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How to Make an Impressive Homeschool Transcript — everything you need to know!

Overview: You can create an impressive homeschool high school transcript once you know a few pieces of vital information. Here is everything you need to wow colleges!

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 make 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 homeschool high school transcript that will impress colleges. And it won’t take forever to put it together, either. Let’s get started:

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 if you’ve been keeping up with your homeschool paperwork (i.e., grading), then the entire thing is merely a matter of inputting data. Easy!

The public high schools don’t make ’em any differently than this, y’all. Doing a Google image search will bring up myriads of high school transcript samples, if you want to see for yourself.

All other information is OPTIONAL.

Which also means unnecessary, hello. This includes listing extra-curricular activities, awards, scores from college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, etc. That information will be entered on the application itself, so there is no need to replicate it on the transcript. The transcript is not a resumé of everything your kid is; it represents only their academic work.

Admissions people are looking for something easy to follow. 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, so colleges can easily compile their paperwork and keep your “John Smith” separate from every other samey-namey who has applied.

You can create an impressive homeschool high school transcript once you know a few pieces of vital information. Here is everything you need to wow colleges!

Should transcripts for homeschoolers have a grading scale on them?

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.

Note: If you’re still unclear about that, 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. Many people get the transcript and diploma confused with one another, but they are two very different documents.

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, showing that your kid fulfilled your graduation requirements—but in reality it may get hung on the wall or stuck on a shelf and never needed again.

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 also 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 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 homeschool high school transcript thing all by yourself, and it REALLY will be accepted by colleges all over the country. REALLY!

Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Preparing for College for Homeschoolers

What if your 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.

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 sent straight from the school administration (in this case, YOU) to the college. An official high school transcript is not handled by the student nor sent by the student. An unofficial transcript is a copy that the student has access to and sends for themselves.

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. They will notate that on their website—but don’t worry about it unless they make it VERY clear.

How to Format a High School 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.

Just make sure that it is:

  • Typed or done on a computer—NOT handwritten, and
  • Easy to follow.

See how much freedom we have? There is no one right transcript format, y’all. They vary WIDELY among public schools, too. Colleges are OK with that, because they get applicants from all over the world.

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. (You can find an example of a subject-based transcript here.)

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, LOL.)

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, this shows progression, which 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.

Sample Homeschool High School Transcript

Below is what my three older girls’ high school transcripts all looked like. (Name redacted to protect the guilty, LOL.) This was formatted by the homeschool record-keeping software I was using at the time, called Homeschool Tracker.

Using your homeschool planning software is really the easiest way to go, because it does all the calculations and formatting, and you choose which student, courses, and other information you want on there and then print that bugger out.

Worried about making a homeschool high school transcript for college applications? It is NOT difficult, and I'll tell you EVERYTHING you need to know!
One small detail: Use “Projected Graduation Date” for the transcript you send with college applications; after your child has indeed graduated, use “Graduation Date.” I forgot that here… um.

This particular document (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 homeschool 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 don’t have any homeschool software and you don’t want to take the time to format your own? Or your computer skills are worse than those of your cat?

Hey, you can purchase and download my fillable homeschool transcript template for only $4.99!  Just sayin’… 

Buy this fillable PDF transcript form for an easy way to obtain a professional-looking homeschool high school transcript. Just type in your teen's information and print.

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.

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—just like every other aspect of homeschooling high school.  Don’t make it more difficult or worrisome than it needs to be. With the information you now have, you’ll be able to crank one out in no time.

You’ve got this! Sleep better TONIGHT!

You can create an impressive homeschool high school transcript once you know a few pieces of vital information. Here is everything you need to wow colleges!

About the author

Ann Karako

Ann has been homeschooling for 20+ years and has graduated four children (one more to go). She believes that EVERY mom can CONFIDENTLY, COMPETENTLY -- and even CONTENTEDLY -- provide the COMPLETE high school education that her teen needs. Ann's website, AnnieandEverything.com, offers information, resources, and virtual hugs to help homeschool moms do just that. 

Ann has written Cure the Fear of Homeschooling High School: A Step-by-Step Manual for Research & Planning and Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School: Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation. She also founded the popular Facebook group called It's Not that Hard to Homeschool High School, which now has over 27K members; and recently she started the It's Not That Hard to Homeschool High School Podcast.

She and her family, including two dogs and three cats, live in rural Missouri.

39 Comments

  • Great article. I find that in my work with parents, creating the homeschool transcript is the number one concern after: “What about a diploma?” I would also add that it is important to create course descriptions in addition to the transcript. For my daughter, I actually attached these descriptions to the transcript in a PDF form. This included a brief description, instructor (or independent), and assessment method. This gives the college admissions more info, especially for non-traditional courses.

  • Great post, Ann! I would add, in our experience, the schools wanted test scores on the transcript. Having the information on one page at their fingertips saved them time. Saving busy admissions personnel time is a win-win for everyone. One of those points we found varies per university. But, again, this is a wonderfully helpful post. Thanks for posting and pouring into families lives!

    • Thanks for the comment, Cheryl! My own experience has been that schools aren’t interested in my reporting the scores as much as they are in receiving the official scores from the testing agencies themselves. That’s why I did not include a place for them on my form. Certainly one can add them to another place in the application packet. Do public schools put test scores on their transcripts? I doubt it, because they have no way of knowing individual student scores.

  • Doing a transcript can sound so intimidating! The state we live in requires us to register with an umbrella school. They take care of the transcripts and everything for us but this is great info in case we ever do not need an umbrella school. Great tips! You make is sound so easy 🙂

    • Hi Kristine! Just put your email address in the box in the article, and you’ll receive an email with a link to the download. 🙂 Thanks for asking! 🙂

        • Hi Niki, the printable offered in this article has not been free for over two years, sorry. At the time I made all my email subscribers aware that it would become a paid product and offered them a last chance to get it for free, and many took advantage of that opportunity. I’m sorry you missed it, but the price is not prohibitive even now. But there are links to other possibilities at the bottom of the article, so maybe you’ll find a free one there that will work for you.

          • Thanks for getting back to me. I wondered if the “buy now” option was the once free one. I think I need to build my own. I can’t quite find one that works for our needs. So fun seeing Suzy from time to time at CFA.

          • Ack, Niki, I didn’t realize that was you! Thanks for stopping by! What exactly are you looking for in a transcript template, and did you find one? Maybe I need to offer a different format in addition to the existing one.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this post with us on the Hip Homeschool Hop!! So many moms are afraid to homeschool high school because of having to create a transcript and not knowing how to handle this sort of thing. I appreciate your sharing this information with our readers!

  • Thanks! Very helpful. Encouraging you to go ahead and write the post for creating a course description. Didn’t see a link. I’ll be watching for it. Thanks for the form!

  • I am so glad I found your website on Pinterest! This is making me feel so much better. I do have one question. I saw where some one said that you need to buy an embosser, with your school name on it, and you then embossed it on your HighSchool Transcript? Is this true?

    • Yay! I’m glad to have helped! To answer your question: Nope! So not true. I totally sent ours in (to several different schools) with just my signature, and there was no problem. Some schools may specify that you get it notarized, but then it would have to be the notary’s embosser, not yours. And notarization is NOT necessary unless the school specifically requires it. I hate the way people claim things are necessary when they are not! Pet peeve!! 🙂

  • Hi I purchased the fill able transcript, but it won’t let me fill? Trying to edit but there is a security lock on the document that states I “cannot edit or copy this document.” do I need a passcode?

    • Hi Melissa, I sent you an email, just so if you have any further trouble, we can dialogue easier. Here is what it said (for anyone else who may have the same problem): “If you are getting a message that you need a passcode, then that means you haven’t actually downloaded the form onto your computer. Go to the top right and look for the download arrow, and save the document to your preferred folder on your computer. Then open it up FROM THAT FOLDER. Now you should be able to input data.” It’s easy to think you have the document when all you’ve done is opened it up in a browser, not actually downloaded it. I’ve done that myself! Let me know if you have any further problems! 🙂

  • I have homeschooled 2 children and created a very professional High School Transcripts (which was the easiest part!). Our challenge has been finding a notary who will notorize an unofficial transcript that I have generated on my own. Every college we have aplied to, including community colleges, required our transcripts to be notorized. Is there a company I can pay to generate an “official” transcript? Anything a parent generates on their own has not been excepted in our experience. I understand each state has different requirement and we reside in Texas.

    • I have NEVER had to notarize a transcript, and I have NEVER had our transcript not accepted by colleges. Are you in my high school Facebook group? There are many families from TX in there, and maybe they can help you with this. I have to think that maybe you are misunderstanding somewhere along the line. But even if you are correct, I’m also not sure why a notary wouldn’t notarize your signature — they are not claiming anything about the transcript by doing so, they are just witnessing your signature. I don’t think they have any risk. When I do need something notarized, I go to my bank where they know me, and because they know me, they trust that what I’m asking them to sign is legit, lol.

      • I’ve never had to notarize transcripts. My oldest is at Texas A&M, between 2 homeschool graduates, they applied to quote a few Texas universities, and we never had to have anything notarized.

    • If they have finished school, you just need to change it to say Official Transcript. My son applied to several colleges in 4 different states and didn’t need any of the transcripts notarized. When he completed his schooling, I changed the wording to Official Transcript, signed and dated it. I put it an envelope and sealed it. They all accepted his transcript.

  • Hello, I really want to purchase your transcript PDF but we do not have a paypal account. I often use paypal just using my debit card number. Is there a way to do that instead of having a link to pay sent to a paypal email account?

    • Hi Kelly, I am updating this answer because now I offer two ways to pay. It is not necessary to use Paypal any more. Thanks!

  • Thank you so much for this! My oldest son graduates HS in a couple of months and I was scrambling thinking I had to include every single detail in his transcript in order for it to be acceptable. You have definitely quelled my fears and saved me a ton of time!

  • I wish I’d had all this information when my older kids graduated. I’m on my last two now and having to create transcripts retroactively for a couple of the older ones. Ann’s information is so valuable. It’s also truly as easy as she makes it seem. I used her fillable transcript form and loved it! I love how easy it was. I was totally intimidated about it for so long and really procrastinated! One of my sons is planning to enlist in the Marine Corps and needed transcripts, so I had to break down and just do it. Now it will be so much less intimidating with my last two kids. Thanks Ann for all the time, energy and knowledge you share with other homeschool families to ease their journey and their minds!!

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I’m Ann (aka Annie), a veteran homeschool mom of five. I believe YOU can do this homeschool high school thing!
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