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How to Calculate Homeschool Credits

How do homeschool credits work? How do I calculate Homeschool Connections credits? Everything you need to know.

If you are new to Homeschool Connections, you may have questions about how HSC’s semester credits work and how they translate to your particular state’s graduation requirements. In this article, we will answer your questions about homeschool credits in general. We will then cover how to apply Homeschool Connections credits to your child’s transcript.

What is a Carnegie Credit?

Before beginning, we should talk about the concept of credits. Credits are one of the primary methods educational entities use to determine and document that students have met academic requirements, generally at the high school and collegiate levels. They represent “seat hours,” i.e., the time students spend in a classroom.

In the United States, credits are loosely based on the Carnegie unit, which equates one credit to one hour of class per day over 24 weeks. However, it’s essential to know this is just a guideline; the specifics of classes often vary from the Carnegie unit standard. Most states require students to complete 18 to 24 Carnegie credits to be eligible for a high school diploma.

Typically, students are expected to complete one full credit for subjects such as math, science, and English annually.  Electives and courses like US government and economics are usually expected to be half-year (or one-semester) credits.

Calculating Homeschool Credits

As homeschoolers, the credit system doesn’t translate easily for us since it is designed for site-based schools where students are confined to a desk five days a week. However, we still need to work with them. For example, most colleges require transcripts to reflect students’ academic accomplishments in the Carnegie unit standard. Furthermore, some states require that homeschool parents provide written documentation of credits to graduate from high school.

We must, therefore, “translate” our children’s homeschool lessons into the credit system so that state governments and colleges can evaluate our children’s academic history. To document time spent on earning credits, here are activities that can be included (but not limited to):

  • Time spent in a co-op or online class
  • Research and reading
  • Viewing video lectures or listening to audio lectures
  • Writing papers
  • Developing projects
  • Topic discussions
  • Group presentations
  • Field trips
  • Test-taking

Generally, homeschoolers do this by equating a full-time semester in a given subject with 1/2 Carnegie credit. For example, a child who completes a full-time history course in the Fall and Spring semesters earns one full credit in history. A student who completes a psychology semester course obtains 1/2 credit for psychology.

Homeschool Connections Credits

When using multiple third-party curriculum providers, such as Homeschool Connections, homeschooling parents may need to evaluate each program’s credit system.

Homeschool Connections works on a semester system based on two semesters per school year. Most states require 120 hours of schoolwork to earn a one-year (two-semester) credit. When calculating credit hours, we consider both active class participation and independent learning (see the bulleted list above). We base our recommendations on the student who is actively engaged in the coursework.

Generally speaking, a Homeschool Connections online course must be at least 12 weeks long to earn one full semester credit (1/2 annual credit).

Where to Find Homeschool Connections Recommended Course Credits

Homeschool Connections offers suggestions for how much credit our course offerings are worth. When perusing the HSC catalog, you will notice each course is assigned a recommended credit. Generally, this is pretty straightforward. For example, Dr. Sam Nicholson’s “Classical Syllogistic Logic” course listing reads, “Suggested credit:1 full semester Philosophy or Logic.” You may, however, occasionally find more varied classes, like Kerrie Berends’ 7-week “High School Health,” which recommends “1 high school credit (.5 for fitness and .5 for nutrition) when taken High School Personal Nutrition.”

These are suggestions for how you should apply the course’s credit. For example, by saying Dr. Nicholson’s logic course is worth “1 semester of Philosophy or Logic”, we are suggesting you count the course for whatever one full-time semester would be worth in your state (generally, 1/2 of an annual credit in a given subject).

We must, therefore, “translate” our children’s homeschool lessons into the credit system so that state governments and colleges can evaluate our children’s academic history.

What About Partial Credits?

In addition to full-semester courses, Homeschool Connections also offers partial-semester courses. These may be summer boot camps, supplemental courses, or courses designed to be combined with other HSC courses.

Parents often use these shorter courses (2 to 10 weeks) to supplement other programs. You can also combine them with other HSC courses to earn full credit. For example, if you take two of Professor Joseph Pearce’s six-week literature courses, you can combine them to equal one full semester (1/2 annual) of Literature. Combine four of Professor Pearce’s six-week courses for a full year of Literature credit.

It can be confusing when you see a course listed as 3/4, 2/3, 1/2, 1/3, or even 1/4 semester credit. To help you, we will often include suggestions of how to expand the short course into a full-credit course. You’ll find this in the “suggested course credit” section of the course description. You can also call or email us for assistance.

Transcript Service

While this can be a little overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner, it is essential to remember that as a homeschooling parent, you make the final call on what your student’s academic effort is worth.

Homeschool Connections is not a school or a program; we are a curriculum provider whose mission is to empower your homeschooling efforts. Our credit recommendations are just that—recommendations. But if you are looking for professional help, HSC partners with FastTranscripts. FastTranscripts will set up a professional transcript according to educational industry standards and can even submit it electronically to over 4,000 colleges and universities. Click here to learn more about FastTranscripts.

For Further Help

If you prefer to create your own transcripts, see our Free Homeschool Form page for help.

If you’d like to explore other options for applying credits, such as the mastery system, see this article: Calculating Homeschool Credits.

Lastly, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions: Homeschool Connections Contact. I also invite you to join other Catholic homeschooling parents and me at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group to connect and learn from other HSC families.

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