Power Up the Transcript: How to Increase Rigor on Average High School Course

Here’s how to power up the transcript: How to increase rigor on an average high school course.

How to Increase Rigor on an Average High School Course

Power Up the Transcript: How to Increase Rigor on an Average High School Course

Let’s say that you have a college-bound homeschool high schooler.

  • Your teen has a gifting in English/Language Arts and wants to study Communications in college.
  • Or imagine that you have a college-bound homeschool high schooler who is IT bound and has no time for frivolous courses that don’t advance his expertise about the digital world.
  • Even imagine you have a Photography Major homeschool high schooler who is college bound and needs to bulk up her transcript and portfolio for auditions. She doesn’t have time for unnecessary course work.
  • These homeschool high schoolers all need to have a transcript that is rich in college-prep-level courses. They need some honors-level courses, also. But they need to put the bulk of their extra study hours in courses that will advance their career pathway.

All of these homeschool high schoolers are NOT aiming for colleges that are highly competitive. They simply need to sparkle in their area of interest. (Check out this post on how to build a transcript with that kind of sparkle.)

These teens do not need to spend tons of time on courses that will drain their energy- IF they can avoid it. How do they do it? They increase the rigor of an AVERAGE-level text!

Here is one way to increase rigor on an average high school course 

There are some high school requirements that can use an average-level high school text and then be easily adapted for college prep. Using a more basic text in non-career pathways courses can sometimes be a wise choice. (Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool. Every teen is different and has different interests and needs. You can feel free to adapt your curriculum!)

One easy course to start with an average-level text and adapt for college-prep level is American Government. Many states require .5 credit of American Government for graduation.

How to increase rigor on an average high school course: American Government example

  1. Start with a user-friendly, simple text that is written for a Level 2 (Average) high school level. One of these texts is Pearson’s Pacemaker American Government.
  2. Have your homeschool high schooler read the text, do the questions throughout the text. Take the tests.
  3. This will earn 1 American Government Level 3 (College-prep High School).
  4. Have your teen earn 1/4 more in experiential learning activities. For this you will log hours of various educational experiences. This may include: watching current event shows, reading current events, create a notebook of elections issues, watching documentaries on American presidents or other influential political figures, field trips to government offices, etc.
  5. To know when your teen has earned that 1/4 credit in experiences, simply take your state requirement for credit hours and divide by 4. In our area, we need 135 hours of educational experiences to earn a credit, so 1/4 credit is 34 hours. Some states require 180 hours, so their quarter credit will be 45 hours. Most of my teens logged closer to 50 hrs and/or read an extra real book or two. You will find some suggested in the text.
  6. Next have them read an interesting biography and a fascinating book like, The Story of a Bill from PA Homeschoolers (the story of the passing of the homeschool laws in Pennsylvania).
  7. When those extra hours and books are completed and logged, you will include this in your course description.
  8. This will give your homeschool high schooler a Level 3 (College-Prep) American Government credit.

Note, this is not best practices for courses in your teen’s interest or college-major areas. It DOES free up more time for them to concentrate on their career pathways or other honors-level courses because it is a simple, painless credit-earning process

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Power Up the Transcript: How to Increase Rigor on an Average High School Course


Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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