Monday, March 23, 2009

Organizing High School Records: Writing a High Schooler's Story

Heart of the Matter is hosting 8 Ways to a More Organized Homeschool Carnival. This week, Week Four, is Organizing Your Records. The posts will be up March 27. In the meantime, you can stop by, read the past week's posts, and be blessed by moms who offer their creative organization tips.

Over the last several weeks I have encouraged moms who are gathering high school records in an effort to write the "stories" of their high school students. One mom was gathering documents for employment, another mom was proving her "good student" was eligible for reduced car insurance. The last mom was in the process of preparing a transcript and other necessary documents required for college admission. I encouraged these moms to keep their high school records well-organized making the high school story writing process less daunting. Accurate and organized record keeping is the key to developing a high school portfolio.

There are many ways to keep high school records. We begin organizing high school records as soon as our students enroll in high school courses, which might be eighth grade if they take Algebra I or other high school level courses. We purchase a two-inch binder, fill it with notebook paper and plastic protector sleeves, and use dividers to create twelve sections, arranged alphabetically:

  • Activities (a listing of sports, scouts, band, choir, youth ministry, 4-H)

  • Awards (each award for Honors Student, Presidential Physical Fitness, Eagle Scout, Student Leader placed in a plastic protective sleeve )

  • Certificates (each certificate for Most Valuable Player, Band President, Varsity sports placed in a plastic sleeve)

  • College admission requirements (for the colleges we are considering)

  • College applications (the actual documents found online, printed out for easily reference)

  • Community service/volunteer hours (a log of hours and the supervisor's contact information from church, community, political, and service organizations where the student volunteered, as well as hours documented in letter format on the organization's letterhead with contact information, dates of service, and hours served)

  • Grades (for each subject completed or currently enrolled)

  • Letters of recommendation (letters, placed in plastic sleeves, from individuals/supervisors who know your student in an educational setting, church setting, work setting, or community setting who can speak to character, work ethic and academic ability)

  • Medical records (verification of shots and any important medical information, colleges will need this for admission)

  • Test results (sent to your home from PSAT, SAT, ACT, CLEP and AP)

  • Transcripts (outside the home, perhaps online classes or correspondence programs)

  • Work experience (listing of employer's contact information, employment dates, advancements, job titles and description of responsibilities)

  • Writing samples (perfect references for college essays)

Important papers and information are filed in the appropriate section as soon as they enter our home (or shortly thereafter!). This system is easily expandable if we need it to be and there is no limit to what we can include. We consider all information necessary until we find out otherwise.

As our students journey through their high school years we file information into the notebook. Having the information in one place speeds the story writing process. To write a resume for a potential employer we reference the letters of recommendation for possible references. At the end of the student's junior year when he/she begins to write college essays, the writing sample section of the notebook is a valuable resource. To write a high school transcript, we format the document on the computer and fill in the needed information from the notebook. We also refer to the notebook as we complete community service and extracurricular sections on college applications. The notebook is a goldmine of nuggets!

Writing your high schooler's high school story is exciting! Whether you are creating a resume for a first job, calculating grades for reduced car insurance premiums, or compiling a college admission's package, your high schooler's notebook will lessen stress and frustration. All the information will be at your fingertips, in one place. The time spent with your high schooler writing his/her story will be a memorable one, one in which you can rejoice togehter. It is the culmination, the last chapter, of the student's homeschool journey. Enjoy writing it!


  1. This is great! I am going to just direct all the moms with high school questions to your blog!

  2. I LOVE all these ideas! I'm going to come back here & actually implement them. My oldest is in 9th grade & I've got some of the things you mention & we have a notebook, but I've got to add more to her story. I just love the idea of making it a story, too, not just records. Thanks so much for sharing on HOTM's carnival!

  3. I greatly enjoyed spending time with YOUR high schoolers this weekend! Some great sons you have there. :-D