Whew! I just finished a marathon session assembling my oldest son’s high school transcript and helping him get together four college applications. Every school wanted something a little different – some wanted attendance records and proof of compliance with state home-school laws, some wanted detailed course descriptions including topics covered along with the books we used (in MLA format).
There were also various forms and letters of recommendation to request from my son’s other teachers/mentors, and LOTS of essays to write (all of the schools had different essay prompts). I will definitely be starting this process earlier in the year with my next two kids. In fact, I’m starting now.
One of the benefits of this experience has been learning how to use my “HomeSchool Tracker” software better. I’ve been using it for about four years, and each year I seem to get a little better with organizing its myriad features. But when it came time to print a transcript report, I couldn’t get it to include everything it was supposed to include, and finally figured out why.
For the benefit of readers who may also use HS Tracker – take the time to read the “help” files thoroughly and set the database up properly at the beginning of each year. It takes a lot of time at first, but will pay off in the end! I originally learned to use the “Resources” list, “Lesson Plans,” and “Assignments.” But I realized too late that I should have been creating “Courses,” within subject areas. I never really understood the need for “Courses” when I was getting along fine with “Subject” and “Lesson Plan.” Now I get it – and it would have made transcript time much simpler. Also, you have to use the “Assignment” feature and check off when things are accomplished or else none of your student’s work will show up in your end-of-year reports.
Another word of advice: include your student when you make lesson plans, schedules, course descriptions, etc… on HS Tracker (or any planning method). This gives them ownership of their education and lets them see their work recorded for posterity. Show them how to fill in their reading lists and journal entries. And if your student has a self-designed course, ask them to create a Lesson Plan for the semester, which will be the basis for their assignments (to themselves).