Homeschooling High School: GPAs and Transcripts

My daughter is a junior in high school this year and has begun to apply for scholarships and is considering early admission to the university. As the year begins to wind down, we are giving more thought to her high transcript.

Teen girl holding hands in shape of peace symbol with text overlay "GPAs and Transcripts", magnolia tree in bloom in background

Many homeschool families get stressed by this aspect of homeschooling and fear the university will not accept a “homemade” transcript. The process of calculating your child’s GPA and creating a transcript is not difficult. There are many tutorials online to help guide you through this process.

Through our research – talking to local high school teachers and admissions counselors at our state universities – we have found it is best for high schoolers to use an unweighted GPA. In other words:

  • A’s receive a 4.0
  • B’s receive a 3.0
  • C’s receive a 2.0

I strongly suggest that the course be taken over again if the student earns anything lower than a C. Though our preference is to keep it simple, you can use half-points or quarter-points if you want to use a plus/minus grade system.

However, as many of the courses my daughter has taken are dual-enrollment course at the local community college, I opted to not use letter grades on her high school transcript. Instead, we will use a mastery approach. We do not consider a course complete until the material is mastered at the appropriate level.

The Core Courses

To apply for admission to a university in Oregon, the courses that students must have completed are outlined as:

  • Language Arts – 4 years (12 trimester credits)
  • Math – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • Science – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • Social Studies – 3 years (9 trimester credits)
  • World Languages – 2 years (6 trimester credits)

In a future post, I will share more details about the language requirement and different avenues by which to fulfill it as homeschoolers.

What About those Electives?

In addition to the student’s GPA, admission requirements also assess student preparedness and academic potential by looking at the unique context of each student’s personal experience.  Academic performance is not the sole criterion and successful applicants demonstrate a wide range of passions and life experiences.

Teens have many different interests and as they pursue their passions, homeschool parents often wonder how they might translate these hours onto a transcript. I previously wrote a post detailing the ABCs of High School Electives and provide a peak into how this can be done easily.

Academic Rigor

Often homeschool families and/or high schools will weight the GPA because they want to show that students with a weighted grade have completed an academically rigorous course (as in 5.0 for a rigorous course instead of 4.0).

However, it is much easier and more effective to show academic rigor by simply including the level of rigor in the title of the course on the transcript. For example, if your homeschool high schooler completed an honors level language arts course their senior year, the transcript might say: English Language Arts IV (Honors).

Please note that the College Board owns the term AP, so all courses that call themselves such must have approval. However, students may prepare for and take AP exams without having completed an approved AP course. It is important to confer with the university of choice whether they will accept AP exams for university credit.

For more information on homeschooling high school transcripts, two of my favorite resources by fellow homeschoolers are:

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Unschooling High School Transcript from Joan Concilo at Unschool Rules

Do You Make This Big Homeschooling High School Transcript Mistake? from Heather at Blog, She Wrote