Professional Transcripts Improve College Acceptance Chances
A well-made high school transcript speeds the college application experience for homeschooled students.
Homeschool families with children nearing college age eventually have to consider the high school transcript.
Understanding a Transcript
A high school transcript is simply a record of your child’s secondary learning experience. Most states require a particular number of classes across several core subjects before public school students can graduate. For example, a college bound public school student in Florida is required to have 4 credits in English, 3 credits in math social studies and science, 2 foreign language credits and several elective credits.
Colleges usually want to see that homeschooled students have had at least an equivalent course of study during their high school years.
The Language of College
While it’s easier to create a transcript if you’re a good record keeper, or if your child has some “traditional” public school education credits from part time enrollment, virtual school or correspondence school programs or dual enrollment at a local college, informal learning can also lend itself well to documentation.
It’s just a matter of knowing the language of higher education. And however anti-authoritarian or deinstitutionalized your homeschool experience has been, for your children’s sake, now is a good time to learn the second language of college admissions.
Because the fact is, if you give colleges what they’re familiar with, your child’s chances for college acceptance are that much greater.
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What Not to Do
First, here’s a few things you don’t want to do.
- You don’t need to give your child’s entire homeschool history, dating back to preschool.
- Don’t over-document. Colleges don’t want to see your child’s 8th grade science project, or a video of him or her singing at church.
- Resist the urge to crow. If an outside music or art teacher feels your child is a brilliant prodigy, get a letter of recommendation.
- Don’t use unusual names to describe or identify an interest or subject. Your child may be an expert in the history of an obscure South
- American parasite, but use an easily recognizable title to identify that course of study: Science - Entomology.
- Don’t decorate your transcript.
- Don’t make it more than two pages long.
- Don’t provide supporting material for classes with a transcript. A photo album of your child’s last three years isn't necessary.
- Don’t hand write your transcript.
Creating Your Transcript
Now move on to what you do want to do.
Create a professional looking transcript modeled on standard high school transcripts. You can use online forms from Donna Young.org or Teascript or you can simply model your own
Consider assigning state department of education course numbers to matching classes. For example, Algebra I, in Florida is course # 1200310, according to the Statewide Course Numbering System. For nonpublic classes, you can simply apply an asterisk that says something like “* State Course Equivalent.
Identify courses with simple, common sense descriptions. If your child has an extensive art portfolio, identify subsequent years of art as “Drawing I,” and “Drawing II”, or “Study in Design.”
Assign traditional grading and credits. Most public school classes earn students 1 credits each. Most public schools require 18-24 credits to graduate.
Going somewhat above the public school requirement is fine. Going far above it can look a little silly, so consider creating a separate section to identify dual enrollment courses, and other extra curricular studies and achievements.
Sign and date your transcript.
Then get out of the way and let your child forge his or her path to the future!
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After years teaching a range of courses in Georgia public schools, from Drama to AP English, I pulled the plug on my tenure and took a leap back into university instruction. Why? Sometimes we need to make decisions based on what works. For now, I am eager for motivated students, a professional environment that offers opportunities for growth, research, and challenge, and a location that mixes elements of "Wow!" and "Ahhhh!" So, when offered the position, I jumped at the chance to revisit Morocco and to teach ESL at a university located, somewhat more coolly, in the Mid-Atlas mountains.