High School Helpline typography
with Cheryl A. Bastian
Homeschooling high school doesn’t have to be overwhelming! We’re tackling some of the most common questions parents ask about it and sharing simple action steps to make it easy.
I’ve been asked to provide a transcript for my high school learner. Where do I start?
Take a deep breath. Don’t be intimidated. This document can be created following just six simple steps.

The transcript is a summary—a one-page, visual representation—of a high schooler’s academic record. Though pulling together the information for this document can feel weighty and challenging, it is simply a listing of courses, grades, and credits completed by the learner. Simplifying the process, taking one step at a time, can alleviate stress and concern.

Step 1:
Find a transcript template online or create one that works for your learning environment.
“I am not sure which format to use.”
There are two types of transcripts: chronological (records courses by year, ninth through twelfth) and subject (core courses—English, math, social sciences, natural sciences, and world languages—grouped together). Chronological is the most common format used and familiar to college admissions. If you are preparing the transcript for a college, keep in mind some universities provide templates on their sites for your convenience. Unless the recipient specifies or requires a particular transcript format, choose what will best represent your high schooler’s learning.
Step 2:
Fill in titles.
“I need help with this step. In fact, I didn’t keep as many records as I thought.”
Gather or access records you’ve compiled. If record keeping wasn’t as thorough as you hoped or you forgot important details, your high schooler can be your greatest resource to fill in missing pieces. I’ve learned my high schoolers offer a broader understanding of the content they’ve mastered, particularly for independent studies, educational experiences, or personal interests which equated to significant elective credits.

Beginning with the ninth-grade year, or with English courses for subject-based transcripts, list completed courses. When choosing titles, select something traditional (English 1, English 2, United States History, World History, Nutrition and Wellness) or more specific (English 1/Survey of American Literature, European History, Competitive Fencing, Auto Mechanics). Most families choose a combination of traditional and specific.

Step 3:
Add grades and assign credit.
“I kept grades for some subjects.
Where do I begin?”
Enter a grade for each course. Some assignments are easier to grade, particularly objective courses with right or wrong answers. For those courses, translate the percentage to a letter-grade equivalent.

Courses that include papers and projects are more subjective, therefore they are more susceptible to bias or opinion. These grades can be determined by a rubric, content mastery, work ethic or a combination of the three. As the person overseeing the learner’s work, you decide the best way to determine an accurate grade. If grades were not calculated at the time work was complete, go back, figure percentages, and assign grades. For non-traditional courses, when completion equates mastery—First Aid, Music Theory and Performance, Entrepreneurship—it can be helpful to think with adjectives when describing content, effort, and work ethic: excellent and superior (A), commendable and above average (B), adequate and average (C), or minimal and insufficient (D). Once all the grades are entered, credit can be awarded.

Credit is awarded according to the high schooler’s learning/study hours for each course. Understanding that homeschooling leans toward tutorial instruction and can be more efficient, each family decides the number of hours per credit based on their home education program and state homeschooling statute requirements; typically, from 120 to 150 hours. In other words, if a learner put seventy-five hours toward learning Driver’s Education, the course would be awarded .5 credit. Textbook-based courses like Algebra 1 are assumed to be one credit no matter how long it takes to master the content.

Step 4:
Calculate the GPA.
“I don’t understand the difference between weighted and unweighted, yearly GPA and cumulative.”
Grade Point Average, GPA, is derived by assigning points to letter grades and dividing the total points by the number of credits earned. The most common scale, unweighted, is a 4-point scale: 4 points for an A, 3 points for a B, 2 points for a C, and 1 point for a D.

Challenging courses—Honors, Advanced Placement, and Dual Enrollment—earn more points, weighted, to reflect the rigorousness of the content. Though not all universities weight grades in the same manner, generally Honors courses receive an additional .5 weight, while AP and Dual Enrollment are awarded an additional 1 point, elevating those courses to either a 4.5-point scale or 5-point scale. After assigning a point value to each grade, the point value is multiplied by the credit earned for the course; for example, 4 points x .5 credit would be 2 points. This point value is calculated for each course and those points are added. Divide the total by the total number of credit hours to determine the GPA for the academic year. Repeat the process to find the cumulative GPA of all courses completed. Thankfully, online GPA calculators are available and can be a welcomed resource!

Step 5:
Tailor the transcript to the graduate.
“My high school student didn’t take college entrance tests but accomplished many other achievements.”
High school is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Some learners excel at test taking while other high school students accumulate hundreds of service hours or earn tremendous accolades. As space allows, add sections for test scores, community service hours, and achievements or awards as applicable to the student. The transcript is a snapshot of not only the academic record, but also the person applying for employment or admission. Let the transcript be that accurate reflection.
Step 6:
Review and Edit.
“I don’t feel confident to catch my errors.”
Ask someone else to look over the completed transcript for spacing, spelling, and capitalization errors. Fresh eyes help locate mistakes and offer insight as to what may be missing. I always have my husband look over the document and recalculate the GPA before the final signature and subsequent submission.

The very last item needed to complete the document is a signature. With that addition, the high schooler’s transcript is ready for submission. YOU did it! Well done.

Cheryl Bastian headshot

heryl Bastian has been married to Mike for twenty-eight years and began homeschooling in 1993. A mother of eight children—toddler through adult—Cheryl knows the trials and triumphs of embracing each season of life and is passionate about equipping and inspiring parents who want to nurture a desire for lifelong learning in their children.