Most students wanting to go to college will need to present some sort of evidence of what they’ve done in school. Most kids use a transcript, so the first question is how can homeschooled students create a transcript?

It seems pretty straightforward to me that they should just make one up. Put a list of courses the kid has done material for and the grade the kid earned. Although certainly you should say the kid got all A’s. Because why not? Each course of study has it’s own standards, which the college knows. And each course has different grading systems. If the kid passes then you are free to call that an A.

For those of you who are cringing, let it be known that this is officially how graduate school works. You get an A or a C. Getting a C is sort of like a fail in graduate school because you can’t get a job in academia with a C on your record. So if the college calls you for a discussion about your grading system, you could just tell them, “pass is A, fail is C.” They know you’re a homeschooler, so they can’t fault you for having your own grading system.

Anyway, every school sort of has their own grading system because a GPA is something that is always relative to other kids in the school. For example a 4.0 is different if it’s from a rural farming school versus a private school in Connecticut.

So since you are making it up, just make it all A’s. It would be absurd if you make it up and don’t make it all A’s. The question would be why? What is the point? To try to convince them that this GPA has meaning relative to other kids? And that begs the question, which kids?

The transcript system is random in its ranking and inadequate in its breadth, so a lot of homeschool parents opt for portfolios instead of transcripts. (And, given that this is an option for homeschoolers, surely school kids with spotty transcripts also opt for the portfolio.)

I figure we are likely to do that, since we don’t have a curricula plan in our house. For my cellist son he’ll probably just have an (insanely high-pressure) audition. But for my STEM-major son we’ll probably have a portfolio. I am not sure what we’ll put in it, so I save a lot.

I have the whole Lego architecture series that the cats use as a playground when they sneak into the garage. I have a model of the solar system that he built. It’s falling apart behind the ping-pong table, and in fact, most of the stuff I saved is becoming a mess in the garage. What if I need to take pictures of it or, worse yet, send a solar system to an admissions officer? I need this stuff to stay clean and safe.

I want to get a storage area for all the stuff I am saving for the portfolio. I know this is totally against Marie Kondo’s method but she is not homeschooling. (If she were, would she make housecleaning part of the curriculum?) The thing about a storage unit is I’d want a place like Closetbox, that picks up right at your house. I don’t want to have to schlep stuff there all the time. And while there are a gazillion Closetbox locations, there is not one in Wisconsin farmland.

So I started taking pictures of everything. Like, this is my son’s kitten project: he captured all the cats on the farm to spay and neuter them so we don’t have a kitten population problem.

He forgot one cat. Which proved fatal to his plan the following spring.

But that wouldn’t be in the pictures. We could have an Instagram portfolio. Or whatever is the hipster equivalent of Instagram when my son is applying to college.

Or maybe my son will tell his own story. It occurs to me that if you have to tell a story through pictures then the person who curates the pictures is the one who tells the story. But if my son wanted someone else to tell his story, he’d enroll in school and define himself with the grades they give him after he learns the material they give him.

So I guess I don’t like the picture idea either.

Which brings me to AP tests. The point of a portfolio is to show that the kid has actually done something to prepare himself for college. So maybe he’ll just get a stack of Princeton Review books and take a bunch of AP tests. At this point, I’m worn out from being a test-taking kid-ranking revolutionary. I just want my son to have options. AP tests are a tried and true way to show competence. And I want to clean out my garage.