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A course description is the who, what, where, when, why and how of each homeschool course. Think about it: If you don't provide the details of the courses listed on your transcript, how is anyone reviewing your transcript supposed to know what you studied?
An effective course description will include the course title, credit value, a brief overview of the course, a complete list of any and all resources used by the instructor and/or student, and may include detailed information regarding key concepts covered. If the course being described was taught by someone other than a parent, be sure to include the instructor's name, title, credentials, and method of grading. If the course was offered through a homeschool co-operative or a private organization, you might consider adding information relative to the course provider, such as the organization's mission statement or website address. There's no need to rewrite what's already been written; use the description that drew your attention to the class when you registered to take it! Remember to include travels, field trips, museum visits, docent-lead tours, and annual events & competitions to highlight the uniqueness of your particular course work.
On average course descriptions are usually a paragraph in length, excluding a list of the resources used, and do not need to be written in complete sentences. So as opposed to stating: “In this class, the student will learn how to....,” the description may read: "Emphasis on logic, deductive reasoning and formal proofs." Descriptions should be written in present tense, regardless of whether the class has already been taken or has yet to be taken. If you choose to provide a list of key concepts covered, use the text book's Table of Contents as your guide.
Your course description should be followed by a list of resources and grading criteria. When listing resources be sure to include the title, author or editor, edition, publisher and ISBN # when referencing text books. However you determine your grades, include that in your description. It may be as simple as stating, "Grades are based on 25% tests, 25% writing, 25% discussion and 25% daily work" or it may require providing a rubric or table of grading criteria and percentages.
College Admission Counselors are used to seeing homeschool transcripts exceed 30 or 40 pages. While this is not unusual, it also does not mean that counselors will eschew a transcript that is a dozen pages in length. What's important isn't the length of the transcript, course descriptions and resume, but whether or not the sum of these materials paints an accurate picture of the applicant and why s/he would be a great fit for a particular school.
Lastly, just like all things homeschool-related, there is no one, right way to format, attach or include your course description information. Be flexible and creative and do what makes the most sense for you!
Here are a few samples of course descriptions: