Sunday, January 11, 2009

Writing a Transcript

Where to begin is often the hardest part with anything this "official". I found that one of the tricks to remember is that my husband and I have been in charge of our children's schooling from the very beginning. Why would I approach this any differently. We are are still in charge and this official document will be created by us. This is not a stretch, even though it took me a while to feel that way.

Deciding to home school throughout high school was not an easy decision for us. I am so glad we did and I really feel it was the best approach. That is not the purpose of this post. We are here to discuss the transcript and how we did it.

When planning high school I did have an idea of the projected 4 years. I just found this free tool for helping to plan the 4 years. I didn't have it but it takes some of the work I did out of the mix. I knew in the end that the transcript would need to cover certain things to be usable to get my child into a college. I also know we needed it for scholarship applications as well. As the years went on I tried to make notes, some just mental, on all the projects that were accomplished. I didn't jot down every book read. I have friends that have done that but I didn't see the need. We made notes of all the extra curricular and the volunteer stuff as well.

A tool that I used to actually put it all together to look like a real transcript was a product called: TranscriptPro Home School Transcript Generator Developed by Inge P. Cannon and produced by Education Plus. I found this tool to honestly meet all the promises that it advertised. When it comes to organizing the information this tool is a Godsend and worth every penny I spent. I have the first edition and am limited to just 5 students. I noticed that the third edition limits you to 8.

We picked the look that most matched what we wanted and got started. It really was very simple plugging in our courses and assigning a grade. There are many tips out there on how to assign a grade and how to assign credit. We read them all and then with an educated mind made our own criteria. This was all while trying to remember that we were the teacher, principal, and administrator of the school.

Another good source for transcript information can be found at the HSLDA website. They even have examples in file format that you can play around with to create a transcript of your own. HSLDA Transcript information can be found here. As with everything HSLDA is a great resource.

In the end this is what I did. I searched out several examples. I found what I wanted the end result to look like. I knew my child's needs. She was using it to share just course information with the community college she was enrolling in. If she was applying for a traditional 4 year college without starting at the community college I know that the transcript might need to be tweaked a little different. So know your audience and what they are looking for.

I used the Transcript Pro product to calculate the Carnegie Units of Credit and the Grade Point Averages. I printed off their version then compared it to several copies of transcripts I found just doing a google image search. I then created one that worked best for our home school using a publication document creator from Microsoft. I did this because we never studied a foreign language. At least not hard enough to assign a credit to it. I didn't like the empty column generated from the program. We also never took classes from any other organization. She had very few standardized tests to report also.
In creating our own look within publisher I was careful to not get too creative so I followed the same format as the majority of others. I was once told by a college admissions director that it helps the college admission board to asses the home schooled student if their transcripts look like the rest. They are used to looking at those and can do so efficiently. So be careful and keep in mind that you don't want to look so different that your child's transcript gets put off because it can not be quickly reviewed. I added what she needed and took out what she didn't. In the end we had a beautiful document that accurately described her high school studies and accomplishments.

That is how I did it. If you don't want to get as creative and publish your own then use one of the many available generators. In the end the important thing is to remember you are the one that needs to do. Don't put it off. Just get it done! My daughter found such a wonderful sense of accomplishment when I should it to her. "Wow, I did do all that, didn't I? I really did do the school work just like my friends." We had never discussed grades, never. So when she actually saw what she had earned she grew very excited.

The good news is that we got it done without much issue. We are proud of the end result. We have used it to save money on car insurance (she had a B or better!) and is set up at the community college for classes next semester. We now have the official document to also send for her scholarship searches that she is now working on.

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