How to Make a Homeschool Transcript for High School

credits gpa high school graduation high school transcripts portfolio Oct 16, 2023
a picture of all the possibilities for high school transcripts

What exactly is a high school transcript and how is it created? Read on to learn the basics of creating an empowering homeschool transcript.

John 21:25 (ESV) "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

What exactly is a high school transcript and how is it created? It is a form on which has been recorded a student’s achievements and strengths. It contains completed course names, grades/credits earned and grade point average. Simple enough yet, at the mere mention of its name, has the ability to strike fear and confusion into the most stalwart homeschool mama.

Take a look at just one post on social media where a well-meaning woman has posted to get feedback on how to create high school transcripts for her children, and it’s surprising to see the myriad of answers including forms, tools, services, calculations, formulas and digits that are all over the place, yet oddly in the same ballpark.

When it came time for us to start thinking about creating transcripts for our kids, we were surprised at how intimidated and overwhelmed we felt. Throughout our years of public school teaching experiences, Kim created IEP’s, tracked progress and modified the goals they contained. Jenny developed and implemented teacher training programs to assist them in keeping achievement records through various curriculum programs. In spite of these teaching specialties, creating high school transcripts for our children had us shaking in our boots and seeking out mentors to help us weed through the misinformation that exists in homeschool platforms.

To take the fear and confusion out of the process for you, we’re sharing the important parts of high school transcripts and boiling down the basics  Let’s start at the beginning, which is to know where your child wants to land.

Know The End Goal:

Whether the transcript is used for applications for college, trade school, employment, or even if it's never needed, it’s a valuable tool which will empower the student, the parent teacher(s) and the family as a whole. It’s an amazing achievement to persevere through high school and the effort can be reflected in a well-crafted transcript.  Just like kids have different gifts and talents, each transcript will differ according to the topic of study for each individual student.

Of course, future goals don’t need to be set in stone, but exposure to and experience with various options that align with student goals will guide the contents of the transcript. Take time to look with your child at the admissions requirements for further education and/or qualifications for employment that align with their interests. This will ensure that when high school is completed, the transcript contains what they need to qualify for their next steps. If indecision in coursework and future goals exists, aim high and modify as they work through the course load so they have experience to help them decide. For example, consider starting with college-prep course work and if more hands-on type classes are desired, then switch to a more vocational track. Consider if the time and effort invested in coursework is of future value to a student. For example: does a student interested in marine mechanics need to take college prep classes like Chemistry Honors with a lab? 

Once high school course work begins, keep a list of completed coursework, grades, and narratives to help generate credits and GPA. A note on when to begin earning credits -- many homeschool families take advantage of the freedom, flexibility and financial reward of beginning high school and college-credit course work well before the traditional age of high school. If you have a student who is interested in earning credits early, keep that in mind and the opportunity open.

Homeschool Transcript Example PDF-Editable


3 Homeschool Transcript Must-Haves:


1. Credits

2. GPA (unweighted and weighted)

3. Collecting and keeping more than just data


Homeschool Transcript Must-Have No. 1: Credits

A credit is a number that translates to achievement which is assigned by the homeschool parent-teacher to each course a student completes. For a quick grasp on this, check out the chart from the National Center for Education Statistics, Education Commission of the States which shows how each state has uniquely established the amount of credits needed to graduate from high school. Take time to research the homeschool laws and requirements in the state of residence, as each has created its own mandate. 

Homeschoolers are used to thinking outside of the box, and that comes into play when attaching names to courses. Completing most of an Algebra II book will translate easily to the transcript but, for example, a semester of private music lessons and a showcase of the talent could become a half credit toward an elective. Participating in a year-long club that studies, researches, and collects insects could count as entomology towards a science credit. Remember a transcript outlines a student's achievements and strengths, regardless of if it looks formal and/or traditional.


Getting The Magic Number:

The standard way of getting to a number that equates to CREDIT for achievement is called a Carnegie Unit. It has been used since 1906 to “measure the amount of time a student has studied a subject. For example, a total of 120 hours in one subject—meeting 4 or 5 times a week for 40 to 60 minutes, for 36 to 40 weeks each year—earns the student one “unit” of high school credit. Fourteen units were deemed to constitute the minimum amount of preparation that could be interpreted as “four years of academic or high school preparation.”

This time formula way of calculating credit can be tricky for homeschoolers with the unique and creative ways of educating. For ideas on how to tweak it to fit, read this article from HSLDA which shows how to consider more than just length of time in determining a credit. 

Homeschool Transcript Must-Have No. 2: GPA (weighted and unweighted):

The CREDITS earned are used to compute a student's Grade Point Average or GPA. This is a basic calculation where each grade stands for a number earned, those numbers are added together and then divided by the number of points possible to get a student’s average grade. This can be done with a basic calculator and there are online tools available which will compute a GPA. We found a free-from-ads webpage with a concise resource from calculator.net. For other options, do a quick internet search.

GPA can also be calculated according to the difficulty level of a course that the student has completed. That’s where the two variations come into play: unweighted and weighted. Here’s an easy way to note the difference and examples here of how to calculate weight.

Unweighted GPA: Can’t be more than 4.0. Each course is worth a standard value. 

Weighted GPA: Takes into account level of difficulty of the course. For example, honors level, international baccalaureate (IB), advanced placement (AP courses are only available through the company College Board), content studies towards CLEP exams and college dual-enrollment may carry more value which can raise the GPA above 4.0.

For homeschoolers, the parent serves as the guidance counselor to the student helping them decide which subjects/classes they want to take to meet their goals after high school. A comprehensive resource that relieves the overwhelm of that concept is Homeschooling for College Credit.

A completed homeschool transcript example. The neat array of columns and rows display a report of a student’s high school achievements at a glance.


Homeschool Transcript Must-Have No. 3: Collecting and keeping more than just data.

The transcript is just one reflection of your child’s achievements throughout high school. It’s important to also keep record of activities that go beyond grades in the form of a portfolio. High school portfolios have become an important part of college admissions and give a wholistic representation of the student. Every student is bolstered by this type of record of their educational experiences. These experiences helped form their character and outline their hobbies which help them stay well-rounded. These records can help formulate a few brief narratives on a transcript template to make their gifts and talents shine. Students are more than numbers! 

The best way to keep these types of narrative records is to have a plan in place for where to save items from their experiences like: certificates, programs, fliers, brochures, tickets, photographs, emails, etc. Create files by the year of their high school. For paper items, use file folders or binders. For digital files, documents/drives, email labels, photo albums, social media pages/accounts.

To receive feedback from others who the student has engaged with and can testify to their character, get letters of recommendation from at least one adult each year of high school. Ask them to relate specifically to a certain attribute they displayed while working alongside them like their leadership skills, compassion/empathy, self-motivation, willingness to help.  Get these from various positions like employment, volunteer opportunities, classroom or extracurricular experiences, youth camp, etc.

Transcripts are just numbers, but a student needs memories to make those numbers connect with their achievements, which will allow them to feel confident and that their education was of stellar quality.


PRO Tips:

 + Do an internet search for homeschool high school transcript templates and choose one that best suits your family. Remember, this will be a working document for a few years so consider dedicating a binder or spiral notebook to be the sloppy copy until it's time to create the official final version at the end of their high school years.

+ Be sure to look at all the options from spreadsheets that calculate GPA to printable documents, online PDF-fillables, and even services that will take care of the whole process for a fee.

+ Be sure the words referring to the document as an "official high school transcript" are on the form, and add a notarized affadavit, if needed.

+ Before sending off a transcript, know the specific requirements of the entity on the receiving end. Details such as a sealed envelope, if it’s in paper form, or the way it’s to be digitally attached to an application, can vary. 



Let these tips empower you, homeschool mom, and show you that creating high school homeschool transcripts is not as overwhelming as it sounds. That it's an opportunity to help your child shine, build their confidence as they reflect on their educational accomplishments, and possibly lead to scholarship dollars for further education. It's well worth the effort (you have been called to do this!), and there are helpful resources available to help you learn how to make it become a seamless part of your homeschool days. Aren't you excited to get started creating empowering homeschool transcripts?!


To get your specific questions about high school transcripts answered join our weekly community meetings and/or book a Coaching Call with us for 1:1 help.

If you like this article, be sure to check out our other blog posts that are related:

Know Your Why: Choosing What to Teach in Your Homeschool

Crafting an Empowering Homeschool Portfolio: Tips and Strategies

End The Year Well: Homeschool Portfolios, Plans and Parties

Check out our store for FREEBIE homeschool resources to download.


Get more encouragement, tips, and Friday Freebies straight to your inbox!

Unsubscribe any time.