Detour: Applying to College as a Homeschooled Students: Transcripts

 

When considering which topic to cover next, I decided that I should delve into what I deem one of the most important aspects of a homeschooler’s application: the transcript.

Whether you’re an eighth grader, a freshman, or even a junior about to apply to colleges, it’s crucial that you give your transcript the time it needs. Students, especially those who are homeschooled, might feel as though their resume is important. After all, when you’re homeschooled, a major emphasis is placed on gaining experience in a wide variety of activities. Despite this, it’s important to realize that your transcript carries the pith of your highschool journey. It contains your grades and the classes you took and especially if you’re homeschooled, I’m nearly positive that admissions officers really study it.

Because your transcript is so important, it’s vital that you begin preparing it as soon as you begin taking high school-level classes or classes in which you’re collecting high school credits. You’ll want to keep track of not only the classes you take, but how many credits they are worth, where you took them, and the grade of each major assessment. (Though you won’t want to put individual grades of each test on your transcript, you’ll want to hold onto them for your course descriptions which I will talk about in a later post.)

I was quite organized about keeping track of my classes and I don’t think this is difficult. The only thing I would say about this part is that you should be checking in with your local high school to see what they require for graduation. From their requirements, you can glean an idea of what your state requires for graduation, and this is a stipulation you’ll want to meet if you want to have legally graduated high school.

So, you’re a junior or sophomore and you’ve been dutifully keeping track of your classes and final grades. Now what? You begin creating your transcript! 💻

Though the actual content of your transcript is obviously more important than how it actually looks, you do want a pretty transcript 🌻. But before I go into the stylistic dimension, I want to mention what components you need on your transcript regardless of how beautiful it is.


1. Student Information

Your transcript is an official document, so you’ll want your name, address, and the email of your homeschool supervisor somewhere on there. I decided to place my personal information on the very top of my transcript. I titled it “Sara’s Official Highschool Transcript”, then in the corner, typed in my full name, address, and email. 👧

Along with your contact information, the top of your transcript should contain information about the total number of credits you accumulated, your overall GPA (both weighted and unweighted), and the date of your graduation.

2. Standardized Test Scores

Because standardized test scores are so important in the application process, I recommend that they also have a space on the top of your transcript. If someone is scanning your transcript, you want their eyes to alight on the important pieces, so don’t stuff them in tiny, difficult to find corners.

3. Senior Year Schedule

It doesn’t matter if you place this on the top of your transcript (that’s how I did it) or at the end, but you do want to include your senior year schedule somewhere. If it does change, updates can be included in your mid-year report, but you want to give colleges an idea of how you’re planning on spending your senior year.

4. Schools Attended

This piece might not be necessary in your case, but since I attended a few different schools (public schools, Co-op, online academies), I wanted to list them on my transcript. I decided to place this list at the end of my transcript because it isn’t vital information.

5. Credits and Grading

It’s important to include information about how you classify a credit and how you chose to grade your work during high school. Traditionally, 60-80 hours classifies half of a credit and 120-160 hours classifies a whole credit. This is something you’ll want to put on your transcript so that colleges can understand your grades. Also, you’ll want to include a grading scale and a GPA calculation scale (mine was the traditional A = 4.0…ect.). If you weighted your GPA differently due to Honors or AP classes, you’ll want to note that as well. I decided to place this information at the end of my transcript.

6. Supervisor Certification

The transcript template I used had a place for a supervisor to sign their name and I didn’t think much of it at first. Now however, after talking to admissions counselors, I realize that it’s important for colleges to know that the information you’re sending them is 100% accurate. Some colleges are really picky about this (they won’t accept anything you as a student email them but require that your supervisor sends in the information) and others are more easygoing.

7. Reading List

If you’re a homeschooler who followed a more classical curriculum, your application will benefit from a reading list. Even if you followed a regular curriculum but read an array of classics and Great Books, a reading list is extremely helpful. It adds an extra dimension to your application and gives colleges an idea of your background. In addition to a reading list, it’s equally wonderful to add a ‘Poems Memorized’ list if you memorized poetry like I did. Admissions officers tend to find these lists impressive.


Now that we’ve discussed the backbone of your transcript, I think it’s important to talk about the design of your transcript. I used a transcript template from Lee Binz’s Total Transcript Solution (this was extremely helpful and gives you a handful of templates to play around with) and modified it to fit my needs. You can organize your transcript however you’d like – as long as you do indeed organize it. Mine was organized into little tables – one for each subject. I had a table for mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, electives, and world languages. Each subject had a column in which I typed in the title of a class, the class’ level (regular, honors, AP) the grade I received, the year I took it, and the school in which it was administered. Above each table, I placed a section in which I tallied up the total number of credits for each subject and the total GPA of each subject. I know it’s difficult to conjure up an image of how my transcript looked, so I apologize. 😁

I’ve seen transcripts in which there’s a small description to go along with each class. I don’t think there’s an inherent problem with that except that it prevents you from creating a neat, streamlined transcript. Most colleges that are slightly more competitive would like to see the descriptions of your classes in a more detailed format, so I created special course descriptions for each one.

I realize creating a transcript can seem overwhelming: I felt that way too. But once you sit down with a cup of coffee 🍵 and attack it, it doesn’t seem so bad after all. It’s slightly tedious, yes, but once it’s complete, there’s no way of matching the satisfaction you receive. 👏 I realized that the best way to approach your transcript is to do it all at once. You can create a general layout and then go back in afterwards and fill in the little details, but getting the basics in all in one go is the best way to do it. I liked printing out each copy and marking it up with highlighters to note where I needed to add or omit something. As a student, it’s immensely fulfilling to see your years of hard work paint the screen of your computer and to hold a complete transcript in your hand.

Creating a transcript can be made slightly easier through the use of transcript templates, and I high recommend these. If you’re like me, it’s important to have a transcript that looks nice while also presenting information clearly. I found it difficult to create a sophisticated transcript on my own and was extremely grateful to find out that other individuals have created such templates for this reason. Lee Binz’s Total Transcript Solution was the resource I used and I loved it. I immediately found a template that worked for me and customized it to my satisfaction. I’ve also heard of a website called TranscriptMaker that helps you create your transcript. Unlike Lee Binz’s resource, you must purchase a subscription to use this website.

If you have any questions about creating your transcript or want some more specific tips, let me know in the comment section down below! This can become a confusing process and there’s nothing like discussing it with someone who’s already completed it!

Happy Day!

Sara 📔

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