I'm sure this has been asked and answered, but in the interest of saving time, I'm just going to ask again: how do you do grades, GPAs, and transcripts for your unschooled high schooler?
My daughter is currently a sophomore in public school, but she really wants to finish out high school at home (she was homeschooled in 6th and 7th grades before deciding she wanted to go back to "regular" school). She's already started planning what she wants to do, and while we're both very excited about it, I'm not sure how to make grades and transcripts gel with unschooling. The two things seem so contradictory to me.
Any advice is welcome, but would especially love to hear from others in PA.
My teenagers have ended up in school prior to graduation. But during the high school years that they weren't in school, or weren't in school full-time, we just documented their natural learning by chopping it up into things we described as courses, and they created a portfolio and/or description of their learning in that area. We did it as a wordpress blog set to private, and then we granted access to whatever school officials wanted to see her records. We assigned credit-weighting and a grade at the end of each "course." Generally my kids earned A's, because, as we stated in the covering documentation, we use a mastery-oriented approach to learning whereby they don't move on until they've mastered the current work to a level of excellence. Where they took an on-line course or did real-life testing (say, when dd did an extension course on Food Safety as part of her Foods & Nutrition course), we've recorded the grades for those things, and they've borne out our general grading. In other words, they earned A's or A-pluses in "official" courses as well, so the unschooling grades didn't look artificially inflated.
Only my eldest is old enough to have applied to colleges, and she ended up having enough of her home-based learning recognized by the school and granted equivalency credits (based on our portfolio) that she was able earn a graduation diploma from them. But we know from talking with the admissions department of the program she's now in that had she applied as a homeschooler instead of as a high school graduate, the sort of portfolio and transcript we created would have been adequate for their purposes.
We are in Canada rather than the US, though. And dd is pursuing music performance, where the audition has the greatest weight, though. So your mileage may vary.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
My friends who have homeschooled kids through high school typically don't give grades. In the end, "Mommy grades" aren't all that credible anyhow, so listing what they've done, while making sure there are at least some achievements outside the home that support that your child likely has done what you say she's done at home. So you might have some community college classes or test scores or work experience (with references) so you aren't asking colleges to just take your word for it.
Have you or your daughter read "College without High School"? It's a good book, intended to be read by the teenager about how to plan your high school years so that you can do what's important to you while also checking the boxes the colleges you're interested in want to see. He also talks about at least one way to put together a transcript.
Most colleges & universities in the U.S. ask for a homeschool transcript (typed up by Mom and teen) and SAT scores, maybe an essay. Here, unschooled/homeschooled teens can start taking college courses (for free) at the age of 14 (Florida), and many start at 15 or 16, taking one, then maybe they will take another, then maybe 2 or 3, then by the time they are done highschool homeschool, they already have college credits and are often easily grandfathered in, sometimes without having to apply at those colleges, then after a year or two of full time, they can transfer to bigger schools, if they do desire.
You can actually call any local colleges and ask what their policy is for homeschoolers. It also might be listed on their websites. Here, high school academic scholarships can be obtained by homeschoolers and so homeschoolers tend to base their transcripts on the requirements for the scholarships, because they tend to be more specific and have more requirements than the colleges do. So if your area has standard academic scholarships for high schoolers, you might want to see if they are available to homeschoolers, as well. Unschoolers are simply a type of homeschoolers, by the way, even for these purposes. Note that scholarships and college requirements for homeschoolers change often, sometimes every year, so if your children are young, you really don't need to look into it until around 8th or 9th grade, then each year thereafter, to make sure you don't miss something important.