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Homeschool Record Keeping and Transcripts are Critical for College Scholarships

Outstanding Homeschool Student Loses Out on Scholarship

Your child’s future and your financial future depend on how well you keep your homeschool records and transcripts. There is ongoing discussion in homeschool circles about the importance of maintaining records, grades and transcripts for each student.

Rather than tell you my opinion, I want to tell you a story …

Joel had been a homeschool student since kindergarten. He was an exceptional student, with a passion for learning, an incredible ability to reason, and a real gift for writing. Unfortunately, his parents had attended a homeschool convention when he was still in middle school and were informed that grades are not important on a homeschool transcript. In fact, ”they could simply choose to use a pass/fail system” for his transcript rather than grading each assignment. That sounded so much easier than maintaining grades for their homeschooled children!

When they decided to homeschool without worrying about grades, they had no idea that grades are significant when it comes to scholarship funding!

When Joel graduated, he took the SATs and scored above the 97th percentile in English and 96th in Math. The college and universities were excited about enrolling him! In fact, they were willing to offer scholarship funding in order to spark his interest in their institution.

But they had one problem, the transcript . . .

Without a GPA, they were limited in the scholarship amount that they could offer. And without grades on the transcript, it was impossible to provide a GPA.

Did his lack of grades affect his ability to get into college?

No!

But, it was a huge factor in the cost that he would incur when he did attend college.

I met with Joel’s mom shortly after she heard the news.  And do you know what she said?

“I wish I would have known how important grades would be when it came to scholarships.”

For this student, who was working with a homeschool evaluator and doing everything else by the book, records and transcripts become extremely important.  Fortunately, because we had been working together from the beginning of Joel’s high school career, we were able to go back and provide grading for those homeschool assignments that I had reviewed over the years. Joel’s mom now understood the importance of grades on a transcript and I guarantee she will be grading tests and keeping records for her other homeschool students.

If you take nothing else home with you after reading this article, please remember this: colleges and universities rely on GPAs when it comes to scholarship funding for higher education.  Therefore, your child’s eligibility for scholarships include a transcript with a GPA.

Joel is not the only homeschooler who has faced this difficulty with his homeschool records and transcript. I have worked with many homeschooling families in similar situations-some of whom have heard my exhortations about the importance of careful record keeping.  However, they were also falsely informed that a transcript really does not matter.  As a result many outstanding homeschool students with the potential for an impressive transcript lost the opportunity to capitalize on their academic accomplishments.

I don’t want you to find yourself in the same situation. If you are homeschooling or using a correspondence course, please put the time and energy into accurate records today to impact your child’s tomorrow.  The amount of time it takes to keep records is nothing compared to the dollar amount a grant or scholarship can save you and your college student.

A Homeschool Story with a Much Better Outcome
Justin’s mother understood the importance of a homeschool transcript.  As a result, she enrolled her son into a homeschool organization where he would receive a state recognized transcript upon graduation.

In addition, we began to keep a detailed transcript for Justin in ninth grade knowing that he would be a good candidate for scholarships.  Not only did we include his academic achievement but his other homeschool accomplishments as well.  He too was an impressive student, who not only excelled in academics, but also took advantage of many opportunities to pursue his interest in politics.  As a result, we were able to place his internships and his training on Capital Hill to work for him on his transcript, even providing a grading scale for each.

Justin graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was a National Merit Scholar finalist.  Armed with his transcript and other accomplishments, he received an offer for a full scholarship to Harvard and almost a free ride to Georgetown University.

Justin’s careful grading, record keeping and homeschool transcript complete with a GPA and credit for his many extra-curricular activities enabled him to receive the funding he needed to pursue his degree at Georgetown University via a scholarship.

I would have been heartbroken had this extremely impressive student and future leader not had the opportunity to pursue his dreams, especially if his only roadblock had been the lack of a transcript and GPA.  With or without it, Justin has the makings of an incredible scholar and leader.  However, the constraints of the system may have kept him from receiving the scholarship funding he so desperately needed if he had not had the grading and records to back him up.

There are many others like Joel and Justin out there whose accomplishments merit well deserved scholarships.  Take the steps now, start keeping records and a transcript and ensure that your homeschooler can take advantage of the financial aid available.

Calculating Letter Grades/Grading a course
How to record grades for a homeschool transcript.

Record keeping for homeschool students does not have to be overwhelming.  If you are using a standard curriculum that includes tests and evaluations, simply calculate a grade based on your student’s performance on those tests.  Then, keep a notebook where you can record each test grade for each course.  At the end of the year, you simply add up all test grades and divide by the total number of tests to determine the final grade for the course.

For example, Jennifer takes 6 tests throughout the school year scoring 95, 86, 93, 88, 92, and 95.  When added together, these scores equal a total of 549.  Divide 549 by the number of tests (in this case, 6) to calculate the average score-91.5%.  This becomes Jennifer’s final grade for the course.
Calculating Weighted Grades
Adding Extras to a Homeschool Transcript.

Some homeschoolers choose to add projects or written assignments to the courses they offer and want to ensure that their student’s transcript reflects those efforts.  No problem.  Simply assign a grade to each project or assignment that you believe should impact the final outcome of the course.  Then, determine if you want those grades to carry the same weight as the test portions of the course.  If so, simply add all final grades together and divide by the total number of grades.

For example, if Jennifer’s homeschool supervisor assigned a major research paper and an oral presentation for the course above, she may want to incorporate those projects into Jennifer’s final grade.

Therefore, if she earned an A (or 95%) on her research paper and an A- (or 92%) on her oral presentation, she will add those grades in with her test scores for a total of 736.  When you divide this number by the total number of grades (this time a total of 8 grades), Jennifer’s new overall course grade is now 92%

Homeschool Grading – More Complicated Method

Determining a final grade can become more complicated if you prefer to allow tests to carry more weight than projects or vice versa.  If that is the case, let’s walk through that process.

First, determine the average of each set of grades using the formula above.  For example, Jennifer has an average of 92.5% on her tests and 93.5% on her projects.  Because of the work involved in her larger projects, Jennifer’s homeschool supervisor would like to weigh the projects more heavily than the tests.  She therefore decides that the projects will make up 65% of Jennifer’s overall grade and the tests will make up the other 35%.

To calculate the final grade, she must first take the average earned on each portion of the course and multiply that average by the weight assigned to it.

In Jennifer’s case, she will multiply the test average of 92.5% by 35% for a total number of 32.37 points.  She will then take the average score for the projects (93.5%) and multiply it by 65% for a total number of 60.77 points.  When added together, Jennifer’s total percent score becomes 93.15%.

As you can see, the weight you assign to the various assignments within a course does impact the final grade.

Jennifer’s Grades-For non-weighted transcript (fig 1)

1

2

3

4

5

6

Totals

Divide by total # of grades

Percent Average

Test Grades

95

86

93

88

92

95

549

6

91.5%

Project Grades

95

92

187

2

93.5%

Total Points

736

8

92%

Final grade for course: 92% (B)

Jennifer’s Grades-For weighted transcript (fig 2)

1

2

3

4

5

6

Totals

Divide by total # of grades

Percent Average

Multiply grade by weight

Total points

Test Grades

95

86

93

88

92

95

549

6

91.5%

x 35

32.37

Project Grades

95

92

187

2

93.5%

x 65

+ 60.77

Total Points

Add total points-convert to percent

93.14%

Final Grade for course: 93.14% (A)

Keeping it Real – Homeschool Wisdom

I do caution you to be realistic with your grades. A student who earns 100% on all assignments and tests will raise concern among college admissions counselors.  Be careful to provide accurate records and award grades based on performance, not on a desire to skew the actual results.

In addition, to avoid the temptation to weigh one aspect of a course more heavily than others with the goal of raising a grade, determine how you will grade your homeschooler and the weights for each type of evaluation at the beginning of the year.  Then be sure to inform your child, write it down, and stick to it.

If you prefer to use a letter grade system, simply define the range for each letter grade.

For example, an A+ might have a percent range of 97-100; A  95-97 and A- 93-96. Once defined, be sure to include that grading scale on your homeschooling documentation.  This makes it easier for college admissions officers to see the performance of a student.  In addition, a letter grade system makes it possible to determine the GPA for your student.

How to calculate your child’s GPA

Rather than provide a complicated method of determining a child’s GPA based on a grading scale that includes pluses and minuses, I will outline for you the easiest method of grading.

A GPA is calculated based on the number of quality points your child earns throughout his or her high school career.  Quality points are awarded according to academic achievement, number of credits and your grading scale.  The most basic method of assigning quality points is on an A, B, C, D grading scale, A=4 points, B=3 points, C=2 points, D=1 point:

Letter Grade Awarded

# of Quality Points

A

4

B

3

C

2

D

1

So, if a student receives the following grades on his or her transcript in a given year, the GPA for that year is calculated based on the grading scale above and will look like this:

(Quality Grading Table Fig 3)

Course

Letter Grade Awarded

Credits earned

# of Quality Points

Math

B

1.0

3

English

A

1.0

4

Social Studies

A

1.0

4

Science

B

1.0

3

Bible

B

.50

3

Totals

4.5

17 Points

Divide total points by number of credits

17 / 4.5

3.77 GPA

In some cases, courses are weighted more heavily based on the academic level.  For instance, Bridgeway students are able to register for honors, AP, and college level courses that are weighted more heavily than others and therefore receive more quality points.  If you are enrolled in a homeschool program, ask them about weighted courses.

If this all sounds overwhelming, there is help.  Consider enrolling your student in a home school academy like Bridgeway Academy where your child will receive detailed record keeping, an accredited transcript complete with a GPA, a recognized private school diploma and expert guidance counseling to prepare your child for the college or university of choice.

Because your child’s future (and your financial future) depend on it!

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