Wednesday, March 26, 2008

High School Transcripts: How to Create Your Own

It's that time of year in which I receive questions about how to create a transcript for homeschooled high school graduates who will go on to college.

First of all, please don't be nervous! If someone with a need to know (like a prospective employer) should ask a recent high school, homeschooled graduate seeking employment , "Do you have a high school diploma?" any homeschooled young adult can simply and honestly answer "Yes." There is no need to add, "But it's a homeschool type." While I realize that individuals or some organizations might disagree, it comes down to the Christian truth that a HOME school diploma is authentic, especially when we know that we have every right and duty to educate our own children.

In addition, when was the last time any of us recall pulling out our high school diploma to offer proof of our high school education? I can't recall doing that even once. The usual question really has to do with high school graduation, and a homeschooled student can forthrightly state, "Yes, I graduated" (again, without necessarily sharing details to a prospective employer).

To prepare a high school transcript that reflects grades 9-12 (completed) and which will be submitted to a college, I recommend simply going over each subject which your student has studied and break each subject down into either a "1 semester class" or a "whole year" class. A one semester class is usually listed as a half credit (.5), while a whole year class is one credit (1.0) If you haven't done so already, please be sure to:

---Find out what are your state’s current graduation requirements (e.g. - how many credits needed for math, science, social studies - eg. history and geography - and Language Arts - eg. English, Composition, Poetry, Literature inclusive).

---Thoroughly research the college admission requirements at the campus in which your student is interested. I say this because there are always exceptions to the general outline which I am here providing. If you call and ask verbal questions, be absolutely sure to ask for the college counselor's name and direct extension number - and file any that info inside a special folder on your computer. (A word to the wise: Verbal discussions mean little. A counselor can easily say at a later time that you misunderstood them. So ask for a letter of confirmation, clearly spelling out what high school graduation requirements or any special considerations they need for home educated high school grads.) If you don't find explicit information on homeschool requirements in the college catalog, be sure to ask - and be sure to get the answer in writing.

---Look at everything your student did that qualifies for each subject, in addition to written work. (e.g. - special reading interests, 4-H, Science Fairs.)

---Do the same by listing extracurricular courses - anything from Latin (or any foreign language) to "sports" to any special interest clubs. The reason for doing this is to clearly but briefly display that your student possesses a range of outside interests.

---Then type out the draft of your master transcript to start totaling and comparing that your student fits the requirements. Keep the transcript size to fit ONE typed 8" x 11" page. When it is completed, double and triple-check for typing errors, alignment errors, etc. Send only clean, wrinkle-free copies.

---Start out with your student's name, Social Security (required these days), class standing (1of 1), and graduation date (month/date/year). Then start with 12th grade and move backward. It's easier to make a 4 box chart on the page (one box for each grade) and then type out class names and grades in each box: 12th grade in the first box with school year (Ex: Grade 12, 2007-2008), 11th grade in the 2nd box (Ex: Grade 11, 2006-2007), etc.

If your student has enrolled in any home study programs or other outside classes,and received a grade, record such subjects on your master transcript. (In most cases, it is a good idea to attach the outside source’s transcript as proof. Also be sure to ask the outside source to send a copy of that same transcript to the college. Ask for the person's name who is taking your request and mark your calendar with the date your made the request. This may seem like a waste of time, but most colleges will require this extra step - and if the transcript doesn't show up, you will know who to contact and provide that person with the specific date on which you made the request. It's better to be safe than sorry!)

For example, you could list on your master transcript a Catholic home study program's class like this:


At the very bottom of the transcript page, include the following note:
*Name of the Catholic home study provider (e.g., Our Lady of Victory Catholic School or Seton Home Study, etc.) To your own transcript, staple the outside Catholic curriculum provider's transcript.

-Make a small grade chart, placed either on the top right or bottom right of the transcript (for example, an "A" = 4.0000, a "B+" =3.5555, a "B" = 3.3333, etc.). Also include the total number of credits per year, plus showing the grand total by graduation. (Again, a general rule of thumb is to compare to your state's graduation guidelines.)

--For your own self-designed classes, provide them with any name you desire. For example, one could use the term "Theology" for Religion, since most colleges (except Catholic ones) will not accept any Religion class credits. (If you have to be extraordinarily creative, it might be called "Universal World Religion" - that is, singular, not plural - since, ridiculous as it is, studying world religions with a secular viewpoint seems to be slightly in vogue). As long as your student really did the work, they should be able to claim the high school credit, even if the name of the subject must be somewhat changed. Another example: Label a Catholic Literature class "Western Literature," while another lit class might be "American and British Literature."

--On the bottom of the transcript, you should include a few notes about any extra-curricular activities (choir, volunteer work, part-time job, etc.). Keep it simple with the description. Examples:

---Boy Scouts, attained Eagle Scout Rank
---2 years of volunteer work (or part-time work) at ****.
---1 yr. Community Choir

---3 yrs. (vocal, instrument, or dance) lessons at ***.

Most high school transcripts don't include any "church" volunteer work simply because most colleges (except Catholic ones) will not seriously consider anything to do with the church (choir, soup kitchen, Legion of Mary, altar boy, etc.). Therefore, it's up to you if you wish to include church-related activities, despite the prevailing attitude against local parish volunteerism. (You might consider stating such volunteer work as "Volunteer at Annual Thanksgiving Soup Kitchen" and simply name the city and state location, or if helping out in teaching others about religion, briefly phrase this worthy work as "part-time tutor.")

Finally, total all of the completed credits in each grade box (grades 9-12) and then record the student's GPA (over the span of 4 high school years) in a separate, small area on your master transcript.

Best wishes to all of our upcoming Catholic homeschooled graduates!

In the love of Christ and His Virgin Mother,

Marianna Bartold
We’re “Keeping It Catholic” on the Net

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