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Homeschool Transcript Service: Q&A


Have a question not listed below? Send an e-mail to transcript@heav.org.

Q. What is a transcript? 
A. A transcript is an official record of all the academic courses, enrichment classes, and electives that your high school student has completed during his high school years. A grade, points, and credits are also assigned to each completed course. A high school transcript is necessary for college applications, trade schools, military recruiters, and employers who require proof of education. College admissions review boards must have a transcript that is clear, concise, and limited to one or two pages. Transcripts are also usually required during the application process for scholarships awarded by colleges and private groups. Transcripts are also used by coaches for recruiting purposes and are required for NCAA eligibility.

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Q. When should I begin keeping a record of high school courses?
A. Whenever your student begins high-school-level courses, you should keep a record of the name of each course and each semester’s final grade, along with the year’s final grade and credits attributed to each course. (See credit information below.) You can easily develop your course record by using the Transcript Worksheet (886). Simply fill in the courses for each year, and the grades for each semester.

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Q. What do I do with high-school-level courses my child completed before grade nine?

A. A transcript is a record of the last four years of high school, so it typically begins at ninth grade. If you decide to add high-school level courses your child completed prior to ninth grade (often considered accelerated classes), then these accelerated courses would be listed with the grade nine courses. Use an asterisk beside the course titles to indicate you are providing more information. Then put a related asterisk with an explanation in the “Notes” field on the transcript. The additional information will provide an explanation of the high school courses that were completed prior to ninth grade.

When making the decision to add courses taken prior to grade nine, one important aspect to consider is how the reader, a college admissions officer, or a scholarship officer, will interpret the transcript record. Public schools and private schools also accelerate coursework. Admissions officers are used to seeing, for example, Algebra 2 studied in ninth grade. In that case, successful completion of Algebra 1 is inferred. When a student has been accelerated, the admissions officer will look to see what he did with the opportunities afforded to him by acceleration. Taking the algebra example again, if his math coursework was accelerated, did he keep going in math through his senior year, taking advanced math, or did he stop math as soon as he completed algebra and geometry? Acceleration itself has little merit until the whole transcript record shows what he did with his accelerated opportunity. Admissions officers spend an average of four minutes doing the first read of your student’s entire application including transcript, and the most significant acceleration is completed in later academic years.

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Q. How do I decide course names? What if my course name doesn’t fit in the space?
A. 
If you used a textbook, you can usually use the textbook name as the course name. One of the advantages of homeschooling is that you are not locked into a curriculum or textbook, but are free to learn differently. If you have assembled your own course of study in a subject, you can choose a name that accurately represents the skills your student mastered. You may wish to look at a community college’s course offerings to get some ideas of standard class names. Again, the key is to make sure the course name accurately captures the subject studied or skills acquired.

In order to display properly on the transcript, you will need to limit your course name to 45 characters, including spaces. If your course name is too long, it is perfectly acceptable to abbreviate words. For example, “Geometry” can be abbreviated as “Geom.” and “Trigonometry” as “Trig.” As long as the meaning remains clear, college admissions officers and employers should not mind abbreviations.

Important! If your student has completed an AP or college course, be sure to indicate that in your course title. (Example: John Tyler Community College Chemistry II; AP World History, etc.) The transcript uses an un-weighted 4.0 scale, so you should indicate any higher-level courses in the course titles.Alternately, you could use the note feature (see Note information below) to mark all your AP or college courses.

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Q. Is there a requirement for high school homeschoolers to have two years of P.E.? Also, where on a transcript do I give credit for P.E. and driver’s education?

A. Homeschoolers are not required to have two years of physical education. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not require homeschool parents to teach specific subjects during the high school years.

Our website includes general guidelines and samples of subjects that are typically taught during the high school years (see the links below). Colleges, technical schools, the military, or employers look for these subjects in order to evaluate a student’s readiness to enter the field for which he is applying.

Sample Highschool Programs
Typical Course of Study High School Program

Although homeschool parents are free to design a program of study that suits their student’s goals, they should consider including those subjects (like P.E.) that are typical for a well-rounded education. Homeschool parents are free to teach these subjects during any of the high school years, not necessarily during the years shown in the samples.

Both P.E. and driver’s education could be listed as electives. The parent can decide to give 1/2 to 1 credit for each of these subjects. Often, 1/2 credit is given for non-academic subjects that are completed in half a year or less. The credit value is determined by the parent.

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Q. What should I put in the Note field? 
A. If you need to make notes about any courses on your transcript, you can put an asterisk or marking next to the course name. For example, you can use asterisks next to your course names to indicate AP, honors, online, college, or advanced courses, or other special notes.) Please use the note field to define what the asterisks next to the course names mean. Whatever you put here will appear on the final transcript; the field is limited to 60 characters.

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Q. How do I assign grades? 
A. At the completion of your student’s course, you will assign both a semester grade and a final grade (A=Excellent, B=Good, C=Average, D=Poor, F=Failure).Be consistent in your grade assignment—this is no place for emotional entanglement! Teachers do not give students grades; students earn grades. Parent-teachers simply record them accurately and honestly. Planning your objectives for learning will help you make strategic assignments and identify the levels of achievement that deserve an A, B, C, D, or F. You will be asked to give your grading scale (A=90-100, B=, etc.), and this information will appear on the final transcript. You may also select “Pass” or “Fail” for courses you do not wish to assign a grade (note that pass/fail courses will NOT factor into the GPA but will show up in the total credits).

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Q. How do I assign grades for fall and spring semesters if I don’t use a semester system for my homeschool curriculum?
A. Not every homeschool family will use a semester system. In order to have a standardized transcript, you can easily adapt your grades to a semester format. Begin by reviewing the level and quality of work the student completed from the beginning to the middle of your school year. Translate that work into a grade (either A, B, C, D, or F) for the first half of the course, which you will call the first semester. Do the same for the second half of the course.

After you have assigned the fall and spring semester grades, look at those grades in context with the final grade you have assigned. Do the fall and spring semester grades correlate with the final grade? For example, if you have assigned a B for the fall semester and a C for the spring semester, but had already assigned an A for the final grade, your semester grades do not correlate with the final grade. On the other hand, if your student earned an A in the fall semester and a B in the spring semester, then an appropriate final grade could fall anywhere between and an A and a B, but not below.

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Q. What are grade points and how do I assign a point for a course completed?
A. After the final grade is assigned, the system will automatically assign grades for you using the guidelines below.

A = 4 grade points multiplied by the credits assigned to that course
B = 3 grade points multiplied by the credits assigned to that course
C = 2 grade points multiplied by the credits assigned to that course
D = 1 grade point multiplied by the credits assigned to that course
F = 0 grade points multiplied by the credits assigned to that course

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Q. What is a GPA?
A. GPA (grade point average) is determined each year by totaling the number of grade points earned then dividing that number by the total number of credits completed. The HEAV Transcript service will automatically assign the GPA for you based on the grades and credits you enter.

The transcript you will be completing through HEAV’s transcript service will be based on an un-weighted, 4.0 scale, meaning every course will be assigned points based on the straightforward grading system shown above. It is important to follow this system exactly and NOT to add or subtract points based on the difficulty or level of the course (including AP and college courses). If your student has completed college- or AP-level courses, you should specify this in the course title. (Example: John Tyler Community College Chemistry II; AP World History, etc.)

College admissions officers are quite comfortable with using an un-weighted scale and will know to look in the course titles for this information. The fact that the transcript is based on an un-weighted scale will be clearly marked on the final transcript.

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Q. What is a credit, and how do I calculate how many credits my student has completed?
A.
 As soon as your student begins high-school-level courses, it is important to keep a record of the credits or units that each individual subject is worth. Credits are recorded on a cumulative record called a transcript. Traditionally, achieving a predetermined number of “credits” in selected subjects is a way of showing a high school course of study is complete. A homeschool parent determines the subjects and number of credits necessary to complete a high school course of study.

College admissions departments, trade schools, military recruiters, and employers who require proof of education are accustomed to seeing transcripts that include Carnegie units, also known as “credits.” It is good to use a system that is familiar to those who make educational decisions—such as colleges or the military—and that corresponds to ones used by traditional schools.

One Carnegie unit or credit can represent from 120 to 150 hours of study for each course. Generally, 50 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for 36 weeks per year will equal approximately 120-150 hours of work.

150 hours is the average for a year-long academic course such as English or history. The lower range—120 hours—is appropriate for an elective. You can also give half-credit for an elective that takes only 60 hours during the semester or year.

Be sure to include appropriate seminars, lectures, field trips, tours, hobbies, and vacations as you compile your course hours. While these may not stand alone as subjects, they can be combined with other studies in a course.

Remember, DO NOT count time spent on one particular activity as credits for two different subjects. Activities can be divided, but they should not be counted twice.

Dual-enrollment credits (credits for a college course taken during high school) are calculated differently. A one-semester college course will typically earn three college credits; while at the same time, it can earn one credit as a full-year high school course.

Having said all this, there are other, simpler ways of calculating a credit. With the efficiency of home education, you can complete more academic work in a shorter period of time. Because of this, the “hours” calculation of a Carnegie unit may not be suited to your homeschool. Instead of calculating hours, a student could earn one credit for completing 80% of a textbook that takes approximately a year to finish. Or satisfactory completion of a final exam may earn one credit. Even completion of a special project or research paper can earn a course credit.

Regardless of the method you use to calculate Carnegie units, you do not have to be a “clock watcher.” With a reasonable application of this process, you can standardize your transcript in a way that will be acceptable to those who will review your student’s course work.

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Q. How many credits does my homeschooled student need to complete before graduation? 
A. Parents determine when the course of study they planned has been completed. For public school students, the Virginia Department of Education states that “to graduate with a Standard Diploma, a student must earn at least 22 standard units of credit by passing required courses and electives.”

While the number of credits listed above is only for public school students, they can be used as a guideline for homeschooled students.

Students who plan to attend college should not limit themselves to 22 credits. They should take additional challenging coursework, earning 26 to 28 credits in order to be competitive for college acceptance.

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Q. What courses does my homeschooled student need to complete in order to graduate? 
A. A parent determines the courses that a homeschooled student must complete in order to graduate. Course selection should be based on preparing for college or the workforce. A typical course of study would include the following:

  • 4 years of English
  • 2–4 years of math
  • 2–4 years of science
  • 2–4 years of history
  • 2 years of a foreign language
  • 2 years of health & physical education
  • Electives
  • Extracurricular activities

If your student plans to attend college, college admissions officers will be looking for completion of particular courses. Early in your high school student’s course of study, you should research the prerequisites of the colleges your student is interested in attending and keep that in mind when determining his high school plan. Note that sometimes colleges will make exceptions to their prerequisites; however, getting a feel for their requirements can be helpful in determining your student’s courses.

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Q. The college requires that I present a transcript before my homeschooled student has completed his coursework for his senior year. What do I do?
A. If a transcript is needed before completion of all the high school courses, fill out the Transcript Worksheet (886) as completely as possible. A course that is presently being taken may be listed, but DO NOT assign a grade that has not yet been earned. The transcript may be sent to the college admissions office prior to the final grade assignment. After your student’s school year is complete, most colleges require that the final official transcript be sent to the admissions office before enrollment is approved. Simply send us your changes to the grade 12 information and reorder a copy of your transcript. We’ll then send you your final transcript–it’s that easy! Cost for reorders: $10 each for non-HEAV-members and $9 for HEAV members.

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Q. Why should I use a transcript service for high school at home?
A. You may create your own transcript. However, this service is designed both to significantly simplify the process and to offer a professional-looking, standardized transcript you can give to colleges or employers.

Also, college admissions officers have complained that many homeschool transcripts are non-standard in appearance and content. Some are difficult to read, include unnecessary information, and do not make clear references to grades or grade-point averages. Rather than taking time to decipher inconsistent content or a confusing style, the evaluator of these transcripts may toss them into the trashcan. HEAV’s transcript service provides the clear and concise information colleges and employers desire. They are also professional-looking and printed on secure paper that cannot be copied.

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Q. Why isn’t there a spot for me to enter my student’s Social Security Number?
A. While some transcripts do have Social Security Numbers on them, HEAV has verified with colleges that they are not needed. To protect your privacy, they are not incorporated on this form.

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