Wondering how to create a high school transcript for your homeschooler?
You are not alone. In fact, all of the homeschool moms I know agree that figuring out how make a transcript is one part of homeschooling that seems confusing and overwhelming. And even more scary than a toilet paper shortage during a pandemic.
Which is why I created this guide just for you, complete with answers to all of your transcript questions.
So grab some coffee, read this, and learn everything you need to know about how to make a great high school transcript for your homeschooler.
Now, unless you are using a schooling option for high school that does this for you, the homeschool parent is responsible for creating something that most colleges and universities will want to see called a high school transcript.
Even if your child has zero plans or interest in college at the moment, go ahead and make one just to be safe. Plans change, and trust me, you don’t want to be digging through old high school papers and planners down the road to create one.
Crafting one is not extremely hard, but it is a little tedious and time-consuming, and ideally requires some planning throughout the high school years, and definitely some triple-checking at the end.
What is a transcript?
A transcript is basically an academic snapshot of high school. It is a summary of all completed high school classes with final grades, credits, and GPAs. It is used by colleges, universities, and scholarship sources to verify high school work completed by the student.
What information is included on a transcript?
Your transcript should include all of the following:
- Student Information (name, contact info, birthdate)
- Parent or School Name and Address
- Graduation Date
- High School Classes (with final grade and credit earned)
- Yearly and Cumulative GPA (weighted and unweighted)
- Parent Signature and Date
If you haven’t already done this, you get to create a name for your homeschool, which will also go on the diploma. Some families use their last name as part of the school name or another word or phrase that has significant meaning to their family.
You will also need an official graduation date for the transcript, but you can use a tentative one while you are creating it if you are not sure of the exact date yet and call it “Projected Graduation Date”.
And that’s it. You don’t need to include anything else on your transcript to make it complete.
But what about course descriptions?
Now, you may have heard about parents including pages and pages of detailed course descriptions and other information. But you don’t need to do this for your transcript to be accepted or comparable to students in public or private school.
I’ve helped many high schoolers create a transcript with only the above information who were accepted into both public and private universities. And most of them landed some sweet scholarship money as well.
How soon should I start creating a transcript?
Ideally, you should start planning a transcript for your high schooler as soon as he or she begins taking high school courses, which will be 9th grade or even earlier.
You can make a transcript and then update it for each year of high school or just plan it out and create one closer to the end. Colleges will want one, or at least the information from it, during the application process. This is typically during the beginning of the senior year of high school. You may need one before that for dual enrollment classes or scholarships.
Three step plan for creating a transcript:
- Plan out and take all needed high school courses for each school year.
- Input final grades and credit hours for all high school courses completed for each school year.
- Calculate the GPAs for each school year, and cumulative GPAs.
So, let’s talk about each of these steps in more detail.
How do I know what courses need to be taken?
The best way to make sure that your high schooler meets all requirements is to start with the end in mind. You will want to confirm this with your state, but usually you, as a homeschool parent, get to decide what courses your teen needs to take and when he or she has completed enough classes to graduate.
But many post-secondary institutions have their own list of required high school classes.
Which is why even though it may seem CRAZY if your child is not even close to graduation yet or has no clue what he or she wants to do, you should contact whatever universities, community colleges, trade schools, or other programs your future graduate could possibly be interested in to find out their admission requirements regarding total credits, specific high school classes requirements, and minimum testing scores.
You can also follow your state’s list of high school graduation requirements, which should allow your teen to be accepted into your state’s colleges or universities. Here is a link for the graduation requirements for all 50 states in the US.
How do I know what to name the course?
Many courses are just the name of the class, like Algebra 1 or World History. Some may have a few different possible names. You can look at the high school course directory for your state, such as this course directory for FL. Reading the descriptions of the courses can help you find the most accurate name for your course.
Course names can be tricky, especially if you have created your own course or are using one with a different name than what is listed in your state’s graduation requirements. This is one part of the transcript process where I have guided many parents who use my high school transcript service.
How do I give a final grade for each course?
If you are using an online class, co-op, or other option that helps you with grading, you may already have a final grade for the class. If not, you can calculate a final grade by averaging the quarter or semester grades.
You can also check for understanding and mastery of the course and use this as a guideline in giving a final grade. For example, finishing most of the class with an excellent understanding and mastery would equate to an A. Completing it with a good understanding would be a B. Finishing but not mastering or understanding some parts of it would equal a C.
Your goal is to be as objective as possible in the grading and giving the final grade. This can be tough if you are not used to grading your child’s work, or find yourself unable to be objective with them. You can use a family member or friend who understands the subject and is more objective to help grade the work and give a final grade.
How do I know how many credits to give for each class?
If your teen finishes most of a full-year curriculum in a subject, that counts as one full credit, while finishing about half of it (or most of a semester course) counts as a half credit. Remember that almost no teacher requires their students to finish every single lesson or the entire textbook.
You can also count the hours of study in a high school subject to determine the credits. Hours for a full credit range from 120 to 180 hours, depending on how rigorous the course is, and hours for a half credit range from 60 to 90 hours.
Here is a general rule: spending about 150 hours in a high school course counts as a full credit, while completing about 75 hours counts as a half credit.
Does my high schooler need to finish the course in one school year for it to count?
No. It is fine to take longer than one school year to finish a course. You can keep track of hours and samples of work if the course is done more slowly over a few years, such as in a weekly co-op, after-school class, or other self-paced option, and give them the final grade and credit once they have accumulated the needed hours.
What about Dual Enrollment classes?
Dual enrollment classes count for high school credit as well as college credit, but the actual credits for high school depend on the subject covered. Usually, math and English classes count for a full credit, but some of the other subjects, including electives may only count for a half credit.
You will definitely want to check with your state’s guidelines for dual enrollment classes. Here’s an example of Florida’s link for the dual enrollment credits for high school.
Do I need to include course codes on the transcript?
Nope, not unless your teen is using a private school option, and if so, the school will usually give you the list of course codes and help you create your transcript.
Is my transcript accredited?
No, the only way to get an accredited transcript is through a school or other institution that is accredited.
The good news is that you will most likely not need an accredited transcript. Although they used to, the NCAA and the military (according to the HSLDA) no longer require an accredited transcript. There are still a few high schools and academies that may require one for admission.
Do I need to include classes taken at another school on my transcript?
Yes, you should create a transcript that shows all of the high school classes taken, even if some were at another school. You can mark this on your transcript for clarity, and use the grades given by the school for those classes.
You will need to have an official transcript sent from each of the high schools attended to the college or university, in addition to the one you have created.
How do I calculate the GPA and cumulative GPA?
A GPA, which stands for grade point average, is just an average of all of the grades for the year, using the credits and the final grades converted to points.
Here is the conversion of final grades to points: an A is worth 4 points, a B is worth 3 points, a C is worth 2 points, and a D is worth 1 point.
The GPA formula is the sum of the grade points divided by the sum of the credits.
For example, if your teen took 6 one credit classes in a year, and got all A’s in 5 of them and a B in one, then the GPA for that year would be 3.83 (23 divided by 6).
If any of the classes are worth a half credit, then half the point values for those classes.
The cumulative GPA uses the same formula but averages all of the grade points and credits taken so far. You should calculate a yearly and cumulative GPA for each year, and then a final cumulative GPA for all of the high school courses taken.
Do Pass/Fail classes count in the GPA?
No, they do not. These classes should be included on the high school transcript, but since they do not have a specific grade attached to them, they should not be included in the GPA calculations.
What about honors and AP courses?
Honors and AP classes typically get a higher point value, since more work was completed in these courses. In general, each honors course gets an additional 0.5 in the point conversion, so an A will be worth 4.5 points and a B will be worth 3.5 points. AP classes usually get an additional point, making an A worth 5 points.
What is the difference between a weighted and unweighted GPA?
A weighted GPA includes the additional points from the honors and AP classes in the point conversion, which can give the student a GPA that is higher than a 4.0. If you calculate a weighted GPA, you should also calculate an unweighted one to record on the transcript.
How do I make my transcript official?
All homeschool transcripts are official if they are signed and dated by the principal, which is the parent. You can add the words Official Final Transcript to the top of your transcript once you have finished it for all high school classes.
And that’s it! You will want to check with the college to find out how to submit the completed transcript. You may need to submit it online or mail it in a sealed envelope.
Would you like a simple way to keep track of all of the high school classes, grades, and credits as you go? Download this free Transcript Planning Sheet I created just for you to help you plan and record all of the info you need.
And if creating a high school transcript sounds like more than you want to handle on your own, please contact me! I have helped many families just like yours create and update their high school transcripts. I would love to consult with you or even make a transcript for you through my high school transcript service.
And now you can rest easy, knowing that making a great high school transcript is well within your reach!