After writing the post about completing high school for the third time, I had a number of people reach out to me saying, in essence, that this was their first time homeschooling high school and they were a bit nervous. Now on the other side of this journey–twice, I wonder why confident home educators become so anxious about high school. I think one of the reasons is because it “counts,” if you will, to so many more people than you. High school, for so many of us, is a springboard to many things, and the steps and missteps associated with in-the-moment choices are lasting memories in our heads. There is a whole genre of movies dedicated to that whole identification process that we tend to go through at that age, whether we were the cheerleader, the nerd, the band member, the athlete, or the hopelessly, helplessly confused. Blockbuster movies are made of these times; reunions exist to allow us to relive the glory days (or not). Thankfully, none of that kind of angst has to exist for the homeschooler, but if college is the post-graduation plan, there are some places of commonality with those in traditional schools around you. One area of commonality is compiling a high school transcript.
I think the most critical thing to remember is that the first person to see your child’s transcript once it lands on campus is, in most cases, not a professor, not a dean, and not a department chair. The first person who will review that transcript is probably a work-study student with a checklist to be sure that your transcript has certain content easily at-hand. With that said, here are some other thoughts regarding developing a high school homeschool transcript:
- Highlight the best in your child. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website has several free transcript sample formats that are downloadable for any site visitor, member or non-member. (Of course, you can buy kits as well). The format you choose might be the one that is aesthetically pleasing to you, but it should also maximize the best about your child’s high school experience and minimize the not-so-great aspects. As examples, did your child take longer than one year to complete a math or a science? You might want to use the “by-subject” format rather than the “by-year” format. Did your child “ace” a college entrance exam or complete honors courses? Be sure there is a spot for that to be noted on the transcript. Any format should be as clean in its presentation as possible, but also think about a format that says to a college, “You are getting something special here.”
- Be careful of over-sharing. There are colleges and universities who will request certain information of homeschoolers, like a statement of educational philosophy, grading scale, or SAT subject exams, etc. Unless asked, no one needs to know your curriculum choices; you will not need course descriptions for each class. Again, think clean–your address and contact information, a class listing, honors and rewards, and a final grade.
This is an appropriate segue into two issues that often plague home educators when waiting until junior/ senior year to pull together records. Be sure that you document those items, even from freshman and sophomore year, that will help your child shine, like:
- recognitions and awards
- relevant work experience
- service learning
Also, as a lead-in to my third point, allow me to address another elephant in the room: “Mommy grades,” or rather, those grades that a college administrator might perceive to be inflated, or not truly representative of your child’s ability. There are more philosophies about grading homeschoolers than I care to go into here. Some parents decide that, because of the nature of homeschool, no child should receive less than an “A” or a “B.” From Sonlight Curriculum’s blog:
‘Homeschooling allows us the freedom to ensure mastery. In other words, there is never a reason for a homeschool student to fail a subject. You simply move at your child’s pace and help them reach their best potential.’ (https://www.sonlight.com/blog/grading-transcripts-high-school.html,accessed January 2018)
I also know parents who will throw a child’s work in the trash if it is considered less than a “B,” consider it a failed class, and make the child repeat the course. There are also many philosophies in-between and around what I have listed. Since it is HOMEschool, your choice is your choice. In our home, however, this is where my third point becomes significant.
- If you live in a dual enrollment state, take full advantage of the opportunity to enroll your child in a community college at the high school level. Can I tell the truth and be set free? I was once quite the snob about community college enrollment, considering those places the home of the “ne-er do weller,” so to speak. Of course I was wrong, and community colleges have stepped their game WAY up in the decades since I graduated high school. I am thinking to write a post on the value of community college for homeschooled children. In the meantime, just know that this is a viable, cost-effective way to verify your student’s academic abilities, to gain access to even more scholarship dollars, and to help your child transition more smoothly into a 4-year environment.
There are several resources to help you with developing a stellar transcript of your child’s high school experiences. I will list a few links here:
Personal Coaching on College Entrance and Financing (including transcript development) from Nicole Jobson, Director of College Counseling at International College Counselors (email directly at Nicole@internationalcollegecounselors.com)
The Homescholar’s Transcript Kit created by Lee Binz
I would love to hear your success stories with transcript development. How have you made your child shine?