Whether a parent is seriously considering homeschooling during high school, or someone is just curious about how a parent accomplishes the task of fulfilling graduation requirements as a homeschooler, the questions most often asked are:
- What counts as a high school credit?
- How many credits do they need to graduate?
- What do colleges want to see on transcripts?
- How do I create a transcript?
- Can I award a ‘legal’ high school diploma?
The first two were answered in the previous post, How to… create a course of study and count high school credits Part 1. This post is in answer to the last three.
I’m going to answer the last question first- yes, a parent homeschooling in accordance with the statutes in their state can award a ‘legal’ high school diploma. I believe the underlying question is often “What about accreditation?” Parents want to know if the piece of paper they give their child carries the same weight as the piece of paper given out at the local high school.
The fact is that accreditation does not indicate the quality of the education a child will receive at an elementary or high school, many private schools are accredited by different accrediting agencies, or unaccredited altogether. Colleges are well-acquainted enough with homeschooling in today’s world that questions of accreditation as a homeschooler are moot.
College accreditation is a completely different question, and one that I can address more in another post.
What do colleges want to see on transcripts? This is actually two different questions. A transcript should primarily be an accurate record of your child’s high school course of study, grade point average, number of credits earned, as well as extra-curricular activities, apprenticeships, volunteerism, employment, special projects or awards…
For parents of college-bound students, the crux of the matter is “How do we create a course of study that will be impressive and help my child get accepted to the college of their choice?”
Think of your transcript as the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of your high school life. College admissions not only want to know your GPA, but if the courses you took were challenging. A high grade point average is only as impressive as the difficulty level of the course content.
You won’t have a class rank as a homeschooler, but even in a traditional high school, class rank only means as much as the quality of the curriculum.
Extra-curricular activities tell the story of what you care about as a person. Are you an entrepreneur? A humanitarian? An athlete? An artist or musician? Your transcript should show how you chose to use your time outside of ‘school’ to become a well-rounded person. Did you take part in academic competitions, science or history fairs, a speech and debate team, community theater? The more information you include, the more you become a whole, real person to the admissions officer.
Knowing all of this will help you chart your course of study by what you want to be able to say about yourself when you graduate.
The transcript itself is just a form used to keep all these records organized in a format that is easily read and understood. We again take a page from donnayoung.org for an idea of what a transcript can look like. You can also see samples at the bottom of this page at the HSLDA website. If you know how to make a spreadsheet, you can design your own transcript and organize the information by subject or by year, as well as leaving room for recording all those activities and projects that rounded out your homeschool education experience.
If you already have some ideas about the colleges your child is interested in, start researching course requirements for those schools, make some phone calls and appointments to meet admissions counselors, survey a couple of classes, and hone in on those subjects and activities that will most benefit your child’s education experience and prepare them for college, a vocation, and future as a responsible, productive adult.
Don’t allow this process to remain a source of mystery or anxiety- use this opportunity to show your children how to research, make phone calls, ask intelligent questions; not just charting their course of study for high school, but giving them the tools to chart their course for life.