Over and over, I see homeschooling families sending their teens to school because they are afraid of destroying their chances for higher education. But you do not have to be afraid to homeschool high school. Ordinary families can be successful and they can get their children into college, sometimes even on scholarships. In Setting the Records Straight Lee Binz helps show the way.
So, what can you learn from Setting the Records Straight: How to Craft Homeschool Transcripts and Course Descriptions for College Admission and Scholarships? First of all, preparing high school records is a step-by-step process, made up of small, manageable tasks. In fact, when I use Lee’s method that’s what I love most about it. I’ve told my family for years, “It’s like filling in the blanks, one blank at a time.” And I can do that! So can you.
Setting the Records Straight is divided into three encouraging sections, one about transcripts, one about course descriptions, and one full of examples.
The first third of Setting the Records Straight is about preparing a transcript, determining high school credit, and assigning grades, even if you don’t use traditional tests and textbooks. In fact, one chapter is entitled Delight-Directed Learning and discusses how to present non-traditional learning in a way that colleges will understand. This part of the book shows examples of transcripts and emphasizes over and over that there is no single right way to do things. All public schools differ in how they grade and make up their transcripts…so whatever method you choose will be just fine. One point that I had forgotten: schools often give marks for attendance, classroom participation, and even effort—it’s not just about the tests and assignments.
The second third of the book is about writing course descriptions—or about avoiding it all together. Because writing course descriptions can be an intimidating thing to do, given what is at stake, Lee carefully explains how to get started, where to get ideas, and how to make it work. When I first began writing course descriptions after reading several high school course calendars and Lee’s examples, I found that it was not has hard as I had expected—after filling my mind with course description examples, it was suddenly easier to write them, just as Lee said it would be.
The final third of Setting the Records Straight is pure gold: examples of real course descriptions and other records from three families. The records each family sent to universities are so very, very different, but each of them was successful, leading not only to university admittance, but also to significant scholarships. You can base your records on those in this section (our family keeps records very similar to Lee’s) or you can develop your own method from what you learned earlier in the book.
One important point Lee makes is that you do not need to change how you homeschool in order to make a successful transcript. It’s not about the method of education but about how you present it. Your official homeschool records are simply a translation of your teen’s individual homeschool experience into words and numbers that colleges can understand.
The other vital point she makes is that when we teach our teens, knowledge is important, wisdom is important, but character is the most important. High school is not only about academics.
Caution: Don’t do as I did when I read Lee’s transcripts for her teens. I got discouraged. Because her kids are amazing, it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap. Don’t. Lee’s records are there as an example, not for us to compare our families to. Our kids are each great in their own way, with the talents God gave them to use in His service. Our job as homeschooling moms is to observe, encourage, and assist them in developing their talents…and to document that in their university application records.
That being said, Lee’s detailed records did help me see a blind spot that has developed in our homeschool this year—we’re not writing enough.
Lee Binz is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and encouraging homeschool high school consultants around. We have followed her record keeping advice for years with great results. Her advice is wonderful and I recommend it to every homeschooling mom of teens.
I think that if you’re homeschooling high school, you owe it to yourself and your family to check out this book. Other homeschoolers agree. Setting the Records Straight is one of the few books I’ve seen on Amazon with a 4.9 star rating, probably because it answers a great need and answers it well.
For more encouragement on homeschooling high school, see my other posts and reviews on high school planning and record keeping here. I’d also recommend signing up for Lee’s encouraging newsletter at The HomeScholar and checking out her YouTube videos.