Most every parent understands the importance of creating a high school transcript — that at-a-glance summary of the student’s high school experience, all on one page.
But in addition to a transcript, I also recommend preparing a more comprehensive record of the high school years, too. I suggest creating a comprehensive record that includes more than just a transcript — and which spells out in specific detail the work completed by the student over the last 4 years.
Think of a comprehensive record as a scrap book of sorts, only one designed specifically for your student, specifically about his or her high school years, and specifically designed to make him or her look really, really good.
There is no standard format for creating this kind of record, but I suggest a 3-ring binder that is at least 2″ thick. I also suggest investing in plastic tab-dividers and good-quality document sleeves to keep documents neat and clean, and make them easy to organize within sections.
Sections will be specific to individual students, but I suggest organizing documents into these sections for starters:
- Test Scores
- Course Descriptions
- Honors, Awards, Nominations
- Letters of Recommendation
- Special Projects
- Volunteer Service Records
- Course Outlines
- Work Samples
- Writing Samples
- Reading Lists
- Telling Photos, Flyers and Mementos
Additional sections should be added for things unique to your student. By all means, always include anything that may further highlight or explain what makes him or her unique (and worthy of college admission, scholarship money, or whatever the goal after graduation).
When creating the binder, it can help to keep in mind how and when the binder may be used. Try to imagine people looking at it — the people in your child’s future, the people who can make a difference in his or her life. Imagine, for example, your student showing the binder to an admissions counselor at a college, a scholarship committee, a prospective employer, or another person in a position to evaluate your student and positively impact his life.
I cannot guarantee that a comprehensive record will add to a student’s success, but it can obviously only increase the odds. I have heard from many parents and more than a dozen admissions officers the impact this kind of comprehensive record system has had on student success. I have seen the impact of the comprehensive record in my own family, as well.
I strongly urge all homeschool families to take the time to put a comprehensive record together for every teen in the homeschool. It is a great investment in each child’s future, and delivers great peace of mind for parents, too (just the ease of having all those documents together in one place makes finding and photocopying documents so easy, and eliminates the need to search for papers all the time).
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Cheryl Bastian says
I say, Right ON! Having kept comprehensive records (and recommending others do the same) for years, I have seen the fruit and saved myself a multitude of headaches. When it came time for college applications, I had the info I needed at my fingertips. When we found out about last minute scholarships, we had the information we needed, including the letters of recommendation we had collected and put in the plastic sleeves along the way. Even though the guys have graduated, I keep the folders handy. Each year when renewing financial aid, they are pulled out and provide information we need, fast and headache free. So, as recommended here in this blog, start keeping cumulative folders when students enter 9th grade. Encourage others to do the same. Thanks for the blog, Marie-Claire!