How to Handle Credit Levels on Homeschool Transcript

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Handle Credit Levels on Homeschool Transcript.

How to Handle Credit Levels on Homeschool Transcript

How to Handle Credit Levels on Homeschool Transcript

At, we often receive questions about how to show the level of rigor of high school courses on the homeschool transcript. It is a good question. Before we get started, remember there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school. That means there’s not ONE right way to record levels of rigor. Even in the traditional school setting,  there is a variety of methods for this.

That said, Sabrina is sharing today about the way we have recorded level of rigor on our homeschoolers transcripts. It has worked well for decades and is still being used by our local homeschool community. Here goes:

So, a credit is a credit, right? Not really. There is a huge range of the kinds of credit teens are experiencing. For example: 9th grade English/Language Arts is WAY more work with many more components than, say, a 9th grade Social Studies credit. ELA includes reading, reading with analysis, writing of various kinds, vocabulary, grammar, public speaking…it’s a LOT. There is more work that goes into the life preparation that teens learn as they handle their ELA experiences.

On the other hand, studying American History (or another History) does not need as many hours. Your teen will be mastering information and materials in history class. There are a variety of ways to do this but it is less complex than ELA.

So, each credit is not the same.

Now, college admissions officers are looking for a certain kind of student that will enhance their student body and meet their college’s goals. The starting point of their evaluation of each student is their application, which includes their transcript. All credits are not the same in the level of rigor of the work completed.

Admissions officers do not know your homeschool high schooler. They do not know how awesome they are and how hard they have worked. All they have is an application with its transcript (and reference letters, of course). The transcript is vital because it gives a snapshot into all the things these busy admissions officers need to know about your teen!

In order to do their work as well as they can, they explain to schools about the things they are generally looking for.  One thing they are looking for is evidence of the levels of rigor at which your homeschooler has worked on each particular course. Thus, the idea of showing “levels” for each course helps admissions officers get a glimpse into your teens:

  • interests (especially for a major)
  • abilities
  • willingness to work hard at academics

So, showing credit levels on homeschool transcripts is valuable for the college application process.

Adjusting credit levels to teens needs and interests also helps you tweak high school courses so that they are best-fit for each student. Hey, that’s one thing that is SO awesome about homeschooling. We can tailor courses to meet our teens needs and interests!

For instance, perhaps a teens love Biology and is thinking about that as a college major. You might not only have your teen complete the Bio textbook and labs, but add lots of field trips, hands-on experiences, paper-writing, interviews and documentaries.

You want to show all this work on the transcript!

That’s what leveling-up is about for the homeschool transcript.

How can your teen show interests and abilities on the transcript?  Show  credit levels!

Here’s an overview of credit levels for the homeschool transcript.

Level 1 Remedial

This is for students with special need and truly struggle in certain areas. High school is a great time for remediating and skill building. This is wonderful! Homeschooling is about giving teens the things they need. If your teen needs remediation, go for it. (Level 1 courses, however, are not good for college-preparatory transcripts.)

Level 2 Average

This is a credit for average high schoolers. These are courses that most students can take and master well. They are not intense courses, not time consuming, not really college prep. These are courses that are good for workforce headed teens.

Level 3 College Prep

These credits are courses that prepare students for college. Courses include more intensity of assignments and require more time and work than a Level 2. Teens who do well in these courses are learning good academic skills (independent learning, study skills, time management) and subject preparation. College-bound teens should often be able to do much of this work with supervision but not much hand holding (although this varies by teen, after there’s not ONE kind of homeschool high schooler). Many homeschool textbooks are written at Level 3 College Prep. If a teen has a Level 2 text, add extra hours of experiences to bring this credit to level 3.

Level 4 Advanced

These credits are more rigorous (thus more competitive on the homeschool transcript). Your student can earn this credit by adding on about another 1/2 credit’s learning experiences to their textbook work. This can be done with reading extra real books (think rigor, so maybe 10 moderately-sized books) or 60-68 hours of field trips, research and paper writing, hands-on activities, interviews and shadowing experiences.

Level 5 Honors

These credits are highly rigorous. They require about double the work of an average high school credit. Add to textbook learning: 120-180 hours of reading extra real books (think rigor, so maybe 10 moderately-sized books) and 60-68 hours of field trips, research and paper writing, hands-on activities, interviews and shadowing experiences.

Many teens will not need Level 5 courses for all their courses. Choose core courses or electives that advance their college-major interests and/or abilities. Do not overload your teen (unless they are aiming for a military academy or highly-competitive college).

On the homeschool transcript, record the title of the course WITH the level at which the work is done. Be sure to include a key or legend at the bottom of your transcript that briefly explains how the levels are earned.

Do you weight these courses differently? There’s not ONE right way to handle this. Colleges have an algorithm that allows them to compare apples to apples on weighted and unweighted credits. (Thus, we don’t bother weighting.) Check out these posts for more on GPA and weighting.

Choose wisely on levels for your homeschoolers. Check out this episode on realistic expectations and for how to use levels with 7Sisters curriculum.

Join Sabrina for practical wisdom on how to handle credit levels on homeschool transcript.


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How to Create Honors Credits on Homeschool Transcript

A Production of the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: How to Create Honors Credits on Homeschool Transcript.

How to Create Honors Credits on Homeschool Transcript

Vicki shares how to create a powerful transcript by building Honors credits. She explains the method called “leveling up” that her family and the homeschool umbrella school that all the 7Sisters’ homeschoolers have graduated from. Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode that explains the concept of “Levels”.

If you have homeschool high schoolers who are headed for college, it is likely they will need to show rigor on the homeschool transcript. How do you handle creating courses with rigor and showing them on the transcript?

Well, it’s complicated! There are not any unified how-to’s. Our advice is:

  • Choose your method
  • Keep it consistent through all core courses (core courses are Language Arts, Maths, Sciences, Social Studies and World Languages)
  • Make sure you create a legend or key on transcript that explains a little about how the level of rigor was achieved
  • Be sure to record along with the title of the course, the level of rigor that your homeschool high schoolers achieved

This is how we do it. First decide on the level for each course:

Level 1: Remedial Level

  • This is not college level. It is for student who are severely behind or have learning disabilities.

Level 2: Average High School Level

  • These are courses with textbooks that have easier reading levels and shorter lessons. Some examples would include: Westfield Studios 101, Pacemaker series.
  • If your homeschool high schoolers complete a Level 2 course it will not prevent them from getting into college.
  • However, the colleges that accept Level 2 courses will most likely be community colleges or some private colleges.
  • Make sure that the Level 2 courses are not in the courses that will become your teens’ college majors.
  • Very few courses should be Level 2 for college-bound teens.

Level 3: College Preparatory Level

  • Most available textbooks are Level 3. Some examples of Level 3 publishers are,Apologia, BJU Press and Abeka.

Level 4: Advanced Level

  • This level is more powerful than college prep.
  • Leveling up the Level 3 to Level 4 in our homeschool umbrella school requires completing a Level 3 course plus one half of another Level 3 course of that same topic.
  • This will earn 1 credit of that course at Level 4.
  • It is an attractive credit to many colleges.

Level 5: Honors Level

  • An Honors level homeschool high school course is similar in rigor to an AP course. However, the title “AP” can only be used by courses specifically approved by  the College Board. They own that designation.
  • Honors level courses are highly rigorous; they require a lot of work. This is worth it for teens who are applying to competitive private or state colleges.
  • Concentrate on Honors level for courses in the general area of your homeschool high schoolers’ future major or interest area.
  • Some competitive colleges want to see ALL core courses at Honors level. Check with colleges of interest for their requirements.

Create a college-attractive transcript by building Honors-level credits. Develop powerful credits by adding extra rigor for Honors courses.

How do you develop Honors credit?

It is hard work. A teen working on a Level 5 Honors credit will be doing about double the Level 3 College Prep.

7Sisters textbooks and Literature Study Guides include instructions (with Literature Study Guides the instructions vary by age and grade). Listen to this HSHSP episode for tips on using the levels feature of 7Sisters curriculum.

Start with:

Textbook average or college prep.

Then add:

  • Add 16 extra real book in interest areas/subject area
  • For example, if Biology will be your teen’s major: choose books exploring an interest such as birds, including:
    Books on Famous Ornithologists, Bird behaviors
  • Write summary of each book

The textbook plus 16 books and summaries become ONE Honors credit.

Another way to earn an Honors credit could be adding a Carnegie credit.

For more information on Carnegie credits check out this post.

Start with:

Textbook average or college prep.

Then add:

  • Logged extra Carnegie Unit of credit (varies by state 120-180 hours of instruction). Make sure you document these hours.
  • Create the Carnegie credit by:
    • Developing an interest through field trips, writing research papers (keys with Language Arts), projects, related volunteer work, related apprenticeships
    • For instance, if your teen’s interest is Psychology, volunteer at rescue mission to see what other people’s lives are like
  • Make these hours useful to your teen.
  • Keep really good logs. Suggestion: have teens log hours themselves. This develops independent learners (or panicked learners if they put logging off too long.)

The textbook plus Carnegie credit becomes ONE Honors credit.

Or try a combination

  • College textbook plus 8 books and half-credit logged hours.

Remember, homeschool high schoolers are doing double credits BUT on transcript they only receive 1 credit. College admissions officers LOVE these Honors credits.

Search Honors credit at 7Sisters for more ideas.


When teens develop interest they feel engaged and proud of themselves. It gives them a nice expertise in an area and creates a powerful transcript. When the Honors credit is in an area of their choice, they can use this expertise in a college admissions interview.

How to Create Honors Credits on Homeschool Transcript