How to create a transcript

There are innumerable ways to create a solid written transcript. There’s no one right way (but there are *wrong* ways).

For more information on how to write course descriptions, see Course Descriptions.

What should a transcript include?

Your transcript should include these things:

  • The word “Official” on it, as in “Official High School Transcript”
  • Biographical information about your student (name, contact information, etc.)
  • Estimated or known graduation date
  • A key to the transcript (e.g., an explanation for any abbreviations or symbols used in the transcript)
  • Classes taken
  • Parent signature, as school administrator

Should the transcript include other things?

Your transcript might include, if your student used them:

  • Grades
  • Credits
  • A summary of standardized tests and scores
  • Dates, if using a subject-based format
  • Provider (e.g., community college, class taken outside the home, summer camp class, etc.)
  • Level (e.g., honors, college, etc.)

Grade-based transcript vs. subject-based transcript

Generally speaking, there are two types of transcripts: by grade and by subject area. 

Grade-based transcript:

This is the type most often used by traditional schools. If your homeschooled student has followed a fairly traditional educational path or a boxed curriculum, this method may work well.

  • Classes are listed according to grade by year.
  • Subjects are spread through the years. For example, English will spread across all four years; English 1 will be listed in Grade 9, English 2 listed in Grade 10, etc.
  • Each grade will cover a variety of subjects—at least English, math, history, a social science, and an elective.

Subject-based transcript:

This type is used fairly frequently by homeschoolers and with great success. This method works well if your student has followed an eclectic or unschooled approach to education.

  • Classes are listed according to subject.
  • A sequence of learning is obvious within the subject (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus).
  • Classes within a subject may or may not have years listed. Some people choose to list the year completed, the years undertaken (e.g., 2013-15), or no years at all.

Creating the written transcript

Many homeschoolers start with a simple spreadsheet or table. The biographical information is usually included at the top of the transcript, and the key can be included anywhere it makes sense (top, bottom, sidebar, etc.). 

The classes can be listed in rows and columns, boxes, or any other method that makes sense.

The transcript can be oriented in landscape or portrait, whatever makes sense for your layout.

Keep these things in mind as you create the transcript:

  • The main goal is clarity. You don’t want the admissions officer to have to spend time figuring out how your transcript works.
  • Keep things clean and organized. Don’t use fancy fonts or shading that might not be easy to read or translate well on a copier.
  • List all the necessary information (classes, etc.). Don’t leave anything to the admissions officer’s imagination. 
  • Omit all the unnecessary information, which includes anything that is repeated elsewhere in the application (awards, internships, volunteer work, etc.).
  • Keep your transcript to ONE PAGE if at all possible, even if it means using tiny font. The admissions officer may not scroll down to or turn over to the second page.
  • Submit your transcript as a pdf so that fonts don’t get messed up when another computer is used.

What’s the *wrong* way to make a transcript?

  • Make it confusing
  • Make it hard to read
  • Don’t include a key
  • Make the admissions officer hunt for anything or figure out anything on their own
  • Make it look exactly like a traditional high school transcript
  • Use a supplied transcript form, unless the application requires you to.
  • Make your transcript look exactly like any other student's. Homeschooling is an advantage! Make your student stand out by celebrating homeschooling and treating him like the unique individual he is.