Note: Our family received a free subscription to My Home School Grades for this review. Opinions are our own. No other compensation was involved.
To start with, I have to admit that I find transcripts terrifying and the idea of assigning grades, much less keeping track of them, paralyzing. There’s something intimidating about writing it all down. My early homeschool record-keeping took place in fits and starts, books read, narrations, things checked off a list. I can’t tell you how many times I started with the best of intentions, only to sputter out a few weeks into the process. If you were to look at my records, you’d wonder about our girls’ education.
Standardized test scores say they were/are getting some kind of education. The younger two have tested at the top of the scale over the years. (Youngest’s final state-mandated test is coming up next year, and she’s very happy to see the end in sight.) Eldest is special needs and always struggled with academics. Frankly, I didn’t worry too much about a transcript for her. Just learning as much as possible was a good goal.
Transcripts — the “love language” of colleges (Lee Binz)
I attended an online seminar in creating transcripts, taught by Lee Binz. One of the things she said that struck me is that transcripts are really the way that you communicate with a college that might be considering your student for admission.
Granted, none of ours are interested in college right now. They hear about massive college debt, for one thing, and people having trouble finding jobs even with college degrees. None of them is interested in being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer at this point in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not aimless drifters with no plans for the future. It’s just that their plans don’t necessarily require four more years of academic studies.
Still, they might choose to go to college someday. Add to that, they have been learning an awful lot over the years, of history, geography, literature, science, and yes, even math. I think they could hold their own against their peers. It seems a disservice, not to document their learning somehow, and portfolios and transcripts are the current way to do that.
What I needed was something easy to use, intuitive, that would lead me gently by the hand despite my intimidation.
Enter My Home School Grades…
Okay, more True Confession time here. I did not volunteer to do this review. (Did you know that oftimes reviewers volunteer/beg/plead/submit requests for review products?) I said I’d help out if another reviewer was needed. I really would have preferred, ostrich-like, to have kept my head buried in the sand for another few months of blissful ignorance.
(Do you know how hard it is to put a transcript together from fading memory?)
Of course, the Lord knew what I needed, even though it was not what I wanted. He knew that I had been slipshod in keeping records, and that putting together a transcript for Middlest to graduate in a couple of years would have been even more agonizing than pulling together her records right now.
When I received the link to My Home School Grades with word that I had been picked to review the program, I dutifully signed up for an account — easy! — and started to play around a bit. I entered information for all three of the girls, added a few classes, thought about activities, exited the program, and managed to forget about it until the review deadline was looming.
In the meantime, I took Lee Binz’ online transcripts class, which helped a lot with some of my confusion. (Like, how do you record high school level work done earlier than 9th grade? How do you record college-level work done in high school? How do you actually assign credits for work? How do you figure out grades?) Which means, when I finally got back to My Home School Grades I was a little more confident. I added in lots more classes, a whole slew of activities — volunteering, choir, that sort of thing), even… gasp… assigned grades.
User helps — such as video tutorials
Mind you, I did all this without even checking out the tutorial videos available on the site. I was able to use the site without the tutorials — the whole thing is pretty intuitive. However, I found (afterward) that the videos are very helpful and gave me a much better idea of the scope of this simple-seeming program. It’s amazing how much you can do!
The tutorials currently available show you how to add a student, a class, or activity, and how to generate a transcript from the information you add. You can watch them at theMy Home School Grades website to get a better idea of the program.
For such a simple-seeming program, My Homeschool Grades offers a variety of features. You can keep a record of your child’s learning from kindergarten through grade 12 (and beyond, with community college dual enrollment). There are several options for adding a class. The lesson plan option allows you to choose a particular curriculum (in which case lessons are automatically added) or a custom curriculum (which allows you to create your own lesson plan).
As you can see from the figure above, the program allows you to use weighted grading, in an easy, visual format.
You can also add classes that receive an overall letter grade or pass-fail mark, and there’s an option for indicating dual-enrollment where college and high school credit are earned at the same time.
Adding activities uses the same method as adding classes — drop down menus, intuitive visual feel. In this way, you can document volunteer work, extracurricular activities, choir, band, sports, 4H, and more. You can choose to include these on a transcript, or leave them off, but in any event, you have a record of activities on file.
Transcript creation, at the click of a button
Well, it’s just a little more complicated than that. After all, you have to enter all the information that’s going to appear on the transcript. What My Home School Grades does is arrange it all in a professional-looking format. It looks something like this on the screen:
Click the “Print” button to print out a copy. You have the option of adding the graduation date and the student’s SSN to the transcript before printing; however, this information is not stored. (I really like that the SSN is not stored!)
My Homeschool Grades is offering a 14-day free trial, so I urge you to check it out for yourself. A lifetime membership is $49.99 and covers all the students in your family. No matter where you are in your homeschool journey, convenient, efficient record-keeping is just a few mouse clicks away.