Being able to present a great transcript with equally great documentation can be not only the key to getting accepted to the college of your choice, but also the key to snagging top scholarships. While this can be seen as a challenge for homeschool families, it can also work to their advantage since they are able to tailor the transcript, often creating even the names of courses taken.
The easiest way, of course, is to start the process at the beginning of the high school years. Don’t be discouraged, however, if you’re heading into your senior year, and realize there’s still a lot to be done when it comes to a transcript. This often happens with families who take a more unstructured approach to homeschooling. It will take some time and some creativity, but you can produce an impressive transcript if you’ve completed the basic required courses.
How important is the transcript? Well, that depends. Are in-depth course descriptions and impressive portfolios important? That also depends. If you’re aiming for Ivy League colleges and academic scholarships, their importance can’t be overemphasized. If, on the other hand, your goal is to attend a Bible College where character references are more important than grades, they will likely carry less weight.
Speaking from our own experience, we labored over producing incredibly impressive course descriptions, almost begging college admissions to take a look at them since we’d put so much effort into the process. They weren’t interested. Nor did they question the extremely creative (at times) titles of our self-designed courses. Our conclusion was that unless you’re applying to a very competitive school, if you have decent SAT or ACT scores, decent high school grades for standard courses, a fair amount of community service and an easy-to-read transcript, you’re going to be okay. We found that to be the case with many scholarships as well. An exception, of course, are the scholarships based primarily on academic merit.
Still, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Some 9th graders may know exactly what they want to do, and what college they want to attend, but most don’t. It’s advisable to plan for the most competitive scenario. Even with Bible colleges, the unexpected can happen. I found myself wait-listed for one after several dynamic youth directors that year encouraged all their youth to attend that particular college. It was flooded with applicants, and at that point transcripts began to take on added importance.
How does one prepare an impressive, but accurate transcript? There are many tools and programs available, most of which can be found by searching the internet. Some of the more helpful ones have been designed by those who have already gone through the process. You’ll be sending out your transcript with almost every scholarship application you submit, so it’s worth putting effort and resources into it.
Our advice is to not panic, but regardless of where you are in your homeschool journey, now is the time to start working on those transcripts!