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How to Create a High School Transcript

by Janice Campbell Although there are many ways to approach high school record-keeping and transcripts, the ideal thing is to start planning while your student is still in middle school. A well-made transcript is like a resume―it summarizes your student’s knowledge and experience in a way that allows an evaluator to easily compare your student to others. For college-bound students, a transcript is a marketing tool that concisely showcases their achievements and demonstrates the breadth and depth of their studies.

There are basic subjects that need to be covered on every high school transcript, but just how you cover them depends upon the student’s goals and abilities. Minimum requirements for high school graduation include:
English (including Literature): 4 years
Math (Algebra I and higher): 3 to 4 years
Social Sciences (History, Government, Geography): 2 to 3 years
Lab Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics): 2 to 3 years
Foreign Language: 2 to 3 years
Arts (Visual and/or Performing): 1 year
Electives: 1 to 3 years


Consider Student’s Learning Style


As you decide how your student will cover these subjects, it is important to consider the student’s learning style, plans for the future, and the resources available. Just as in earlier grades, you’ll find that your student’s learning happens more easily when his learning style is considered. Auditory learners do very well with audio resources; visual learners do well with books; and kinesthetic learners do best when they can move around and experience learning in a hands-on way. Each of the required subjects can be covered in a way that fits the learner. 


Consider Student’s Future Plans


The second thing to consider while planning high school is the student’s plans for the future. If he or she is college-bound, you must not only keep excellent records, but you must also ensure that your student’s studies meet or exceed the profile of the desired college’s average student admitted. (You can usually discover this on the college website or in rating magazines such as the US News College Guide). State graduation requirements are minimums―it is the college’s expectations that should guide your planning.


Create the Transcript Template

As you reach the beginning of high school and start fulfilling requirements, take the time to create your blank transcript form on the computer. Decide on a format, and create the basic document, using the table function in your word processing program to keep the information structured (there are complete, step-by-step instructions in Transcripts Made Easy). Each transcript must have three sections: an Identification Section containing contact information for the student and school; a Course Record section, the main body of the transcript, containing the list of courses studied, grades received, and grade points granted; and a Basic Information Section containing the grading scale, a key to abbreviations, and a signature line for the certifying parent. This section may also contain important test scores, as well as awards and achievements.



When you have created the blank transcript form, you have a structure that makes it easy to fill in the blanks. You can even fill it in with an overview of your planned high school curriculum and save it as “Transcript Plan” or something similar. You may end up making small alterations or taking unforeseen electives, but chances are, your curriculum plan will be very similar to your student’s final transcript. Having an organized plan and a place to quickly and easily record exactly what you did, will help you feel much more relaxed and secure about homeschooling through high school.

Record the Grades

At the end of each semester, record your student’s grade, and make sure that the class is titled descriptively on the transcript. Rather than listing just “English” as the class title, choose a title that offers a little more information about what the student has covered. For example, you could list “English II: Survey of American Literature,” which indicates that this is the student’s second year of high school English, and that he or she did a survey course in American literature. Similarly, “Saxon Algebra I” is more descriptive than “Math I,” and “Western Civilization to 1608” is a better class name than “History.” Your goal is to provide enough specific information so that an evaluator can understand the scope of your student’s achievements.



Assign grades to each class as the student finishes the semester. Each letter grade has a numerical equivalent: A=4, B=3, C=2, and so forth. If the student is taking college-level classes, the grade points assigned would be weighted, or have an extra grade point added, so that A=5, B=4, etc. Honors classes are usually weighted by half a grade point, so that A=4.5, and so forth.

To calculate the grade-point average, add together all the grade points earned in the semester, and divide by the number of classes taken. Many colleges do not include Physical Education grades in the grade-point average.


To calculate the cumulative grade-point average, add together all the semester grade-point averages and divide by the number of semesters. Do not add the current semester to the previous cumulative grade-point average, or your total will not be correct. To make the process extra simple, you may want to visit the free GPA calculator on my website at FreeGPACalc.com. No matter how you figure the final grade-point average, you can be sure that each college that receives your transcript will refigure it to ensure that all student transcripts they receive are calculated in the same way. 



There is no single style of transcript that is the perfect format. As long as the three sections are included and standardized test scores support the grades you have given, your student’s transcript will be comparable in content and format to transcripts from traditional schools and will act as an overview of your student’s academic history. And best of all, it won’t be nearly as difficult as you feared!


Janice Campbell, author of Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler’s Guide to High School Paperwork and Get a Jump Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens, homeschooled her four boys from pre-school into college. Visit her blog at Janice-Campbell.com and sign up for her free e-newsletter at Everyday-Education.com. This article first appeared in TVHE, Spring 2008.

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