What Counts as an Honors Credit?

Honors credits can help boost your student’s GPA. So, what counts as an honors credit? How do we go about deciding if the course is worth the honors weight or not?

Honors credits can help boost your student's GPA. So, what counts as an honors credit? How do we go about deciding if the course is worth the honors weight or not?




I’ve explained in a previous post what’s a high school credit. There’s a certain amount of material covered or time invested in the subject content. That’s a College Prep (or CP) credit.

The SC Grade scale is a weighted scale. Honors credit demonstrates depth beyond the CP level in rigor, complexity, challenges, and creativity. Honors credits can help boost your student’s GPA.

Terminology Matters

It is not necessary to do honors work. I personally did not want to work that hard and neither did my students. The doors of opportunity opened for my homeschool grads–without honors level work. So don’t feel like your student has to work toward honors credits.

But, if we are claiming the work is honors, we need to understand how the public school system understands the term. We are translating our student’s abilities and accomplishments into the terms that are commonly understood. So we have to be comparable to the public school’s meaning.

We can’t arbitrarily use the word “honors.” For example, you could call your moped a “motorcycle” if you want to. But, that isn’t what others think of as a motorcycle. You see? So the terminology matters.

What’s an Honors Credit?

Honors credit is about applying the learning and creating something new.  It’s about higher level thinking, processing and problem solving. It’s about group collaboration and student-initiated research.

Honors credit is not about doing every problem in the math book instead of just the evens or odds. It is not about the effort of trying really hard or doing the work earlier/in middle school. It’s not necessarily about which curriculum you use either.

If you’re going to count honors weight for any credit, you should be prepared to justify it. Some homeschool associations have specific policies that outline what they will approve as honors. Others will leave it to the parent to decide. Check with your association’s policies to find out more about designating honors.

If you enroll in a class that says it counts the course as “honors,” it’s still up to the parent to verify it’s really worth honors. Even a curriculum company may promote their product as “honors” level. These resources may not be using the correct meaning of the term. We have to be discerning for ourselves.

Above and Beyond College Prep

Your honors credit is above and beyond “College Prep” (or CP). The SC Department of Ed outlines three categories of development as the educational goal for CP in the Profile of a South Carolina Graduate.  I think we can agree that these are the same goals we have as homeschoolers: World Class Knowledge, World Class Skills and Life & Career Characteristics.

Honors credits demonstrate greater complexity and challenges, greater rigor and pacing, greater independence and responsibility. The Department of education has implemented a 40-page Honors Framework Guideline about what counts as honors. For our purposes, here are a few examples of what honors means:

  • Incorporating student-initiated research
  • Utilizing student collaboration opportunities
  • Participating in project-based learning
  • Demonstrating problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Expanding connections to world-class skills and character-building
  • Implementing creativity and innovation

The college admissions might not ever ask you to show your evidence for any of your credits. But, they might! You should be prepared to provide a syllabus and/or a synopsis just like any other teacher would provide. And an honors course should include an explanation of extra work that earned that evaluation.

In SC’s grade scale, honors boosts their overall GPA. Your student may be doing more and working harder. By all means, call it honors. They deserve that designation.

Remember the goal of transcript preparation. We want to create an accurate representation of your student’s abilities and accomplishments so the doors of opportunity will open. If honors level work is part of that goal, then be prepared to show what made it an honors credit.

Read more about GPA qualifications for SC State Scholarships
The cost of college tuition can seem very overwhelming. But, these SC State Scholarships and Grants help make the opportunity more affordable.


About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!