Unschooling Transcripts

To continue from my previous post about my daughter’s natural path to attending college, I thought it would be interesting to share my responsibilities as the administrator of our homeschool as it pertains to the application process.  When my children were younger and we were just still in the young years of unschooling, I would periodically listen in on workshops and conversations from those further down the path.  In particular interest was the college application process.  Talk of how to keep track of studies that would go on the official transcripts would ensue.  It always seemed too overwhelming to me, and frankly, too packaged for the freestyle learning life we were experiencing.  I questioned my ability to be that organized.

Fast forward to my oldest son turning 14 and thus, being of high school “age”.  I still couldn’t get myself to be that organized.  I chose the unconcerned path that it would all work out in the end.  I think the biggest reason I felt comfortable with this approach is that my hubby is an academia enthusiast.  He LOVES to learn and often contemplates trying to work out his ability to return to his favorite environment:  university.  And he’s good at it.  He knows how to work a resume as much as a university application.  He sells himself well.  During my business college years, I also discovered I had a knack for selling things.  I did an externship at a radio station where I started off as the sales secretary, moved to personally generating donations to the station myself, and finally ended up as the personal assistant to the owner of the station.  In three months!  During my employment stints, I also discovered that I knew how to sell myself both on paper and during the interview process.  So, I guess I went into this arena with some confidence on both ends backing up my laid-back stance.

Admittedly, I’m still probably on the learning curve on how to present the unschooled transcript on paper at its best, but I’m satisfied with the level in which I intend to present it.  There are certain things I’m willing to do to accommodate our different educational choice, and there are certain things I’m not willing to negotiate.  Taking the GED, for instance, is one thing I’m going to discourage my children to do.  Each state has regulations regarding home education and its legal status which includes the administrator having the right to graduate its students, so I refuse to be required to jump through an additional hoop outside the given law.  It’s like they say, “Yes, we give you the right to homeschool, but we will not give you the respect or validity without some connection to our system.”  Tough.  I force the validity to occur by refusing their extra hoops.  That said, because our learning environment is different from the school system, our transcripts will look different as well.   I decided not to replicate the traditional transcript.

So, here’s Abbey’s transcript as submitted to Brigham Young University, both Provo and Idaho:

Drat the formatting on this site!  (If anyone can direct me as to how to turn off the automatic double spacing upon hitting the return, I would be much obliged.)  Ha!  I decided to upload it as a photo and forget the cut and paste . . . tricked the system :-)

Anyway, my new addition to my transcripts is to depict “advanced placement courses”.  These are any subjects studied that there was either a significant amount of time dedicated to it (giving value to process) or a significant amount of physical output (giving value to product).  To give a brief comparison to the world’s measurement standard (the ACT scores) and my daughter’s actual experience with learning, I give the following information:

For her perfect grammar score, Abbey worked through all five Daily Grams books from the age of about 13-16 years old.  No formal work before or after that except that she wrote novels from age 14-19.  Daily Grams is supposed to be a “supplement” to a real grammar program, but I disagree.  Most grammar programs just try to make something that is simple, hard.

Abbey had no formal English (34 score-excellent) or reading comprehension (28 score-above average) programs or exercises.  She read voraciously, although “below her level” by what others would think.  She also re-read books hundreds of times sometimes.  She wrote very simple stories when young, never more than a couple paragraphs.  She started journaling around nine years old.  She started writing novels at 14 years old.

For her average math score (20-average), she worked her way through a conceptual math series (out of print, called Real Math) that took her through pre-algebra.  She worked through some of Saxon algebra and stopped.

For her science (25-above average), she never used a formal textbook or even read many science-related books.  She was huge into nature and loved animals.  She learned a lot from experience.

Many of the classes listed on her transcript were from experience.  How I came up with the classes was to remember what colleges are looking for:  science, history, foreign language, math, etc., and put educationese to what she did in those categories.  The reason I started there was because my children really do a whole lot more than those types of subjects.  However, I don’t want to overkill the point of a transcript.  After putting down the required courses desired from colleges, I then generously sprinkle their gifts and passion throughout the transcript to highlight that.  Last, I add a course or two that shows diversity in experience.

I refuse to “gather proof” throughout the years because it would then take a beautiful emergent life of discovering one’s passion and purpose and water it down to dotting i’s and crossing t’s.  It will turn something that is multi-dimensional into a one-dimensional depiction.  Luckily, my children feel the same way and are willing to forego a college who doesn’t recognize this to find one that will.  Hopefully, if we “sell ourselves” well, which could include an interview if necessary, though I don’t think that will be necessary for her college of choice (BYU-Idaho), her life as it really unfolded will be more than enough.  And, of course, it is :-)

3 Responses to Unschooling Transcripts

  1. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. This is really interesting, Cindy, and so helpful. I’ve been avoiding thinking about the whole transcript thing for years for the same reasons you did – too far away, too overwhelming, and too rigid. Now I”m beginning to think about it more and pondering how/whether to do things such as have the kids keep reading logs starting in late “middle school” years to document reading to help fill out some kind of a transcript later. I hope to be able to do this much more flexibly as you have. I look forward to hearing how this all pans out for your daughter!

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