A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a High School Transcript for Your Homeschooler...With Free Printables!

I’ve just graduated my first homeschooled child. It’s an amazing feeling ya’ll. Besides the fact that I’m proud of her and her accomplishments, I’m also celebrating my accomplishments. I’m celebrating the fact that, by the grace of God, I’ve had the privilege to walk beside this kid all the way through school. From teaching her how to read to guiding her through her first research paper to bemoaning high school math with her I’ve been there.

I have to admit that when she first entered high school I was afraid. It was the first time I’d really been worried about homeschooling. I worried that I wouldn’t do something right, that I wouldn’t keep the right records, that I wouldn’t prepare her for college. And I was terrified of that looming high school transcript.

When it really came down to it, however, I learned that I didn’t need to fear this dreaded transcript. I learned how to do it effectively. And my daughter was easily able to get into the college of her choice and to receive scholarships based on her grades.

If you’re starting to stress over transcripts, graduation requirements, and whether or not your homeschooled high schooler will get into college, this post if for you. You can follow this step-by-step guide to create professional looking, accurate transcripts.

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Just a caveat: Every student does not, should not, and will not go to college. If you’re reading this post and beginning to hyperventilate because you’re thinking college is not for your child but you’re feeling pressured to pursue the college track for your child, step away and take a deep breath. There are very successful kids who don’t even go the graduation route. Instead they get a GED and pursue a career or take some technical college classes. 

Only you know your child and your family situation. So don’t jump on the transcript, diploma, college track just because all the other moms at homeschool co-op are doing it. Make a prayerful decision, along with your spouse and child’s input about the after high school choices you have.

Okay. Off my soap box now. If you are going the graduation and diploma route, here is your step-by-step guide for keeping track of graduation requirements and creating your student’s transcript. Don’t forget to pick up your free printables with a graduation worksheet and blank transcript here.

Step One: Find out the graduation requirements for your state.

If you are planning to have your child graduate from high school with the potential to go to college, you’ll want to find our the graduation requirements for your state as well as be aware of the college admissions requirements for states in which your child may go to college. You can find all the US states and their requirements listed on LearningPath.org.

Occasionally states will have some specific requirements about the classes that are counted toward a diploma. For example, in my state of South Carolina, students are required to have not only three sciences for graduation, but three lab sciences. And there are restrictions about what counts as a lab science. You can use this map from the US Department of Education to find the specific site for your state’s education department which will have the state’s requirement for graduation as well as the requirements for most colleges in the state.

Step Two: Write down your state’s requirements and any restrictions about what fits those requirements on a worksheet.

Included in the free packet is a worksheet that will help you to walk through your state’s requirements for graduation for every subject and give you room to record each class that is taken. This worksheet contains pages for every academic subject as well as electives. You’ll list your state’s requirements, including what’s allowed to meet the requirement here. You can record the class the student took to complete the requirement in the blanks.

Step Three: Learn about what constitutes a full credit or a half credit.

High school credits are generally based on the number of hours that students work on a course. HSLDA has a great article about how many hours constitutes a high school credit in the US.

It’s fairly easy to record credits when students are using prewritten curricula and textbooks. These can be assumed as one credit (provided it’s a high school level course.) But you can use non-traditional methods for your high school classes as well, and it’s still possible to count those as high school credits. In that case, you’ll want to log how many hours the student actually works on the course.

For example, I gave my daughter an “Early Childhood Teaching” elective credit in high school. She was preparing lessons for and teaching a preschool class in our church. I kept track of her hours and logged enough to count a full credit for this elective.

You may also be using college classes to count as high school classes for dual enrollment. HSLDA has another great article about how to count these less-traditional classes for high school credit.

Step Four: Carefully record each class, the grade,  and the number of credits earned each high school year.

As your students complete classes during their high school years, carefully record each class, the grade, and the credits earned. You can use the blank transcript in the free packet to do this. Note the operative word “carefully” here. If you miss out on recording a class, the transcript won’t be accurate, and, it’s difficult to go back and add things in and have your transcript look official.

I made the mistake of leaving out Algebra 1 one year. My legal organization caught it the following year when I recorded Algebra 2, and they were able to help me figure out what to do. But my daughter would have been pretty unhappy if her Algebra 1 credit hadn’t counted!

As you record each class, record the grade as well as the credit earned. Depending on your state’s homeschool requirements, you may not be turning in all your individual grades for the year. But, even if this isn’t required for you, I recommend keeping good records of grades and attendance just in case you’re ever questioned.

Step Five: Record standardized test scores.

Your student will send official standardized scores to colleges she’s interested in. But it doesn’t hurt to have these recorded on the transcript as well. The transcript in the free packet has places to record multiple tests, so if your student retakes the tests at different times, you can add those scores.

There’s much discussion about which college prep test to take- SAT or ACT. I’m definitely not a definitive source of information, but I do know that the SAT is becoming more and more like the ACT in recent changes that have been made. It’s still a good idea to have your student do some prep for each, though, before taking them. Kahn Academy has full practice tests for the SAT. And you find some good online ACT prep on the ACT site here.

Step Six: Consider having your transcripts evaluated and approved by a legal organization if possible.

In my state, I homeschool under an independent “umbrella” group that is basically my legal protection. I do not have to turn in grades to this organization. When kids reach high school age, we can opt in for an additional cost to be in a transcript program. Within this program, we submit the classes, a class description, and the class grade each year and the organization keeps an official transcript.

Having this backup has saved me many times- remember the algebra incident? If you have the opportunity to have this backup, it’s worth an extra cost to have extra eyes on your child’s high school transcript. If you don’t have this option, maybe you can get together with a veteran homeschool mom who has graduated high schoolers and who can give you a little advice.

I hope this has made keeping a transcript a little less scary. Pick up your free packet here and record those graduation requirements so you can get started on your transcript. Homeschooling through high school isn’t difficult. You can do it!

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