A high school transcript lays out what courses a student has completed, what credits they have obtained, and what grades they have received. Students homeschooled through an umbrella school or correspondence school will often receive a transcript from that institution, as will students homeschooled through a virtual charter school or online public school. In contrast, parents who homeschool their children independently, using a curriculum that they create or assemble on their own (without the supervision of an umbrella school), are responsible for creating their children’s high school transcripts themselves.
Students are required to submit a transcript when applying for college. Admissions offices use students’ transcripts, which include the student’s GPA and information on what courses they have taken, to determine their eligibility for admissions. High school transcripts are also used to determine students’ eligibility for various scholarships. Ensuring that a high school transcript is professional and complete is critical to promoting students’ future success. High school transcripts are generally necessary to pursue higher education. Even if a homeschooled student intends to go straight into the workforce, having a transcript is still important, as employers may ask to see a high school transcript.
Ideally, parents and students should sit down together before high school to create an academic plan for the student’s high school years. This plan should ensure that the student stays on track to complete the state’s high school graduation requirements and should include careful recordkeeping. However, don’t despair if you are coming to the transcript process without the benefit of such forethought. You can still create a quality high school transcript.
With the benefit of careful records, creating a year-by-year listing of subjects and materials the student has studied should be fairly simple. If records are more scattered, compiling this list may take more effort. Make sure to include extracurricular activities, independent courses of study the student has undertaken in subjects of their own interest, classes the student has taken at a community college or the local high school, and online classes.
If the student completed high school-level material such as Algebra I or Biology prior to high school, include a section for eighth grade (or even seventh grade) in your list. However, only include high school-level material covered during these grades, rather than all material.
A few states have specific requirements for homeschooled students, listing the number of courses or credits they must complete in each subject while in high school. In states without homeschool-specific requirements, you should meet the requirements for public school graduation in the state in which the student will graduate. A homeschool transcript that indicates that a student did not meet state standards for high school graduation may be seen as evidence of a subpar education.
It is typical for a state to require 4 years of English, 3-4 years of math, 2-3 years of science, 3-4 years of social studies, and a smaller number of years in areas like physical education and health, foreign languages, and fine arts. These requirements are often broken down further; many states, for example, stipulate that the required 3 years of social studies must include one year of U.S. history, one year of world history, and one semester each of U.S. government and economics. In addition, states generally require a certain number of years of electives.
Each state has its own system for calculating credits and its own credit requirements for graduation. Most states consider a year-long course as one credit, and require around 20-24 credits for graduation from high school. However, this does vary. In Indiana, for example, a year-long course is considered to be worth two credits, and 40 credits are required for graduation; in New Jersey, a year-long course counts as five credits, and 120 credits are required for graduation. Make sure to follow your state’s system for calculating credits and obtain the number of credits required for graduation.
You can find your state’s high school graduation requirements on the state department of education website.
At this point you need to turn your list of courses and materials the student has covered into something you can enter into a transcript. Because homeschooling may look different from formal education, turning a student’s academic experiences into courses and credits can sometimes seem daunting. Use your state’s high school graduation requirements as a guide. If your state requires 4 credits of English, you should have 4 credits of English listed, and so forth. Ideally, the transcript you produce should verify that the student meets the requirement for high school graduation in your state. In some ways, this process is like a puzzle, fitting pieces together and making sure everything fits correctly.
Remember to pay attention to how your state calculates credits. Your transcript should reflect your state’s method of calculating credits. Because most states consider a year-long course to be one credit, we will use this standard as we offer you examples in this section.
A homeschooled student may earn 1 high school credit by:
Because homeschool education often takes place outside the box, you may need to think outside the box as well. While completing an Algebra II textbook or taking a community college biology class may translate fairly easily into courses and credits, other things may take more thought. Remember that a transcript should showcase the student’s academic accomplishments whether or not they look like formal schooling.
While one credit represents a year-long high school level course, ½ credit may represent either one semester of high school level coursework or a year-long course that involves less time and effort than a standard course. A yoga class may become ½ credit of physical education, for example, and a semester-long study of bugs and insects, including research, collection, and observation, may become ½ credit of entomology and count toward required science credits. Participating in a robotics club may become ½ credit of robotics, and singing in a homeschool choir may become ½ credit of choir—these would be considered electives and would count toward the total credit requirement.
When a course of study overlaps more than one school year, you may decide whether to list it in one year or the other, or in both. However, spending two years studying a specific subject may not translate into two credits. For example, you should only assign one credit for Algebra II even if it took the student two years to complete the subject.
First, consider whether the student has covered the material in a way that may not look like a formal course. For example, a study of poetry or a writing workshop might count toward a year of English, together with additional reading and timed writing exercises. The student may have the required credits, they just may not be immediately obvious.
Second, remember that in order to graduate, the student technically only needs to complete the requirements set by the homeschool—i.e. by the parents—and not the requirements set by the state for graduation from public high school. In other words, the student does not have to meet the high school graduation requirements set by the state. However, colleges and universities often require applicants to meet these requirements, and a transcript that reveals a substandard high school education may be judged deficient by employers.
Third, consider putting graduation and the transcript on hold while the student completes the required credits. Many community colleges will accept students without high school diplomas, so this may present an opportunity to complete the requirements for high school graduation while also obtaining college credits. There are also a variety of resources available for free online for making up gaps in the student’s knowledge.
Fourth, getting a GED may be a good option for some students. While some consider a GED substandard to a high school diploma, obtaining a GED may nevertheless be the best course of action for a student who wants to move beyond high school but has not completed the requirements for high school graduation. GED prep courses are often offered free of charge by the state.
There are several options: you can create a transcript through an online form; pay to have a transcript created professionally; download and customize a template; or design your own transcript using a word processor. If you are interested in downloading and customizing a template, you can also download ours here. Whether you pay a service or use an online form, download a template or design one from scratch, it’s important that the transcript look professional.
The transcript should include:
Here is a sample transcript we have created as an example:
The transcript can be customized in a variety of ways. In our sample transcript, for example, we included a section with academic achievements such as SAT/ACT scores and AP exams, and a notes section for indicating courses taken through other educational institutions.
To calculate a student’s GPA, you will first need to assign grades to each course. Some courses, such as choir, can be considered pass/fail. Pass/fail courses do not need a grade and do not count toward the grade point average. For all graded courses, make sure that the grades you assign are fair and reflect the student’s effort and mastery of the subject material. Consider the effort a public school student must put into a course to receive a given grade, and the knowledge and skills they would be required to master. Try to make your grades as fair and accurate as possible.
Once you have the letter grades, you can calculate the student’s GPA. If you are using an online template or service, these calculations may be done automatically. If you are designing the template yourself or filling out a template you have downloaded, you will need to do these calculations yourself. There are a variety of online how-to articles and GPA calculators available. For your convenience, we will walk you through the basics below. We have also created our own form for calculating a student’s GPA.
First, each letter grade is assigned a value (A = 4, B = 3, etc.). Next, for each course that value is multiplied by the number of credit hours. The resulting grade points are added together and then divided by the total number of credits. The result is the student’s GPA.
15 grade points 4.5 credits = 3.34 GPA
You are welcome to use our downloadable form for calculating a student’s GPA. The form is an excel spreadsheet which automates this process and makes it simpler on your end.
That’s it, your transcript is complete! Now it’s time to print the transcript and sign it. The signature on the transcript is usually that of the parent, but could also be that of a portfolio evaluator or other individual with knowledge of the student’s educational accomplishments. You may want to get your transcript notarized, which involves completing the signature in the presence of a notary public. This verifies the identity of the signer. If you plan to attend college, remember that you will need to send a transcript to each school you apply to, so plan accordingly.
And with that, your transcript is done!
But wait! There’s still one more step!
When a college or employer looks at a transcript from a public high school, they can make accurate assumptions about what it means that a student took Algebra I, or Biology, or U.S. History. These assumptions do not always hold up when it comes to homeschooling, which can be more innovative and flexible. For this reason, it is a good idea to include an additional document describing the student’s courses along with the transcript. This course description document could cover all courses—specifying which curriculum is used for each, for example—or only nontraditional coursework.
A course descriptions page may also clarify which courses may have been taken through a local high school or community college or online, as well as any courses completed through a co-op or with a private tutor. This information can sometimes be listed on the transcript itself, but any information included on the transcript itself must of necessity be brief.
If the student is planning to use the transcript to apply for college, it is worth remembering that existing research suggests colleges and universities put less weight on homeschool transcripts than on transcripts from public, private, or charter schools. This is because homeschool transcripts are generally created by the student’s parents and thus have less in the way of independent verification. As a result, it is always important to include supporting documents in a college application.
Transcripts from any community colleges, online programs, or high schools where the student may have completed courses should be sent directly to the college or university to which the student is applying. SAT/ACT scores and the results of any AP or CLEP tests the student has taken should also be sent directly from the institution that oversees the tests to the relevant college or university. Recommendations from tutors or outside teachers are also important; contact information or a reference list may be included in a course description document. Your goal should be to provide external verification of the student’s academic achievements.
If a homeschooling parent fails to create a transcript for a student who has completed the required material and is ready to graduate, the homeschooled student may find it necessary to put together the transcript themselves. This is legal and acceptable. However, the student should not forge the parent’s signature on the transcript. If the parent is unwilling to sign it, another individual with knowledge of the student’s academic accomplishments—a portfolio evaluator or tutor—may be able to sign instead, or the signature may be omitted entirely.
Now that you’ve put all of this work into creating your transcript, you should think about how you want to maintain it. Public schools keep their students’ records, and a public school student can request a transcript at any time. Homeschooled students’ records, in contrast, can be more vulnerable. Uploading your transcript to a cloud storage system like dropbox or google drive, keeping a copy in a safe with other important documents or in a bank deposit box, and maintaining multiple physical copies in several locations can help ensure that a student’s transcript—this evidence of their hard work and testament to their achievement—does not disappear when replacing a defunct computer.
Don’t forget to read the other articles in this section!
Return to our main Home Educator page!