I have 36 mason jars in my pantry. They’re filled with gorgeous red lentils, hearty green mung beans, cozy yellow turmeric, huge black cardamom pods. What a thing of beauty! And functionality. At any moment, within an arm’s reach, is a veggie curry or a lamb shawarma.
Until recently, I kept my spices in bags. And I kept them in larger bags. Grrr. It was frustrating finding them, accessing them, using them. But once I went to my mason jar system, the question was clear, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”
Keeping homeschool records during high school can be similar. It’s easy to let 4 years squeak by without knowing exactly what you’re supposed to keep track of and why. Then, when college applications are due, you’re scrambling to find those records that are hidden in bags within bags.
In this post, we’re going to cover 3 things you need to know about homeschool high school record keeping.
1. What homeschool records are.
2. Why it’s important to start keeping them now. Like, right now.
3. The four main documents for college applications (and why your homeschool records are important to creating them).
Homeschool records are a documented collection of your high schooler’s academic and extracurricular experiences. They’re also a place to record your policies about grading, weighting, and credits. Think of it as your teaching philosophy.
You’ll use these records to create your transcript and other documents for summer programs, internships, and college applications.
Other names you may have heard used: portfolio, documentation, course descriptions.
I usually advise families to start record keeping in 8th grade. That way, you’ll be in the habit of keeping them. And you’ll be armed with info about any high school level math or foreign language classes taken during middle school.
Just as you wouldn’t want to eat that veggie curry without the right ingredients, you don’t want to apply to colleges without the right documentation. Your documents can tilt your homeschooler’s acceptances one way or another. And I know which way you want them to go. :)
Your records make it easy to plan, grade, and make decisions during your high school journey. Is your homeschooler interested in a summer program? Dual enrollment courses? Returning to a brick and mortar school? Bingo. You’re ready to create a transcript or portfolio for anything that comes your way.
And, because you’ve established your policies and laid out your plan, well, you’re basically teacher of the year. You’re confident in where you’re going and WHY you’re going down the path you’ve chosen.
Sounds good so far, yes?
Your homeschool records are so organized and so thorough that they transfer SEAMLESSLY into the homeschool documents that you use for college applications.
Your homeschool records are the backbone of the documents you’ll submit to colleges.
When done right, creating the documents is a breeze, unlike the 20-30 hours homeschoolers spend when starting from scratch!
Here are the 4 main documents you will submit to colleges as a homeschool parent:
1. Transcript: A 1-2 page document that records grades, credits, and GPA.
2. Course Descriptions: A detailed document that describes courses, materials used, and the methods of evaluation.
3. School Profile: A 1-2 page document that describes your homeschool history and philosophy, curriculum and state graduation requirements.
4. Counselor Letter of Recommendation: A letter, written by you, that highlights your homeschooler’s best qualities: academically, extra-curricularly, and personally.
These documents give colleges a deep understanding of the kind of education you gave your homeschool high scholer.
They provide a way to compare your homeschooler to other applicants who come from schools that admissions officers are already familiar with.
They provide evidence that you took your teen’s education seriously.
Insider Tip: Even if a school doesn’t specifically request these documents, submit them anyway!
As a member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association), I visit dozens of college campuses a year. And meet with dozens of admissions officers. Thorough documents, they say, especially course descriptions, are key to understanding a homeschooler’s application.
But each year, homeschoolers call me at the last minute - desperately seeking help in creating their homeschool documents. They haven’t kept records. They don’t know what documents to create. Remember that 20-30 hours? Ouch. What a time and energy suck, especially when you have so many other things to do to support your homeschooler during application season!
There are no second chances in this process. So make the time to do this now. Even if it seems overwhelming. Even if it feels like college is sooo far away.
Because if you don’t, you’ll forget the textbooks your homeschooler used and the name of that summer program before 9th grade. You’ll be digging through boxes and emails and embarrassingly contacting old teachers for information from years before. You’ll have this nagging feeling, constantly telling you that you’ve missed something, that you’re in way over your head.
The panic is real, my friends.
But it doesn’t have to be your reality.
Use the above checklist as a guide in creating your homeschool high school records. Collect all the information you can and stick it in a binder. Then, set a reminder in your calendar to add information to your binder at the end of the school year.
If you want to be extra sure you create great homeschool records, grab my Homeschool to College Planner. Not only will it save you hours and hours of time and stress, but it’ll guarantee seamless creation of your homeschool documents when college application season is upon you.
Here are your key takeaways:
1. Homeschool records are a portfolio of your high school years - a collection of courses, grades, activities, etc. They also include grading and credit policies that will guide you on your homeschool journey.
2. Keep records starting in 8th grade to overcome the need for time travel during senior year! Spend the time now so you can save lots of time later.
3. Thorough homeschool records are necessary to create the 4 main documents you’ll submit to colleges as the guidance counselor: transcript, course descriptions, school profile,and counselor letter of recommendation.
When it comes to the college application process, there’s not much you can control. But keeping thorough records all through high school is one thing you can. Then, when it comes time to apply to colleges, you know you’ve done your best in setting up your homeschooler for a college and life they love.
As for me, I’ve been whipping up some mean meals in the kitchen lately. What a difference it makes having everything Mise en place.
Have your homeschool records been helpful for anything other than college applications? Share in the comments below!