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Course Numbers and Transcript Details

When to include or exclude course numbers in your high school transcripts. 

by Shirley Minster

As an educational consultant and director of a private school, I have read and prepared hundreds of high school transcripts over the past 23 years and have seen a wide range of notations, as one would imagine. There are some important pieces that should always be included when preparing a transcript for a college.

Include the specific name of the course, not the text title: for instance, English 9 or Algebra I. The place for the text title(s) would be in a portfolio, not on the transcript.

Course numbers are not necessary for high school courses. In fact, they may cause confusion for the college admissions people. Instead, use “AP” (Advanced Placement) if such a course was taken or “Coll” (College Prep) is the course was that level. If your child took an actual college course, use the course number ALONG WITH the actual title from the college, the grade achieved, and the credit(s) the college awarded.

College admissions folks appreciate reading straightforward transcripts, not ones that are composed to look official. By that I mean, don’t use numbers just because someone else came up with them. Colleges use numbers to keep things straight in their course catalogs and timeline for their students.

Another suggestion is to include the words with Labs if the science course included a full complement of labs. This way, admissions will know labs were done. If they don’t see it, they may assume no labs were done.

As for those unique courses, such as ditch digging, that falls under the category Construction. Try to determine what category unique courses would fall in. For instance, beekeeping is Apiology, not Animal Sciences.

The use of correct terminology is important and both the student and parent need to know what each term on the transcript means. When the student goes for an interview with a college admissions officer, s/he must have a handle on each term so that if explanations are needed, s/he can give it graciously. Saying, “Gee, I don’t know,” doesn’t go over very well. A teen college applicant should be able to say something similar to:

“Apiology is the focused study on beekeeping. I took a full year course taught by the Maine Apiology Association and received my license. Now I have ten sets of hives and sell my produce in five local grocery stores. I’m thinking about expanding and selling to Maine and New Hampshire in the next year.”

Now, THAT will make them sit up and take notice! Of course, that’s also not an unusual statement for a homeschooler, as we all know. 🙂

Shirley Minster, Director
Home Education & Family Services / Royal Academy

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