Cumulative Folders, Home Education Style!

I realized early in my son's eighth grade year that I would, one day, play the role of guidance counselor for my homeschooled high schooler.


I would be the liaison between school (us!) and college.

I was the keeper of all things official.

Yep, me, until the student was 18 (that is the topic of another intentional high school blog). No qualifications or degrees, "just" the mom who was overseeing the learning taking place in our home. If I didn't keep the records, no one would. The records I kept would influence my student's post secondary career (no pressure, right?)

From that day on I kept anything potentially important in what I called the cumulative folder. Little did I know how valuable this folder would be. In our son's senior year, when we were in the middle of applying to six colleges--some highly selective--the folder became a gold mine, one of those things you tell people you would grab if the house were aflame.

Having all the information we needed in one place saved me time. I am also pretty sure it saved my senior-year mom sanity!

No one I knew had kept a cumulative folder of high school records so this was new territory for me.

And, I was not a naturally-organized person.

To keep our student's cumulative documents (not the work associated with each school year- I kept those work samples in another binder) safe in one place, I purchased a 3 1/2 inch binder and some colored-tab separators to help keep paperwork organized. Armed with plastic protector sheets and a hole-punch, I sat down to begin compilation of the cumulative folder. I started by labeling tabs we needed and then added tabs along our journey. During the junior and senior year as we began contacting colleges, I added tabs for copies of completed applications (print the online application submitted, if possible, for future reference when submitting other applications), scholarship applications (again print a completed application or submitted essays for subsequent applications), acceptance letters, and financial aid notifications. Once our grads entered college, I continued to add tabs for medical records, grades and award notification,  and FAFSA and financial aid applications (past applications were helpful throughout the college years).

What tabs did we find helpful?

  • Activities
  • Awards
  • Certificates and Certifications
  • College Admissions Requirements
  • College Applications
  • College Major Requirements
  • Community Service/Volunteer Hours
  • Dual Enrollment Documents
  • Financial Aid Applications (printed summary pages, too)
  • Financial Aid Offers
  • Grades
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Medical Records
  • NCAA Eligibility
  • NCAA Home School Core Course Worksheets
  • Scholarship Applications
  • Scholarships Awarded
  • Test Scores
  • Transcripts
  • Work Experience
  • Writing Samples

These are tabs include all the tab titles we have used for four unique high schoolers (two grads who then completed Bachelor degrees, and two current high school young adults). Not all tabs were needed for each young adult. In fact, some of my high schoolers have little to no cumulative paperwork. 

Consider your young adult and his or her unique circumstances. Choose a method which complements both the learning, the accomplishments and the college and career goals. If you decide a cumulative folder would be helpful--aside from other paperwork required by your home education laws--these tab titles may be helpful. 

YOU can celebrate high school!


This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.