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High School Transcripts — Frequently Asked Questions

Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High School PaperworkCreating a high school transcript is easier than it looks, but there are a few transcript questions that tend to recur like dandelions in springtime. The beginning of the spring semester seems a good time to review a couple of the questions that are most frequently asked.

The winner of the most FAQ (frequently asked question) contest would have to be some variation of the following:

Q- My 10-year-old is doing Saxon Calculus this year. Can we count it on his high school transcript?

A- High school work is high school work. When your student completes a high-school level class, it will usually go on the transcript and counts toward the total number of units required for graduation. If the student in this example needs four high school math credits to graduate, he is well on his way, as he most likely completed high school algebra before beginning calculus.

The exception to this general principle occurs when a college specifies that all work on the transcript must be completed during the four years of high school. I would go ahead and record the credit on a master transcript that you keep. For each transcript you send out, check the college website and see what the admissions department requires or prefers. Once you have created the master transcript, it’s easy to tweak it if necessary.

Another question that has recently cropped up reflects a bit of confusion over the difference between high school units and college credits. Here’s the question:

Q- My daughter took some college classes this year, and since we are considering her dual-enrolled, I have given her 3 credits per class on her high-school transcript. Is this correct?

A- For the high school transcript, you may grant only high school “units.” Only the college can grant “credits.” This is explained in detail in the ‘How to Grade and Grant Credit” chapter in Transcripts Made Easy.

A high school unit is granted when a student completes the equivalent of a course of study designed to be covered in a standard school year (120+ hours). Because college classes cover more ground more quickly than the average high school class, dual-credit students can often earn one full high school unit for a one-semester class that covers a subject that would normally take an entire high school year. A student who takes biology with lab at a college, for example, earns a full high school unit plus weighted grade points for his or her transcript. (The whole topic of earning college credits while in high school is covered in more depth in Get a Jump Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens.)

Remember, Transcripts Made Easy comes with free e-mail support, so you can ask me transcript questions any time you need to. I know that transcript-making can seem intimidating, but please — don’t let it keep you from doing high school at home. It’s really not that hard!

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12 Responses

  1. Karleen Mauldin says:

    Well, God — as usual — provides! My friend and I are speaking at our local homeschool support group’s support group meeting this Thursday night — on recordkeeping — including transcripts!! And I haven’t had to deal with that just yet. So now I can point them to your website and book!

  2. Karen Davis says:

    As you said, that first question is certainly a FAQ. On homeschool high school lists, that could stand for Frequently ARGUED question. So many parents somehow think that is cheating. Or they will argue that a ten year old doesn’t think like a high schooler so it can’t be high school work (that was in a recent college reading list discussion). I have seen folks argue even about work done in a students “8th grade” year. Talk about getting stuck in a public school mentality!!

  3. You’re so right. Unfortunately, the bondage of legalistic thinking seems to be comfortable for some, and they will sometimes take it even further than the traditional school system!

    When I was in middle school, one of my friends was a boy who left school early several afternoons a week to go to high school (and eventually to college) to take all the higher math classes the middle school didn’t offer. Even the traditional schools didn’t see a point in wasting his time and holding him back when he was perfectly capable of doing the work. He was able to move forward quickly, and build upon a very wide knowledge base when he got to college.

    It’s obvious that age is one of the least reliable ways to judge someone’s maturity (just think of the people you know– some are sober-minded from a very young age, while others think immaturely at 45).

    Understanding and knowledge are based on the accumulation and connection of ideas, and some people are much better at it than others. Unfortunately, it seems that the ones who are least adept at knowledge accumulation are the ones who cling to arbitrary time schedules. If a student is excited about a subject and can easily understand it, forcing him or her to move slowly through it, at the pace of someone who doesn’t get it, is enough to permanently kill all interest and excitement.

    It always makes me sad to see a young person held back and imprisoned within a rigid structure of age and grade, when many students are capable of so much more. It kills the spirit to be constantly frustrated and held back, and many students end up thinking that learning is boring and they want no more of it. They scrape by, doing the bare minimum, because busywork is substituted for knowledge, and they are not challenged or engaged.

    The thing that ultimately matters is that knowledge is gained. It doesn’t matter when, where, or how. If a foundation of knowledge is laid, it can be built upon.

    As I have evaluated academic essays over the years, I have seen dramatic proof of this. A widely-read 10-year-old from a literate family will almost always write a better, more insightful essay than a 16-year-old student who reads only for school assignments and does only age-graded written work.

    As Charlotte Mason said, “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” If young people are allowed to accumulate knowledge as early as they are ready, and advance as quickly as they need to in order to remain challenged and engaged, there would be many, many students who truly enjoyed learning, and who understood that education is not in “doing school,” but is in doing life.

  4. Teresa says:

    I disagree about recording on a transcript that the 10 yo took calc. unless the parent plans on graduating him/her early. Colleges want to know what the student did the 4 yrs before coming to their school.

    If the goal is to show that the student TOOK the class, then sure, record when it was taken. But you can bet that an admission counselor who sees that Johhny took Calc in “4th grade” had better have an ACT or SAT to back that up if you want to get the credit!

    A better thing to do is to have the student take CLEP and/or AP tests after finishing advanced classes. The CLEP scores can be banked for 20 yrs. Then there is high school AND college credit.

  5. I have heard the idea that “Colleges want to know what the student did the 4 yrs before coming to their school” expressed a few times before, so when I was working on the 3rd edition of Transcripts Made Easy, I interviewed a number of college counselors across the country, and worked part time in a college admissions office as a homeschool admissions counselor for two years.

    Based on both my experience and my research, I assure you that colleges want to know IF your student has studied the classes required for admission. None of the counselors that I talked to had any issue about when a class was done, just whether it was done.

    That said, I don’t think it’s necessary to point out exactly when the class was taken. Transcripts can be organized by subject, with all the classes of each subject listed in sequence. If someone has a student who does their first high school math in 7th grade, and their first high school English in 8th grade, those classes would appear as the first class of the subject sequence. Does that make sense?

    If the student ends up taking more than the standard four credits worth of a subject, you can just record the four highest-level classes, if you’re more comfortable doing it that way. Colleges don’t usually mind seeing more credits than average, though. They realize that homeschoolers sometimes have expanded opportunities and are simply able to fit in more than a traditionally-schooled student.

    Of course, if you’ve read much of my stuff, you know that I am a huge advocate of getting a jump start on college by taking CLEPs. After all, I wrote the book on it;-) [http://www.GetAJumpStartOnCollege.com]! All my boys did it, and it was a wonderful experience for our family. For us, anything else would have been a waste of their time.

    Thank you for stopping by to comment!

  6. Karen Davis says:

    Janice, it is nice to know that you talked to a number of college counselors in your research. The hardest part about homeschooling high school with the intent of going on to college is that there are so many variations. Of course, this is also a good thing, but that is hard to see when you sometimes just want to know what to do. I am glad that you are speaking from a wider experience than simply “this is how I got my Johnny into State U.”

  7. Diane says:

    We just applied to James Madison University and at the bottom of the online high school transcript form, they had a section for entering the high school level courses taken prior to entering high school! So universities do want to know about all courses taken at the high school level regardless of when they were taken.

  8. Donna Fletcher says:

    Janice I have been homeschooling my grandson who is now 16 yrs old and wants to go back to school. I did not keep my paper work very organized and now I am running out of time. I called the book store here in Southlake, Texas and they said your book is out of print. Can I still get this or is it not available any place.

    Thank you I really have my back up against the wall.

    donna in Texas

  9. Donna Fletcher says:

    Janice, my name is donna in Texas. I just sent you a message about you book Transcripts Made Easy. It is out of print here in Southlake Texas and I want to know is it available any place.

    Thank you, if you could e-mail me I would appreciate it.

    donna

  10. Don’t worry, Donna– the book is definitely NOT out of print, nor will it be in the foreseeable future!

    You can get it at http://www.TranscriptsMadeEasy.com. It’s available as a paperback book or as an instantly downloadable e-book.

    The bookstore must not have had their “Books In Print” resource available;-).

    Blessings,
    Janice

  11. Linda Perrone says:

    My granddaughter is homeschooling and is taking a biology course. We’ve been trying to find out how many hours she needs to log in to meet the requirements for a three hour biology course (required by most colleges). She lives in Missouri, and will go to a local junior college upon graduation from highschool. Thank you for any help you can provide.

    • Hi, Linda-
      I assume you’re speaking of a biology course with hands-on lab work. The requirement for that is usually about 160 hours, but I recommend checking the requirements of specific colleges your granddaughter is considering, as they may differ. She may want to consider taking an AP or CLEP test when she completes her study, in order to provide an objective confirmation of the grade on her transcript. I hope that’s helpful!
      Blessings,
      Janice

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