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What is the Difference Between an Accredited and Official Homeschool Transcript?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between an accredited and an official homeschool transcript? Well, let's start at the beginning. The dictionary defines accredited as, "officially recognized as meeting the essential requirements, as of academic excellence" or "provided with official credentials, as by a government". Official, on the other hand, is defined as, "of or relating to an office or position of duty, trust, or authority" or "authroized or issued authoritatively". Now, let's discover what all of that means in terms of a homeschool transcript.

Students are required to submit transcripts (and other documents) to colleges for college admission. But, sometimes, your child will need a transcript even before they are applying to their favorite University. 

Sally discovered that her son could play on a private school baseball team - IF he entered that school's Independent Study program. The school says he needed an accredited transcript from his 9th grade year to prove that he was in the 10th grade this year. She was under the impression that his work was accredited basically by her. The school disagreed and said that could review his transcript from last year for $50 per credit hour.

So, Sally asked me, "What does accreditation mean? How does a homeschool student get "accredited" transcripts without paying $300-$400?"

There is a difference between an "accredited" and an "official" homeschool transcript. Remember our beginning definitions from above? Homeschools are official, but we are not "provided with official credentials, as by a government", and therefore, are not accredited. We are, however, official! And, that's good news. Let's talk about homeschool transcripts specifically.

All of the work your student does are counted as credits. Homeschool credits are official and our transcripts are also, official. Homeschool transcripts are usually not accredited, however. Transciripts can be accredited if they are written and provided by certified programs. These programs are ones that charge you a fee to either, enroll your child in their program of classes, or at the very least make a transcript for you. Independent homeschoolers aren't considered as a certified program and are not considered an accredited program. (Please note: a certified program is not necessarily better than your homeschool program.) So the school is correct, our homeschool credits are not accredited. Our homeschool credits are official though. 

Side note ... speaking of credits ... You'll want to be sure that you are following your state guidelines for how to run your homeschool. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, however all 50 states have different expectations about what is required. You can find out your state's requirements in my  article, Know Your State Homeschool Law.  And, what about those grades and credits? Just how does a parent assign grades in homeschool and how in the world do we count credits for a transcript? I'm glad you asked. Take my free class, Creating Transcripts for Your Unique Child and I'll teach you how.

As I mentioned above, there are programs that can accredit your transcript. North Atlantic Regional High School (NARHS), Family Academy, Clonlara.... and others I'm sure. They usually charge between $50-$100 per credit. Think about how many credits a high school student typically has (24-26, generally speaking) and it adds up quickly, and it can be VERY expensive in the long run. At one point I calculated that a whole 4-year high school would be $2000-$5000 just for a piece of paper that says "accredited". It wasn't worth it to me and, apparently, didn't matter too much to the colleges either. They gave us two four-year full tuition scholarships based on my "mommy-made" official transcripts. The accreditation agencies will convince you that accredited transcripts are essential for college admission and make a lot of money this way. But now, you are armed with the truth.

So you are aware prior to looking into them, accreditation programs generally come with some strings attached. You have to enroll with them, and use their curriculum and programs. Say you want to find a program that has a baseball program. You can try finding an accreditation program that allows your student to play baseball and to homeschool independently, but doesn't force you to give away your flexibility to homeschool your child the way that fits. That will be difficult.

Strangely enough, you may have better luck with a baseball team associated with a public or private school. You can ask them about playing on their team, and see if they will allow you to access that under part-time enrollment, without going to school there at all. I know other homeschoolers have done that, but I don't know much about the process. You can also search for other baseball experiences in your area. If that interests you, call around to various public and / or private schools in your area to see what their requirements are. 

Want to know what a homeschool transcript looks like? It will usually include these items:

  • Student and school information 
  • Courses taken, credits earned, and grades received
  • Total credits and GPA, yearly and cumulative (See my post on calculating GPA here.)
  • Your child's graduation date
  • Your grading scale
  • Your signature and the date 

There are a couple of other minor things that are generally included, like a notes section to explain any acronyms or abbreviations. You can see a sample transcript here.

There are even a variety of ways that you can arrange your transcript, depending on the way your family does school. I have templates and more information in my online package, The Total Transcript Solution

I hope this has all been helpful. You can make an official homeschool transcript unique to your homeschool and one that shows the uniqueness of your child.

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Monday, 15 July 2024

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