Overview: You can create an impressive homeschool transcript once you know a few pieces of vital information. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be!
You wake up out of a sound sleep—heart pounding, adrenaline rushing, hot flash, well, flashing.
Your anxiety-laden subconscious has been stewing about that dreaded homeschool transcript again.
Once started, you churn ’til morning: Will the transcript you create wield the same magical power as a public school version to get your teen into college? Will you leave out something important? Or worse, will it take longer to put together than it took your teen to slog through Algebra?
You are not alone. When I asked my Facebook group to name their greatest worry about homeschooling high school, transcripts came out near the top.
Enough of this dread and despair—in this post I will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know to make a high school transcript that will impress colleges.
And as you might know by now (if you’ve been with me for any length of time), I will distill all of the difficulty out and leave you with a simple solution that does the job without the muss and fuss of unnecessary fluff.
I will even offer a fill-in template for you to purchase and download to make this process as quick and painless as possible.
In fact, you’ll be sleeping through the night again before you know it!
Let’s get started. (Maybe pinning this for future reference is a good idea. You know the drill.)
A homeschool transcript has these main components (and nothing more):
1) a list of the high school courses that your child has taken,
2) the grade earned for each course,
3) the credits given for each course,
4) GPA’s for each year and overall,
5) a graduation date (or projected graduation date, for seniors still in school),
6) Student and school information (student name, birthdate and/or social security number; school name & address), and
7) a signature (yours).
(I know this seems like a long list, but only the first four take any kind of effort to pull together. And if you’ve been staying on top of grading, then even they are just a matter of inputting data, as well.)
The public high schools don’t make ’em any differently than this, y’all. Doing a Google image search will bring up myriads of samples of public school transcripts, if you want to see for yourself. 🙂
Just to be sure I wouldn’t be steering you wrong, I browsed the interwebs for an authoritative list of all the information that is absolutely REQUIRED on a high school transcript. And—no surprise—I found varying recommendations. Which confirms for me that the only absolute necessities are what I already listed above.
All other information, such as standardized test scores, extra-curricular activities, etc. is OPTIONAL.
And therefore unnecessary, in my book. That type of information will be entered on the application itself, so there is no need to replicate it on the transcript. The transcript is not supposed to be a resumé of everything your kid is; it is only supposed to represent their actual academic work.
Admissions people are looking for something easy to follow and quickly read. Think “uncluttered” and “white space.” So I advise that you NOT muddle the transcript with any information other than what I’ve listed above, if you want colleges to give your transcript the attention your kid deserves.
Social security number is also optional, as long as you have a birthdate as identifying information on there, just so that the colleges can easily compile their paperwork and keep your “John Smith” separate from every other samey-namey who has applied.
Do you need a grading scale on a homeschool transcript?
That is up to you. I didn’t include one on my kids’ transcripts, and there was no issue with any of them.
However, if you are using an atypical scale (other than 90-100 for an A, 80-89 for a B, etc.), then you might want to include the grading scale on your transcript. I personally don’t see an advantage to using a scale other than the traditional one—remember, I’m all about making it EASY—but you do YOU. 🙂
What about course descriptions?
NOPE. These are NOT part of a homeschool transcript. Course descriptions are a completely separate document, and often they are not required AT ALL. So don’t get worried about those, now, just because I brought them up.
BUT of course (LOL see what I did there?) you are, because we get concerned about just about every aspect of this college application thing and want to be sure we are doing it all correctly… No worries; I’ve got your back! You can read everything you need to know about course descriptions here: The Complete Guide to Homeschool High School Course Descriptions: with downloadable swipe file!
What’s the difference between a homeschool transcript and a homeschool diploma?
I’m glad you asked that. Or that I asked it for you, LOL.
A diploma is a certificate of completion. It does not have coursework or grades or credits. It does not get sent to colleges. It is great as a symbol of the journey that has been successfully travelled, but in reality it may get hung on the wall or stuck on a shelf and never needed again.
Many people get these confused with one another, but once again, we’re talking about two separate things.
More information about diplomas here: How to Get a High School Diploma — for homeschoolers.
What about accreditation?
Nopety nope nope nope. You do NOT need your transcript to be accredited by anyone. You do NOT need to pay a BUNCH of money to have someone validate the high school education you have given your child. You do NOT need to pay a BUNCH of money to have your teen take accredited courses or belong to an accredited program.
If it makes you feel better and you have the budget for it, then go ahead. But realize that you are then submitting yourself to someone else’s idea of what is good for YOUR kid as far as coursework and curriculum goes. Just sayin’.
You REALLY can do this all by yourself, and it REALLY will be accepted by colleges all over the country. REALLY!
My kid completed high school credits in 8th grade.
You can definitely include high school credits that were earned before 9th grade on the transcript. Just make a notation in some way that they were indeed taken in 8th grade (or whenever). I include them in the spot for 9th grade, at the top of that section, with asterisks after them. Then below that section, there is the asterisk that explains that they were taken in 8th grade. The GPA for 9th grade will then include those grades. That’s fine.
I do have opinions about how many and what kind of credits are reasonable to apply to your kid before 9th grade. At some point I’ll write a blog post about it. (Stay tuned!) For now, we’re going to assume we are talking about valid high school credits here. As long as they are, then yes, they belong on the transcript.
How to Format a Homeschool Transcript
Believe it or not, this is completely up to you. Yep! If you are comfortable with word-processing or spreadsheet software, you can totally just make your own.
See how much freedom we have?
There is no one right transcript format, y’all. They vary WIDELY among public schools, too.
Just make sure that it is:
Typed or done on a computer—NOT handwritten, and
Easy to follow.
If you are concerned about a particular college application, then look on their website under “Admissions” to see if they have any specific requirements for transcripts. Chances are they do not, because they know they can’t expect public schools to adapt their transcripts for individual student applications.
Often a college will have a page on their website just for homeschool applicants, and there they will tell you what they need to see. But I would be surprised if it differs at all from what I’ve already described.
Year-Based vs. Subject-Based
These are two options for how to format your homeschool transcript. The first lists each year in high school—Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, etc.—with the courses taken during those grade levels listed underneath. The second lists each subject—English, Math, etc.—with the courses taken in each subject listed underneath, with no reference to grade level.
I have heard of both formats being used successfully. My personal recommendation is to use a year-based format, because I think it is valuable to see the progression of the student’s high school career. How many credits did they take each semester? How did their grades improve over time? (And don’t worry about senioritis and lower grades that year; colleges are used to seeing that, hello.)
I also personally recommend showing both fall semester grades and spring semester grades, then averaging those for a final grade, for each year-long course. Again, I think this shows progression, which I think is valuable information that colleges would be interested in. Did the kid bring his B up to an A? They can’t see that unless they are shown grades for each semester.
The transcript does NOT have to fit on one page. That is a common misunderstanding which is just NOT TRUE. Mine have all been 2 – 3 pages. I wouldn’t go longer than three, however.
For more ideas/examples regarding formatting, I’ve compiled some samples specifically for homeschoolers and have listed the links for them at the end of this post. Also scroll down just a little bit to see one of my kids’ transcripts (name redacted to protect the guilty, LOL). OR read to the end for a way to make this process fairly quick and easy for yourself. *creating suspense here* 🙂
Official vs. Unofficial
Some colleges are particular about the wording on the transcript, so I would suggest using the term “official” at the top.
In my experience, the word “official” only means that the transcript is being sent straight from the school administration (in this case, YOU) to the college. The transcript is NOT being handled by the student nor being sent by the student.
An unofficial transcript is a copy that the student sends.
In either case, your homeschool transcript does NOT need to be notarized unless the college specifically requests it. I have yet to apply to one that does, but I have heard of it. Again, they will notate that on their website—but don’t worry about it unless they make it VERY clear.
Homeschool Transcript Examples
Below is what my three older girls’ transcripts all looked like. This was formatted by the homeschool record-keeping software I was using at the time, called Homeschool Tracker.
To be honest, using your homeschool software is really the easiest way to go, because the software does all the calculations and formatting, and you just choose which student, courses, and other information you want on there and then print that bugger out.
This transcript (C’s and all) got this kid into two different colleges with merit scholarships at both. You do NOT have to show all A’s on a transcript, y’all; in fact, I advise against it. Show who your kid really is. Don’t try to fit them into a mold they are not equipped to sustain.
(But that’s the topic of another blog post: read The Truth About How to Look Good on College Applications.)
But what if you are not using homeschool software, or you don’t like the way the pre-formatted transcript looks, and/or you don’t want to take the time to format your own form?
Hey, you can purchase and download my fill-in and print homeschool high school transcript form for only $4.99! Just sayin’… 🙂
Yes, I am here to make things easy! That’s what this blog is all about! So I have created a fillable PDF transcript form that you can download, type your child’s information into, and print. All the calculations of grades and GPA will be up to you (instructions included); but the formatting is all done, which is half the battle! Since it is a PDF, you can use it on either a Mac or PC. It is available for $4.99, which makes it a very reasonable way to have a great-looking transcript!
- Features two transcript forms, one for before graduation and one for after. All data is auto-populated from one to the other.
- Includes full instructions for filling out the form and also for calculating the GPA.
- Last page is a subject-based summary of credits.
For a review of my transcript form, read what Mary Prather at Homegrown Learners has to say: The Homeschool Journey to College – Part 2, The Transcript.
NOTE: The transcript form in the picture shows a spot to input the student’s Social Security Number. That has been removed from the form and the Date of Birth is now used on all pages instead.
To sum up, the homeschool high school transcript is very doable, y’all, just like every other aspect of homeschooling high school. Don’t make it more difficult or worrisome than it needs to be.
You’ve got this! Sleep better TONIGHT!