Why write course descriptions? Many people will tell you they aren't necessary, but here are three important reasons not to shirk on that job.
1. The College May Need Them
Course descriptions are best written each year, as you complete each class. Waiting until the last minute, when your child decides which college to attend and you find out they are required by the college, can cause enormous stress and headaches that can easily be avoided.
Some colleges say they "don't need" course descriptions, but most colleges require, request, or appreciate course descriptions. In my experience, your homeschool course descriptions can make the difference in scholarships, even when the college says they don't need them. And even humble homeschoolers can earn big scholarships by providing things like course descriptions.
Colleges would rather NOT give scholarships, of course, and they don't want to create any impediments to paying full price for college, so for that reason, sometimes a few colleges say "no thank you.", but I still find it helpful financially. The more information you can provide about your homeschool, the more colleges understand the value of home education.
2. The Future May Need Them
Your child's future may require course descriptions. If your child decides not to go to college now, perhaps these descriptions aren't used immediately. However, it's not uncommon for adults to change careers and go to college later in life - and course descriptions may be needed at that time. If course descriptions are not needed for college this time, they may be needed in 10 years when a child returns to college for a master's degree.
You see, when parents have a 28 year old who wants to go to college but needs a transcript, they call me for help. I know that it's tempting to think that today is the only situation that might require a transcript or course descriptions, but children continue to grow and change. Situations continue to change. Even if you don't need it until 10 years later, when your child finally wants to go to college, that transcript and course description information is important!
3. The Permanent Record May Need Them
Finally, because we are the school, we need to provide the "permanent record." While transcripts are often enough to fulfill that obligation, I have seen situations where a grown adult males needed course descriptions to achieve his dream job of working overseas.
I admit, I do get frustrated when I hear someone say "you don't need course descriptions" as a universal declaration. People who are writing course descriptions don't yet know what college their children will attend, and have no way of knowing whether they will be required or not. These records are not just "wiggle your nose the PRESTO they're done" documents. They take time and effort, and planning ahead is always the best strategy with something like that.
Provide course descriptions any way that you can - short or long, whatever works for you, so you are prepared for any college application at any time in the future.
How to Write Course Descriptions
They can be long or short, but should have 3 ingredients: a description of the class, a list of resources used, and some description of how you graded. Write course descriptions for all classes, not just core classes, and not just electives. It's equally important to write course descriptions for all classes. The course descriptions will give detail to your child's high school career, so including all of the classes in this document is important.
The words "course descriptions" may sound scary and intimidating, but the process is actually much easier than it sounds. This article is an easy read and will give more information on course descriptions: How to Write Perfect Course Descriptions.
If you feel you need more help, be sure to check out my online package, Comprehensive Record Solutions. With all of the templates and resources to help you make the transcript, course descriptions, and all of the college admission documents, it might be just what you need.
Here are general guidelines to help you plan high school courses.
Provide 4 years of reading and writing at your child's level. This can include literature, writing, composition, speech...
Anyone can take an AP test, even if they have not taken an AP course. The tests are really hard, really long, and the student needs to be prepared.