Here's what we've done right.
First off, 2 years ago I hired Lee from The HomeScholar to help me with Allison's 9th and 10th grade transcripts. Lee was wonderful. She called me and we discussed Allison's work over that time period and she helped flesh out the transcripts with really good questions. She not only asked about each and every usual subject, she also asked about outside activities, things that Allison liked doing during her free time, and church related things that she did. These questions not only helped Lee, they also helped me to see all that we had accomplished during these two years! It also made me see what to include during the next two years afterwards.
After we had talked, Lee compiled a professional transcript for Allison and sent it to me that day. What I got was three different forms. The first one lists each course by subject. The second lists each course by year. The final paper lists each class title and I added to it by putting textbooks used under each course and I linked each course to the website that sells the course. What was so wonderful about these transcripts was that each one could be easily added to for each consecutive year. In theory, I could add each year as we finished it so that it was fresh in my mind and it would have been quite easy. In reality, I waited until last week to compile the last two years and it was considerably harder.lol
I found Lee's business to be extremely helpful to me. Could I have done it without her help? Possibly. I know that there are many free helps out there these days, but just having someone walk me through the first two years was a tremendous help. She not only helped me flesh out what needed to be put on each transcript, she helped me SEE what transcripts really look like. It is also nice to have actual transcript forms to just enter in the next year's work.
When it was time for me to enter in the next two years worth of school, I purchased Lee's The Easy Truth About Homeschool Transcripts E-Book, plus I also joined the Gold Care Club. I got a bunch of free helps, along with more transcript templates and I also get one free 20 minute phone call with Lee each week for a month. Very nice. Through her website I was able to work through my transcripts without trouble and finished them all in under a week.
What I didn't do well.(lol)
Can we all say Procrastination? I have all of Allison's work, labeled, in notebooks, with her grade sheets added into the books, all on my handy-dandy bookshelves. I really thought it'd be no big deal to enter them into the transcripts on my computer, "at a later date." Boy, was I wrong. It was confusing and hard work to locate every single course at that later date. It was tedious, time consuming, and stressful. I will not do that ever again. That is, of course, after I get Jon's transcripts up to date. (lol)
What I also didn't take into account was what colleges would want in addition to the official transcripts. My big mistake was not going to different college websites to see what kinds of paper trails those popular colleges would expect to see from home school students. Most colleges just want the standard transcripts, along with references, SAT scores, and the college's essay. Not too bad, really. Some of the nicer colleges wanted just a bit more. Of course, being that I didn't actually look on the websites to see if they would want more, I didn't know that they would also want....
Course Descriptions With How We Evaluated Each Course.
Of course Allison decided that her top college pick would be one that needed these dreaded course descriptions. It meant ME going all the way back to 9th grade and writing each and every description, digging out each and every notebook to see each and every grade earned from each and every course. It was almost too much. Out of fear and desperation, I emailed Lee, hoping that she did this service and if I could just email her the transcripts and have HER do it. Money was no object.lol Well, Lee no longer provides this service, but she was a tremendous help. She sent me links all over her website where she showed me how to do course descriptions and even an audio recording called Course Descriptions Demystified. I listened and looked all over her website and then got started.
My first plan of action was to have my Dh make a template for the course descriptions. Looking at Lee's sample, he was able to give me one very quickly. After that, I got started. By far, the first two were the hardest. I began with math, thinking it would be the easiest to find online. I started off looking for course descriptions all over the internet. I looked at the curriculum website (MUS) that I purchased the subject, for their description of the course (there wasn't a good one) and I also looked for table of content links (which they had). I then used a generic course description that I found by googling "pre-algebra course descriptions" and found one that encompassed what the course did. Then I pasted the table of contents page into a section that I labled "Topics included." At the bottom of the page and sometimes on another page, I listed how we graded this course. For this course, I listed Tests, Daily Work, Unit Tests and Final Exam. Can we say TEDIOUS? I did this two more times for Allison's different math courses and then started on Science. Science was a bit easier since I knew what I was doing and it went a tad faster. I am not doing Allison's college dual enrollment courses since we'll be sending those separately once she has offical grades. I do have them listed on her transcripts with a * beside them denoting they were not taken at home.
I was able to do 6 courses yesterday and 5 today. My goal is to finish at the end of this week so I have time to print out all the different copies and allow Allison the time to do her part of the application process on my computer the next week. She has those essays, remember? She also has to work on each application, although only two are due Nov. 1st. We have more time on the rest of them.
So now you know what I've been up to this weekend. If I could share a little advice to anyone just starting this journey, I'd say research 8-10 different colleges, any colleges, to see what they require from homeschoolers and then work towards completing that paperwork right now. It's better to have too much, than not enough when you get to the senior year. It would have made this process a lot easier if I had done my research.