One of the most frequent questions we get asked by both parents and students is, “How do your transcripts work?” As an alternative school without typical classes and without grades, our transcripts look different than traditional schools, and because our students do a lot of independent projects, they also run a lot longer than traditional schools. Despite the length and difference, however, we’ve found that other institutions actually prefer our transcripts because they give a more complete picture than what is provided by a traditional one.
The first page of the transcript contains three sections, each of which are written in a narrative style. One section explains any real-world experiences and internships that the student completed, another provides concise details on whatever high-quality skills the student has explicitly demonstrated, and the third is a short reflection on the student’s growth during their time at LiHigh School. The latter is written in such a way as to provide the overall story of the student.
The rest of the transcript is made up of descriptions of the student’s courses and projects. It captures their work here at the school, any college courses they may have completed through Vermont’s dual-enrollment program, and any internships and independent projects they completed. It looks like the following:
|Year||Subject or Project||Relevant Learning Goals||Format||Scope & Description||Depth of Understanding|
|2011||River Ecology||Empirical Reasoning||Internship||A six-month internship with the Poultney Mettawee Natural Resources Conservation District during which the student worked to restore and promote a series of trout habitats along the Mettawee River||Application|
|2012||BUS 2045: New Venture Creation & Entrepreneurship||Social Reasoning||College Course||A fifteen-week course at Green Mountain College that explores the key drivers in the growth of entrepreneurship and the factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success and failure||Comprehension|
(Last week, we explained the Depth of Understanding section in detail, so if you’re curious about that, check out our post, “Going Grade-less & Credit-less.”)
In addition to the transcript, students at LiHigh School also develop a portfolio of work that demonstrates their abilities in all of our Phase Level Expectations. While not required by colleges, a portfolio of student work can sometimes highlight a student’s abilities even more than their transcript. We recommend that all of our students maintain a portfolio of their highest quality work for just this reason.
As mentioned, the LiHigh School style of transcript seems to be preferred by colleges nowadays. Rather than just listing “English” and “Math,” along with a letter grade, our transcripts provide a short description of what was actually covered in the course, giving admissions counselors more information to base their decisions on.
Every graduate of LiHigh School who has decided to go onto college has been accepted into at least one of the colleges they applied to, and every admissions counselor we’ve talked to about the transcript has told us how helpful they are.
Our transcripts may be different, but clearly, they work.