Written by Shannon

So far in our Let’s Build a Transcript series, we’ve gathered information with three prompts, talked about formats and assembling the transcript, had our live hands-on session, and discussed the difference between planned and captured credits.

Let’s talk about Naming Credits, especially when they aren’t from a pre-established course, class, or curriculum.   

How you name the courses/credits is a key part of how you tell the story of your teen’s high school education – the learning, skills, and experiences gained over the high school years or at the high school level.

For the individual reviewing the transcript – whether it be for college admissions, an apprenticeship, or special program – the course title is the first and often the only thing that conveys what was studied or learned, and to what level.

The course title you choose, should reflect the width and depth of the learning, as well as infer the academic rigor.

For example, if you look at the transcript example in Anatomy of a Transcript (in your Free Resource Library),  you’ll see these two programming credits:

Introduction to Android Programming – .5 credit

Java Programming – 1.0 credit


See how the course titles, along with the credit assigned, quickly convey what was covered and to what depth?

Now let’s look at the Science section:

Biology 1A – .5 credit

Biology 1B – .5 credit

Explorations in Physics – .5 credit

Aquatic Science – .5 credit

General Science – 1.0 credit


The combination of course titles and credits tells a story about learning in this field that took place during my son Josh’s high school years. 

In a short course title, there’s no way to really communicate all the cool and interesting activities and learning that took place during that process. But that’s not our objective.

Our objective for the transcript is to communicate our teen’s learning in the language, the terms, that are expected and understood by the individual reviewing the transcript.

In this case, it conveys learning equivalent to two standard high school science courses – biology and general science. It conveys that Biology was broken up into two separate half credits (Not necessary, but made sense in his case.)

Exploration in Physics conveys that his physics-related learning was not a standard high school physics program. Physics was covered, but by naming it as “explorations in physics” I’m conveying something different about the scope, width/depth, and nature of the learning.

Now if you’ve seen a version of my oldest daughter’s transcript, you’ll see it says “Introduction to Physics” – but it was notated as a college level course. That also conveys the width and depth, and scope of learning.   And because it was an actual course – we used the exact title of the course.

So let’s look at that specialty science course on Josh’s transcript – Aquatic science.

Where did I get that course title? After all this is a captured credit – largely based on Josh’s deep dive into breeding and keeping fish.

I used public high school course catalogs – as inspiration – to find the naming convention that is often used for that field of study. And reviewed the related course descriptions to ensure using the title would imply the correct interpretation of the actual learning.

On the last slide of the Course Titles module, I share my list of favorite course title inspiration sources. (see the last slide in the PDF or video)

But here’s three of my “go to” course title inspiration sources – all of which you can use Google to find:

  • Public high school course catalogs
  • College course titles in that subject area
  • Other classes, curriculum or text books that cover that subject area

Again these are inspiration. Use and adapt course titles that reflect what fits your teen’s learning best.

The course description – if you need it – is where you can go deeper into explaining the specific learning within. But the role of the course title is to quickly and simply convey a sense of topic, width/depth, and academic rigor.

Caution: Do not use IB or AP in the course title unless you actually used an IB or AP approved course/curriculum

In my household, a couple of my teens had opinions and preferences on how their education was packaged up. If your teen cares, please be sure to consult with them, so they have a say – if they want it – in how their unique learning is reflected and communicated.

Hope that helps some.

Until Next Time, Happy Learning!
~Shannon

Read More Articles:

Join Our Email List 

for Access to our Free Resource Library & Subscriber-Only QA Calls