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Homeschooling through high school can be intimidating. Suddenly we, the parents, are responsible for not only teaching, but also acting as a guidance counselor. It is our responsibility to keep track of any records that our kids might need in the future for college admission, acceptance to a trade school, or proof of education for a job. Don’t worry though. Keeping high school records doesn’t have to be overly complicated.
Public schools maintain certain records for their students and so should homeschool parents. It is part of our role as homeschool teacher and administrator.
Each state requires certain minimum homeschool records, but I encourage you to think long term.
What sort of records and documents will your student need to apply to college, trade school, or for a future employer/
I highly recommend beginning to maintain high school records as soon as your student beings high school level work.
It is much easier, and less stressful, to add to a running list each semester than to try to remember what your student did over the past 4 years. I have a hard enough time remembering what we did last month, let alone 4 years ago!
Why do I need to keep high school records for my homeschooler?
Records act as proof of a student’s education. There are many circumstances that may require some level of homeschool records:
- Applying to college
- Joining the military
- Applying for a job
- Enrolling in a public or private school (records are not a guarantee that your homeschool issued credits will be accepted, but there will likely be no credit possible without accurate records)
- Filing to homeschool their own children one day
- Applying for lower car insurance rates through good student discounts
Every child who attends public school has official records, so I want my children to have records too.
What sort of high school records do I need to keep?
In general, it is likely better to err on the side of too much information than not enough, but at a minimum you need to keep:
Attendance records (if required by state) – North Carolina requires homeschool parents to keep attendance records for all students. This seems a bit silly to me, but it is easy enough to comply and is part of the homeschool law here so I keep an attendance record.
Transcript – A transcript is a one page summary of your child’s high school academics. It typically includes the:
- name of each high school level course
- final grade for each course
- credit for each course
- final Grade Point Average (GPA)
Don’t wait until your child’s senior year to start keeping this information. Every year update a Google doc with your child’s classes, credits, and grades. Keeping this information updated and accurate will make creating the final transcript much easier.
Creating a transcript makes a lot of homeschool parents nervous. This document will be viewed by college admission staff, so there is pressure to ‘get it right’. There are services that will compile all of the information and create a transcript for homeschoolers, but you can create it yourself if you prefer. I like control, so you can probably guess which route I will take 😉
Lee Binz, aka The HomeScholar, is an expert at homeschool transcripts. She teaches parents exactly what they need to know in order to create professional transcripts.
Her Total Transcript Solution course walks you through how to make a transcript and includes transcript templates so you just need to input the information. This course even includes a personal consultation after you have created the transcript but before you send it to any college admission offices.
I will definitely be using this service in a few years so that I can send out the best transcript possible!
In addition to sending a copy of the final official transcript to all necessary colleges, military recruiters, or employers, keep a copy available for any future needs. This could be saved in a few ways:
- email to your child
- email to another relative
- upload to cloud storage
- physical copy
This ensures that your child will always have access to it even years later.
If you want to keep more than the minimum high school homeschool records, you can also keep course descriptions, a reading list, work samples, and a list of extracurricular activities. Some colleges (not all) may want to see these things.
I am a Type A over-planner, so I am saving all of these items for my children. I would rather have something and not need it than need something and not have it.
Course descriptions – This is basically a few paragraphs describing each course. This can include the materials used and any relevant field trips or activities. It helps the college admission staff know what was taught in your English I (as an example) course.
A Google doc makes it easy to keep up with course descriptions. Every year take an hour or so and create a course description for all of your child’s classes. This keeps you from trying to remember 4 years worth of activities in your child’s senior year.
Reading list – I have heard from a few moms of older kids that reading lists help admission staff get to know your child. They see what your child is interested in by the books that were read.
A reading list is quite simple. It is just a list of every book your student read in high school- assigned, part of a book club, or even just books read for fun.
Work samples – Work samples are something that you either have or you don’t. It isn’t something that can really be created from parental memory years down the road.
You certainly don’t have to keep every piece of work your high schooler finishes. Just keep the important stuff – essays, tests, and projects. Projects can be documented by photos.
I have a simple accordion folder to save work samples. It has 26 pockets, which happens to be the average number of credits kids earn in high school. Each course gets its own pocket to keep everything neat and organized.
I hope that wasn’t too overwhelming! Keeping high school homeschool records sounds like a daunting task until you realize that you can take it one year at a time. Keeping high school records organized only requires a Google or word document and an inexpensive file folder.
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