What Colleges Like to See on Homeschool Transcripts

I’ve been getting lots of questions about what colleges like to see on homeschool transcripts. How do you make your homeschooler’s high school transcript college attractive?

What Colleges Like to See on Homeschool Transcripts

What Colleges Like to See on Homeschool Transcripts

I have graduated all five of my kids from homeschool high school. Each of them went on to college (two of them have PhDs, one has an MEd, one has a BFA, and the youngest recently completed his BA in Education). So, we learned some things about homeschoolers going to college as well as what colleges like to see on transcripts.

I have also served for 18 years as junior and senior advisor for our local homeschool umbrella school. In that role, I have helped hundreds of college-ready homeschool high schoolers successfully apply and receive acceptance to various kinds of colleges. Along the way, I have talked to college advisors when we go on college tours, by phone and fax and at conferences on behalf of my homeschool senior advisees. We want to know what colleges want to see from homeschoolers.

Here is what I have found about what colleges like to see on homeschool transcripts.

What colleges like to see on homeschool transcripts
The 4 of the 5 Tillman homeschoolers (all have graduated from college now)

1) Solid GPA.

We have the luxury of teaching for mastery, so your high schoolers can spend 1 hour or 3 hours per day mastering algebra equations or chemical formulas if need be. They can stick with it until they have solid mastery. Then his test scores and papers look good.

This means that homeschoolers often have good grades- because they have worked for mastery. Along with good grades, it is likely that your teens will have earned a good GPA. That’s fine but just keep it honest.

Here’s a post with things you need to know about figuring your teens’ GPAs.

2) Strong SAT or ACT Scores.

Not all colleges require these, but those that do look for competitive scores. My high schoolers worked on SAT vocabulary with FreeRice.com and reading challenging books- even over summer break. 

They also did a prep course. My kids’ favorite SAT prep has been SATs for Dummies – take a look at their cool cheat sheet. Here’s a post on how to prepare teens for the SATs.

3) Academic Challenge.

Many colleges want to know that my student is challenging himself academically. Are most of his courses at least College-Prep level? Is he taking some Advanced, Honors, or AP classes?

Wondering about levels for a high school transcript? Click here to learn more.

4) Non-generic Courses.

College admissions officers have often told us that they look at thousands of transcripts each year that all look fairly identical. Course titles are almost identical. They tell us they long to see transcripts with courses that *sparkle* or *pop*! In other words, not generically-titled courses and some courses that are unique or interesting-sounding.

Here’s a post on how to name courses on the homeschool transcript.

You can give your college-bound homeschool high schoolers an edge with by doing that. Instead of 9th Grade English (Language Arts), why not title the course after the major literature studies of the year. How about:

Great Christian Writers: A Full-Year High School Literature Course. 7SistersHomeschool.com
Click image for full description.

For more information on non-generic courses, check out this post.

5) Extra-curriculars.

We still have to avoid the stereotype that homeschoolers are well-educated misfits who never left the basement for 12 years. Rich extracurriculars are absolutely necessary to show that my student is community minded and has good social skills.

Learn more about the difference between electives and extracurriculars by clicking here.

6) Competitions.

College is a competitive place. Competitions show drive and diligence in my son’s character. He doesn’t have to win, just enter. Here’s a post that explains how and why of competitions for homeschool high schoolers.

7) Service.

Service hours show the college that my homeschooler is involved in his community and lives a balance lifestyle. Research shows that people who are active and service-minded have lower levels of depression than the general population. So, besides showing that my student is a good kid who cares, service hours show some health on his part.

8) Development of a Specific Skill.

Some colleges really like to see that a child has given special time and attention to a specific skill or interest.

This is important in the arts where portfolio reviews and tryouts will occur, but it may also give an edge in some science and history majors (according to the college). Click here to learn more about adding fine arts to your homeschool transcript.

Other skills can include Career Exploration courses like: Early Childhood Education. Or life-preparation courses like Human Development.

Social Skills for Children
Click image for full description.

You can get all this and more how-tos in our Transcript guide!

We take you step by step through creating your homeschool high schoolers’ transcripts in our How to Create Homeschool Transcripts Guide. Not only that, in the guide we give you an editable template that you can use for your teens’ transcripts.

How to Create a High School Transcript. Homeschool high schoolers create meaningful transcripts with this editable PDF transcript, course checklist and detailed guide.
Click image for full description.

More encouragement to help you prepare for what colleges like to see on homeschool transcripts.

Have you discovered the Homeschool Highschool Podcast? Join us weekly where we love to talk about homeschool high school, college prep and transcripts. Here’s a fun episode on what to include on your homeschool transcripts.

Is your student wondering about the future? Career Exploration can help!

Want more information? Check out these resources.

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What Colleges Like to See on Homeschool Transcripts



Vicki Tillman

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

16 Replies to “What Colleges Like to See on Homeschool Transcripts”

  1. I just found your blog and I’ve been reading many articles. Your blogs have been very informative, thank you. I have a question. My son helps at church as an usher. He escorts visit to their seat, he assist in directing parking lot traffic and parking direction, he also helps in special events and making sure church is clean, presentable, and ready for church members and visitors. For high school transcripts proposes, what title can I use?

  2. Too bad AP is aligned with common core; “desired” or not, my kids won’t go near anything like that. We’ll trust God that He’ll bless us for not compromising.

  3. In Iowa we have the ability to dual enroll through the high school so that the kids can enroll in tuition-paid college courses. My son took several courses and completed some CLEP and AP testing. We were able to list 17 hours of college credit at a 3.88 GPA as part of his transcript which was very helpful to demonstrate his level of academic achievement.

    • That’s great! For some homeschoolers college courses, CLEP and AP are good choices for enriching the transcript and proving they can do academic work at college level. Your son did a terrific job with a 3.88!

  4. My daughter is entering 7th grade. she loves to play sports and also coaches several youth and kindergarten age exercise and sports movement classes. we are planning to do challenging academic study through grade 11 so that her 12th grade year she can do an intensive internship and develop student and youth exercise and sport programs at the YMCA.

    • Jackie, That is SO perfect. You’re building on her strengths and interests and capturing it on the transcript! Thanks for sharing the ideas! (I love the YMCA idea!)

  5. My eldest is just entering grade 9 this coming September so I am really beginning to think about this stuff. Thanks for the great points.
    I am looking forward to these next few years and excited to learn more about how to prepare my kids!

    • Welcome, Wendy!

      High school years are the best years, in my opinion!

      If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the enewsletter, you should do that. We periodically send out a (free) compilation of our blog posts on high school how-tos through that.

      Have lots of fun working with a great kid on a great transcript with a great plan from God.

  6. One of our 3 did a summer scholars program at Washington & Lee University. This gave him exposure to living on campus, handing in assignments on time to a professor, confidence that he could do college level work and most important for the transcript – letters of reference from an honest to goodness college professor to go along with College applications. Those service hours often become grant money in the way of leadership awards. Thanks Vicki & Marilyn for making sure my kids did lot’s of service hours.

  7. Sam worked on his writing skills, specifically script-writing, preparing for his career in film. He attended a weekend script-writing conference in Washington, DC, and made valuable connections there for follow-up training in his craft via recommended books and internet coaching. When he took his first script-writing classes in college, he was WAY ahead of the bulk of the class. That led his professor to work with him outside of class to mentor him further.

    • That reminds me, Sabrina, of the Cinematography Club that our homeschool high schoolers did- and all the drama camps. Good, rich experiences for them and their transcripts.

  8. All my kids do some sort of competitions. Eldest daughter did choral and photography. Son has done even more choral competitions and played soccer. Youngest daughters compete in ice hockey.

    Carlie is interested in being an equipment manager for a professional sports team and Kendall may also be interested in a sports-related career. We are looking into building an internship or career exploration module for them around that.

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