Beacon College

Build an Amazing Home-School Transcript

Sep 27th, 2010 | By | Category: College, Transcripts

What if your student had a high school transcript so outstanding that that even the admissions office of Harvard would be impressed?  It’s easier than you might think. Homeschooling has great advantages, one of which is the ability to tailor your child’s education according to his or her individual needs. That’s the true beauty of getting to be principal, teacher, and head guidance counselor all in one. Unfortunately with these roles comes the responsibility of record keeping — a daunting task to say the least.

Building an amazing transcript goes beyond the right amount of credits for math and science. When planning a high school career, students should be thinking about how their high school choices will affect the admissions process. Self-motivation, curiosity and passion are extremely appealing qualities to prospective colleges, and the transcript is the place where these traits are reflected. Even if your student is undecided about going to college, having an excellent high school experience can still help him or her with everyday life skills.

When your student applies for college admission, the high school transcript is a key factor in determining acceptance. Universities want to know what type of courses your student took, how well he or she performed in those classes as well as standardized test scores. This makes your job as record keeper extremely important.  Of course, not all of us are blessed with the talent of organization. Certainly I am not; just ask my kids.  However, I was able to give my children stellar transcripts that helped get them huge scholarship, and with a little guidance, you too can have amazing transcript success.

More important than the cosmetic appeal of a transcript is the information contained within it. Writing a good transcript is dependent upon having a good academic plan of action. Try to discover what coursework best suits your student’s academic and career aspirations. Are there any specific subjects your child would like to learn during high school? Is there a specific university in mind? Try to challenge your student with your curriculum choices. Set goals, and knowing your plan of action will help ensure you reach those goals.

Plan For Success:

1.      Set Goals (challenge yourself w/creative, provoking, illuminating classes). Take the most rigorous courses available. Be irresistible to colleges

2.      Start High School Notebook/Portfolio (build appealing resume)

3.      Make a 4-year academic plan/Make a 4-Year Summer Plan

4.      Start Early

5.      Encourage College (Dreams go beyond college; it is a stepping stone to a larger goal). Visit colleges for fun during the end of middle school for motivation.

You can never be too prepared when it comes to developing a program that benefits the needs of your student. The more knowledge you have at the beginning, the easier the process of getting your student through High School will be. It is extremely important to begin this process early. Ideally I recommend starting this process when your student is in the 6th grade. This way you have plenty of time to develop, implement and change your strategy as necessary.  If your student has already passed the 6th grade, you should start this process no later than the 8th grade, but for those of you with students already in high school, try to take the following information and adapt it to your coursework accordingly.

For the high school transcript, I have developed a 3-Tier Roadmap for home-school transcript success. These course recommendations are based on the minimum standards for an average public or private high school. There are three different tracks, and you will have to determine which path is best suited for your student: the first is for your average student, the second for your moderate achiever, and the last is for your high achiever. Obviously, the higher the achievement, the better your student’s transcript will look to a university admissions staff. Strong academics show that your student can handle a heavy work-load as an incoming freshman.  It’s also a good idea to look into advanced coursework like AP, Dual Credit and CLEP classes for enhancing your child’s transcript.

Also, transcripts are NOT about academics alone. Colleges are looking for students of substance.  They do not want to admit a one-dimensional erudite.  Your student’s transcript may look great in the academic department, but may be severely lacking in the community service aspect. Come up with a list of community service organizations and projects that your student can get involved in, and then dive right in. Look for ideas at www.volunteermatch.org.  Your student will not only be doing something good for the community, but also adding depth to his or her transcript.  Also, encourage a variety of extra-curricular activities, from sports to band (the more variety the better). Make sure to keep a list of all awards, achievements and honors your student receives throughout the high school years. Admissions counselors believe that students who are well-rounded are the most deserving of scholarships.

Don’t forget about creating a 4-Year Summer Plan (start the summer before 9th grade). Although many kids simply want to “hang out” during the summer, this is a great opportunity for them to gain an academic edge and fire them up for the school year. No other time, outside of retirement, will they have a summer vacation to explore and pursue their interests. College admission counselors often want to know about a student’s summer. There are so many stand-out opportunities that exist. They can participate in enriching activities or work in goal-related jobs or internships. They can also attend multiple campus programs or get involved in an independent study such as an online writing course or a dance class.

One little-known secret that will add major credibility to a transcript is the presence of a talent search.  There are several opportunities for gifted learners to be identified in seventh grade by qualifying to take the SAT or ACT. The most notable talent searches are: John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Duke Talent Identification Program, North Western’s Center for Talent Development, University of Denver’s Rocky Mountain Talent Search and Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth. College admissions counselors use these credentials to determine students who were focused and mature at a young age. Many scholarships offered to juniors and seniors specifically seek out students who participated in a talent search.

Now for actually writing the transcript, you will want to be able to keep everything as organized as possible. I recommend creating a notebook for the sole purpose of keeping a regular track of grades, dates, curriculum and progress. It would be best to record grades several times a semester, but never less than once a semester noting final grades and class completion. The transcript itself can be created in a word processor or other similar computer program. It is best that you type the information as well as notate if the course is a state equivalent. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how a transcript should look, so you have some leeway in terms of organization. Try to review the transcripts of other parents in your homeschooling group.  See what you like and copy it. Very likely, someone you know will already have a template that fits perfectly to your child’s academic career. Make sure that it is signed and notarized.

It is important to add the student’s standardized test scores to the transcript. For homeschoolers, these scores validate their academics achievements since they are unbiased and administered unilaterally.  Transcripts should notate PSAT score as well as SAT or ACT scores. Although PSAT’s are not required for college entrance, higher scores often yield bigger scholarships. Many colleges put more emphasis on test scores than GPA’s because a 4.0 at one school is not necessarily equivalent to a 4.0 at a different school. That’s especially true for homeschoolers because every parent has a different grading scale.

Finally, remember that the home school transcript is more than a record of your student’s achievements. It’s also a reminder of your accomplishments as a homeschooling parent. As much as you should congratulate your child on the success of completion, feel free to pat yourself on the back. Getting your student through high school is a great accomplishment all in itself and the end result just might be coveted by Harvard.

You can download my 3-Tier 7-12th Grade Success at www.collegeprepgenius.com/roadmap.

Jean Burk is a published author, speaker and teacher. Her “Master The SAT Class” has been featured on NBC, CBS, Fox, TXA21 and The Homeschool Channel. To find out more about receiving free college or to sign-up for her free report, “Good-bye Student Loans, Hello Free College,” go to www.collegeprepgenius.com Contact info: jean@collegeprepgenius.com 81-SAT-2-PREP

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