Posted in HS4CC

Parent question: Do I need to write course descriptions?

Do I need to write course descriptions? Is this necessary, or just an exercise in creating more work on the Chief Administrator/parent?  

Course descriptions tend to be required only by the smaller private liberal arts colleges, especially when they have a small pool of applicants or aren’t as experienced at reviewing homeschool candidates. Your community colleges will never ask for descriptions, and it is rare that a public college or university will. Since just over half of all regionally accredited colleges in this country are “open enrollment” (which is to say everyone is admitted) it’s certainly not something you HAVE TO DO as part of a college application process. But, if you know your teen is targeting selective, competitive, or elite colleges, this might be part of their application.

What is a course description? A course description is a short summary that explains what your high school course covered.

Why might it be required? If a college can not accept all their applicants, we can say that admissions is competitive. When a college has more applicants than slots, they create criteria to filter through the applications, and in this case, may look at how rigorous your teen’s high school courses were.

Who writes a course description? The parent / school administrator or creator of the course .

Where does it come from? If you’re using a curriculum that was written for you (example: Saxon Algebra 2, Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2, etc.) your course description can be based on what the publisher or author has already written. You’re not reinventing the wheel in this case, you can simply copy/paste from their website. If you don’t immediately find what you need, you can simply email the publisher and ask for a course description.

“Course Description: This course covers advanced algebra topics including: linear equations, matrices, absolute value, inequalities, factoring, parabolas, quadratics, complex numbers, exponents, polynomials, functions, composite functions, inverse functions, rational expressions, conic sections, probability mechanics, algebraic and geometric sequences and series and basic trigonometric functions. Most topics include solving and graphing equations. Students will learn by using online texts and videos. Students will do daily problem solving, including SAT prep questions. Grading will be based on quizzes, tests and a final exam.” Easy Peasy All in One High School

What if you’re using a non-traditional or eclectic approach? You can look through samples and model yours after theirs. My advice is to adopt a template or format and use that for every description for every course your teen takes. An example of a format / template you might use:

Course Title:_____________ <– give it a name “Children’s Literature”

Grade Level:_______ <– when did you teach it? “11th grade”

Credits: _____ <– 1 semester is usually 0.5 and 1 year is usually 1.0

Course Description: _______ <– write your description using 2-5 sentences.

Primary Textbook: ______ <– Use a formal APA style. What is APA style?

Can I see samples? Yes!

Accounting I – Honors
Grade 11
1 credit
Accounting I is the first of a two-course sequence that prepares students for the College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) in Financial Accounting. The course consists of learning experiences designed to enable students to set up accounts and prepare qualitative records, verify the accuracy of data by applying auditing principles, and prepare budgets and final reports. The entire accounting cycle is presented with application problems to simulate authentic business experiences. Current accounting software is integrated throughout the course.
Primary Textbook: Accounting Principles: A Business Perspective, Financial Accounting

You can use Google to search for schools that publish their course descriptions online. The Accounting course sample above was copied from this site:

Pro Tip: the transcript is simply an academic record and should never include anything beyond the course’s title. If you have to submit course descriptions, that is its own document that can be submitted with, but separate from, the student’s transcript.

Transcript Resource Page

It’s only the most important homeschool document you’ll ever create!  No pressure. We have lots of free and paid resource recommendations below. One thing to be aware of, is that recording college credit on a high school transcript is a bit different than recording high school credit. Families who have a lot of college credit…


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit