High School Documentation

Colleges need written proof of homeschooling. Documentation includes portfolios, transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and student essays.

  • Diploma
  • Portfolio
  • Transcript


A diploma is simply a certificate of completion and not a documentation of coursework.


A portfolio consists of descriptions and examples of the student’s work and accomplishments. Usually the parent also writes a detailed description of the homeschool program.

Pros: A portfolio may work well for unschoolers – those whose homeschooling is based on student-directed projects and real-world experiences. It may also be best for a student who has developed and/or run a business or who has pursued an interest in-depth.

Cons: Due to time constraints, most admissions officers follow specific formulas for admissions (grade point averages, standardized test scores, high-school class requirements) and simply will not take the time to analyze the contents of a portfolio.


A transcript is the standard format used to document course work. It involves a list of coursework along with the grade given for that course. Some transcripts also list course descriptions, the student’s interests, and other outside activities. A thorough transcript should include:

  • The specific name of the course, not the text title.
  • Completed high school courses and letter grade.
  • The words “with Lab” if the science course included a full complement of labs. Without this, admissions officers may assume no labs were done.
  • Use of correct terminology. It is also important that both student and parent know what the terminology means (such that the student will be able to provide any explanations during a college interview).
  • Additional information such as test scores, student interests and activities, and community service hours can also be documented.

Pros: The transcript is a familiar format for colleges, making it easy for them to understand and categorize your student according to their criteria. Transcripts also serve several other purposes: you may use them to obtain lower driver’s insurance rates for good grades; some states require them to obtain work permits; and you may need a transcript to apply for some scholarships.

Cons: The transcript will not provide the depth of information that a portfolio will show. This may be a deterrent for students who have chosen less traditional paths of education.

Making a Transcript