Phobias cause people to shake, faint or lose sleep. For homeschool parents who teach their teens at home, the most frequent cause of quivering and insomnia is transcript-phobia! Let us help you overcome this fear, calm your nerves, and provide reassurance because you can definitely create a professional-looking transcript for your teen. For parents who would like in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts, consider purchasing our new e-book, Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript.
Definition of a Transcript
A transcript is the academic record of your teen’s high school coursework. To create a transcript for your teen, you’ll need to keep good records because they provide the data to include on the transcript.
There is no standard transcript format that all high schools use nationwide; however, the information typically found on all transcripts is generally the same. Transcripts contain four main sections:
- Personal and homeschool information
- Courses completed (including course title, final grade, and credit earned)
- Academic summary (including total credits and cumulative grade point average)
- Self-certification, signature, and date
Before we look at each section in detail, it’s helpful to first understand why a transcript is necessary.
Purposes of a Transcript
Every homeschool student should have a transcript. Colleges, employers, military, scholarship committees, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and others (such as insurance companies for good student driver discounts) may request your teen’s transcript. This important document gives a concise record of your teen’s high school coursework and summarizes your teen’s academic abilities.
Some parents mistakenly assume that a transcript is unnecessary if it is not needed directly following graduation. This simply is not the case. We’ve counseled more than a few parents who did not prepare a transcript for their teens, and then many years after graduation, their young adults needed a transcript for job security clearances, enrollment in certification programs, or qualifying for financial aid, and the list goes on. You’ll save much time and frustration if you prepare a transcript for your teen while he is in high school.
Sections of a Transcript
- Personal student and homeschool information: Typically found at the top of the transcript, this section contains the student’s full name, address, phone number, email address, birth date, and parents’ names. Also list your teen’s graduation date (month, day, year) or anticipated graduation date (month and year) if the student has not yet graduated. We recommend that you do not include your teen’s social security number. Most college and job applications request the social security number, so there is no reason to include it on the transcript. Across from the student’s personal information, provide your homeschool information. You may choose a name for your homeschool (for example, Smith Homeschool Academy) and provide your street address, phone number, email address, and contact name. Although this may be a duplication of some of your teen’s personal information (such as street address), it will help the reader to know whom to contact should questions arise.
- Academic Record of CoursesThis section forms the body of the transcript. Most transcripts use the grade-level format which lists courses by grade level (9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th) and school year (for example, 2015-2016). The school year is hyphenated because it typically begins in the fall of one calendar year and ends in the spring of the next calendar year. Another transcript format option is the subject transcript. List courses by subject area (such as English, math, science, history, foreign language, and electives) rather than by grade level. Although the grade level format and the subject format include the same kinds of information, the subject transcript format may be a better option for two situations:
- For students who are advanced and may finish high school in three years rather than the customary four years.
- For students who require five years to complete high school rather than the customary four years
Once you choose your transcript format, then you are ready to list the high school courses your teen has completed. For each course, indicate the course title, final grade, and credit earned. Course titles should be brief but descriptive, and they should reflect the content of the course. For example, Saxon’s Advanced Math book covers pre-calculus and trigonometry, so a good course title would be “Pre-calculus/Trigonometry” rather than “Advanced Math.” In order to give your teen a final grade, determine before the course begins how you will evaluate your teen’s coursework. You will find detailed information to help you “Streamline the Grading Process,” and this short video gives some grading tips. Next indicate the credit each course has earned. For more information read “Three Proven Methods to Determine High School Credit” or watch this short video because it provides the highlights for how to evaluate credit. The transcript should list all courses completed to date. In addition, at the start of each school year, add the course titles for courses your teen is currently taking, indicate an “IP” in the final grade column for “in progress,” and indicate the credit the courses will earn when completed. At the end of the year, you will replace the “IP” with the final letter grade.
- Academic Summary on the Transcript: We recommend that you calculate your teen’s yearly grade point average (GPA) and credits completed to date. The GPA provides a quick assessment of your teen’s academic abilities. Learn more about what a GPA demonstrates and how to calculate both yearly and cumulative GPAs in this newsletter. Grade level transcript formats include both yearly and cumulative grade point averages while subject transcript formats include only one cumulative GPA.
- Self-certification and Signature: At the bottom of the transcript, include a self-certification statement such as I do hereby self-certify and affirm that this is the official transcript and record of Jane B. Smith in the academic studies of 20XX – 20XX. The transcript should include a signature line and date (when the transcript is signed). One or both parents may sign the transcript, and it is a good idea to provide a title such as Administrator, Parent, Teacher, Principal, or another title you deem appropriate.
- For parents who seek a quick and easy way to create a transcript, consider HSLDA’s Fast Transcript service. The program prompts parents to enter personal information and academic course titles, credits, and grades. Then the service automatically calculates relevant GPAs and produces a professionally formatted transcript. Voila! Any time you need a copy of your teen’s transcript, you simply print one off your computer. Fast Transcripts offers a watermark option. Some institutions may request that the transcript be printed on watermark paper to ensure that the transcript has not been tampered with in any way.
- Purchase our new e-book Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript for in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.
- We strongly recommend that you have someone review your transcript. Ask them to look for typos, verify GPA calculations, consider course titles, and check credit evaluations. A free transcript review is a wonderful benefit for HSLDA members (join here). Carol or Diane would be happy to review your teen’s transcript when you send a transcript as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your current HSLDA membership number. We suggest you plan for a one-week window for the review.
- Watch this short transcript video to understand the basics of transcript preparation.
- HSLDA offers samples of transcripts as well as several free blank templates to help you get started.
- If your teen completes any high school courses prior to 9th grade, read this blog to understand considerations before listing certain courses on the transcript.
We hope this information has provided a cure for transcript-phobia or at least alleviated most symptoms! As indicated earlier, we encourage you to begin creating the transcript as soon as your teen completes any high school-level courses, then simply add to it each subsequent year of high school. This provides plenty of time to polish the transcript along the way rather than delaying until the night before an important deadline! With all the HSLDA resources offered above, you can create an excellent transcript for your teen.
Join us next month as we look at the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.
Giving thanks for you and your investment in your teens,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants