Unschooling Transcripts

Lots of people worry about how to create transcripts – especially unschoolers. How do you translate Real Life into some educational language? Especially if you’ve spent the entire time living as if school and all of its trappings don’t matter!

First, let me reassure you, school trappings – grades, courses, subjects, GPAs – none of them matter in real life. Real life is more like a giant tapestry with everything intricately woven together.

But if your teen is trying to get into a technical school, a vocational program, a community college, or any “higher learning” institution, one way to do it is to switch gears a little and give them what they want to get in the door. That’s what we did. Others can share their more creative approaches, but we opted to make it look traditional. We saw that the admissions clerk was simply trying to mark off boxes on her checklist. She didn’t care that Michael studied Japanese in a 4H Exchange program or that Alyssa spent a year in an organic make-up internship or that Katie studied Shakespeare through multiple theatre productions. All they really wanted to see was a date and an official looking signature, signing them off as “graduated.”

So here’s what we did:

Alyssa’s transcript has grades on it, mainly because we had them. She went to high school for a year and a half, so we plugged those classes into the transcript. I suppose I could have assigned grades to Katie’s transcripts, but they didn’t ask for it, and I didn’t give more than they needed to meet the criteria. Also, FYI: your state determines how many credits a teen needs in high school, so you might look at a local public high school website and see what their credit requirements are. That will give you a number to be sure you include.

More Resources:
Unschooling Recordkeeping
Unschooling Mom2Mom Collection on Recordkeeping

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16 Responses to Unschooling Transcripts

  1. Tina H. says:

    Thanks for this. I would like to add that what states require for public school graduation is not always (or even often) the same as what is expected of homeschool students. If a state homeschool law specifies a certain number of credits, that’s one thing but I don’t think we should ever encourage homeschoolers to give any credence to public school requirements unless that is also a homeschool requirement by law.

    • Sue says:

      I think that’s a good point to emphasize, Tina. Over-supplying of info never works out well for the homeschooling community in general.

      My reason for doing this very schoolish-looking transcript was because I knew that the admissions office was not aware of what the legal expectations were for homeschoolers. And I wanted my kids to have smooth sailing in getting through their process.

      The state of Texas, where we live, considers homeschoolers to be in private schools. Legally, there’s no stipulation about anything other than a general requirement to include Reading, Math, Good Citizenship, Spelling and Grammar.

      But when a college asks for a transcript, I know they want to see more than that on there. They’re not asking us for something different from what they ask other graduates from brick and mortar schools.

      I think this makes it a little different from what you’re saying, Tina. We just wanted to get through the process easily.

  2. Rachel Smith says:

    This is awesome, and very simple. Thank you!

  3. Anjelica says:

    Thank you so much for this!!! This was very informative and helpful.

  4. Pam says:

    Thank you very much for this information and the two examples!

  5. Heidi says:

    So, did you test your kids? I struggle to add a grade because we have never really tested anyone. If you got it right you move on, if not you redo it. Yikes, now I need to create a transcript.

    • Sue Patterson says:

      Hi Heidi, we didn’t test the kids.
      Well, we did one time when we were part of a Charter school program and wanted their stuff. We left the following year. (but that’s another story!)

      You can add the grade that you want to add. Truth is, no one really cares! If they tried hard at it, and it looked good, I gave them an A. If they didn’t care about it much, I may have given a C. Colleges were going to do their own assessments anyway, so none of it matters.

      The other thing I wanted to mention about that idea of making them redo it if it’s wrong. That means you’re aiming for 100% mastery? That seems a little excessive for every subject. Sometimes, having an overview and knowing you can come back to it if you have a question, is enough. Just a thought.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Kila says:

    This was so helpful! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Marcy says:

    Thanks, Sue. My son attended public school for 9, 10, and part of 11th grade. He finished 11th at home, so I am assigning grades for that year. (Required to register at college) You included the grades your daughter received from her public school years. Since they are on record at the school, did you need to include them and do you need to include the student attended the public school? Thanks for your help. Our situation seems unique, and I can’t find any help for my questions.

    • Marcy says:

      Sorry…typo! Do we have to report which public schools the child attended, aside from our homeschool?

    • Sue Patterson says:

      Marcy, I just included those grades because we had them. No one is going to compare your records with the school’s… if that’s what you mean. And, really, unless you’re going for some academic scholarship, it doesn’t really matter if the grades aren’t that great. Hope that helps a little.

  8. Angel Beattie says:

    I’m in Oklahoma which is very lenient. We are moving from complete workbook schooling to unschooling. My daughter desires to go to college. She will start high school this year. My question is how do I teach English 1, 2, 3 and 4 without a workbook? That’s the one subject I’m worried about.

    • Sue Patterson says:

      You don’t need to break it up like that, Angel. Do they read? Do they text? Do they watch documentaries or movies that are literature-based? Maybe they’d be interested in writing fan fiction or Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). All of these can help build the foundations for the college classes they’ll take down the road. Then they can take community college classes – unschoolers often take them around 16 or 17 (although that may vary based on the state). They could take English classes at community college and they’d be good to go! Ready to transfer.

      If you’d like to talk specifically about what your daughter is interested in, I’d be happy to help you figure out how to help her get ready in a way that she’d enjoy. And, more likely than not, find things she’s already doing that actually *count* for her transcript! Hop onto my calendar and let’s set up an appointment! Or join my coaching group that starts January 15th! We can talk about these kinds of questions so you’ll feel more confident – all for only $60! 🙂

      For the 1:1 appointment: http://www.SuePatterson.com/make-an-appointment
      For the group coaching course: http://www.SuePatterson.com/private-groups

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