Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Official High School Transcripts

Why do homeschool students need a high school transcript?

College and universities admission boards like to see them.

Scholarship boards use them.

They can be used when entering the military (at least that's what I've heard from several different families with children in the armed forces).

Occasionally, a potential employer will ask for one.

Since we, as parents, won't live forever, it's nice for students to have some sort of academic record that will outlast us.

If your children are not going to take high school completion exams (HiSets or GEDs) then they will need something to show an official record.  A completed transcript and a notarized diploma can serve that purpose.

Which is more important - a high school transcript or a high school completion test score?

They are both important depending on your student's goals, but we've found transcripts open just about as many doors as HiSets or GEDs.

A (age 17) recently had an advisor at the college where she is dual-enrolled tell her that in order to receive an associates degree she would need to take the HiSet (high school equivalency exam) first.  I made a quick run into the administration office to double check the information, on my way to see about signing her up for the HiSet.  The first secretary I spoke to confirmed the information.  The administrator she pulled out of the back office told me that if our homeschool was accredited then all we would need was a transcript.

Drawing by E (age 14)
I asked him if he understood how homeschooling worked, and how unlikely it would be that an individual homeschool would be accredited?  It turned out that he was thinking of our being enrolled in some kind of accredited online program (not really homeschooling to my mind - but that's another post).  Then he asked me if we used an accredited curriculum.

I must have given him a blank stare, which he returned when I answered that we didn't use a curriculum.

He asked if we've at least met the state standards for high school credits.  I might have snorted (though I sincerely hope that was only in my head), and started to assure him we've more than exceeded the state educational standards - but then thought better of being snotty with a man whose help I needed (a college admission office is not the place to start a debate on the merits of homeschooling - especially when you're already in danger of looking like a crazy helicopter mom).

Anyway, I ended up assuring him we had no problem having A take the HiSet, but that it seemed a little redundant to me, for her to take a high school equivalency test by the time she would have earned enough college credits for an associates degree.

He agreed, and decided to check with his boss, just to be certain.

We received a call later that day from the head of the dual-enrollment program (the one who apparently had all the facts) letting us know that all we needed to do before A graduated was to bring in a copy of her high school transcript, and to print-up a diploma, and have it notarized - strange, but true, and who am I to argue?

The point of the story being - you are likely to be able to get by without a HiSet in most situations (even when dealing with the state university systems, and even if they start out trying to tell you otherwise), but a HiSet can make things simpler at the end of the day.

With that said, there are times that you absolutely will need to have a high school transcript on hand for your students as well.  We've had a couple of universities that did not want to see HiSet scores (in fact, acted like they didn't know what that test was), but instead wanted a transcript and an SAT score.

So, how do you create a transcript?

Like with most things homeschooling, it's easier than you might expect.  It's so easy, in fact, that I almost wouldn't have posted about it, except that it seems like every time I'm anywhere where homeschool mothers are gathered, it is one of the topics that comes up.

Does Pokémon GO count as gym class or geography?
Some colleges have a transcript form already for you to download and fill-in, or you can make your own form, or even better - just download one some other friendly homeschool mom has already put together.

I've used a free modifiable template from Pros and Cons of Homeschooling.  There are many, many others out there, but this is one I know works, and it includes a very simple explanation weighted and unweighted GPAs and how to figure them for your student.

We've been advised by college admissions offices that they like to see a GPA by year and an overall GPA.  In the beginning I tried to explain to them that we are essentially unschoolers, and don't give grades, so anything I put down on their transcripts would be a work of fiction (plausible, trying to be as factual as possible, but still fiction) - they didn't seem to mind.  Eventually I gave up trying to explain our situation, made up the grades, and moved on.

Once you have a form in hand, just plug-in the subjects your students have covered each year.  If you are using the transcript for college applications, you might want to double check what credits the schools your student is applying to require, just so you don't leave off a subject you've covered but didn't really consider important (remember a LOT of what we do everyday might not look academic, but might still easily tie into some school subject or other).

What about grades?

As I mentioned above, we don't keep a grade book, and our grading can be a little bit arbitrary.  It's not something we hide, or try to cover up, or to be flip about, it's just something we have to make work when it comes to college applications.

My main goal is to be fair to my children.  If I give them an A they didn't earn, they'll fall on their face in that subject later on, but on the other hand, I don't want to let my perfectionist tendencies hurt their scholarship chances either (and as mentioned above, high school GPAs taken from their transcripts are used for scholarship consideration).  As long as they've mastered a topic I give an A - and as I've said before, I figure SATs and college entrance exams will fill out the picture, and ultimately back up our grading choices.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

1 comment:

Ticia said...

It's quite reassuring to read your posts and see it's not as big a deal as people try to make it.