my boys kept all the key information on their high school years in one place. This is so needful for organizing a transcript.  I kept the academic information in the front half of each book and the extra-curricular data in the back half, just like a transcript is formatted.

Besides the Transcript, keep a separate book/reading list in case the college is interested in reviewing this.  Homeschoolers tend to read lots of classics and a variety of literature and non-fiction, revealing something of the caliber of their education.

Additionally, keep a separate Course Description list in case a college admissions staff member requests the materials, curriculum, or projects that were part of a given subject/course.  Most colleges do not want this paperwork initially (their admissions departments get inundated with paperwork!), but having a summary on hand (at home) of what curriculum or special classes you included in each subject would be helpful if such clarification were to be requested by the college.  I usually updated this information each quarter when completing my quarterly reports.

As your student develops particular interests in areas of study and related colleges, pay close attention to the admissions requirements, such as the foreign language requirement.  Some schools do not count ancient languages, such as Latin, or alternative languages, such as Sign Language, as a “foreign language”; although the school may look favorably upon your student having had those studies in their curriculum, he or she may nonetheless need to complete 2-3 years of a foreign language before qualifying for admission.

Don’t double-dip.  If you count those 30 hours of historical literature as history, you cannot also count them as literature.  However, you may split the hours into 15 of each subject.

Don’t count literally everything your child does as academic (for course credit).  Colleges like to see well-rounded students who don’t get rewarded, with course credit for instance, for volunteering or doing a hobby.  On the other hand, don’t discount the wonderful opportunities he or she has had— you might want to consider some of that robotics as science, or some of that help with a parent’s business as learning bookkeeping skills/business math.  Don’t double-dip academic credit and extra-curricular hours.  An hour of volunteer hospital work is either an hour of health or an hour of extra-curricular volunteer work, but not both.

Feel free to use TG course hours as appropriate in certain subjects.  Nathan participated in Literature clubs on some classic tales from Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Shakespeare at the TG during his high school years, so I included those hours in his English Literature studies.

Students should begin keeping a resume during their high school years, updating it periodically.  This is not only helpful for job applications, but also for providing an extra-curricular record for the back of the high school transcript.  (Please see Teen Resume tips below.)

IV.  Personalizing the Transcript

Read over your first draft of a transcript to see that it really reflects WHO your child is.  Does it emphasize his strengths and interests?  You want the college to be a good fit, so you need to present both a candid and positive appraisal of his or her high school years and academic caliber.

Don’t feel that your program is second-rate just because you homeschool!!  You are giving your child LOTS of tutoring, opportunities, and purpose/perspective – all so important to a true education.  You can be proud of his/her home education diploma (HSLDA, by the way, sells these for you to complete) and transcript.  We certainly don’t “wish” that our sons had any other school’s paperwork because that would mean it was that school’s preferences for instruction and curriculum and literature and worldview!…If we wanted that, we could have sent them to local schools.  We didn’t want those programs, and that’s why we homeschool.  Don’t forget that conviction when it comes time to format the details of your child’s education on official paperwork!

Be sure the overall appearance of the Transcript is professional, neat, and provides a proper summary of your students’ academic work in grades 9-12 on the front and summary of non-academic activities during those same years on the back.   Use a readable font.

V.  Updating the Transcript

Your student will need to submit a transcript with each of his/her college applications in fall or winter of senior year.  Since these are understandably incomplete, the school that your student finally selects will require he/she send afinal transcript after graduation from home education.  Be prepared to update the transcript in June, and mail it promptly to the college admissions office.