How to Calculate Credits Earned for High School

In high school, everyone takes a combination of classes that are required for graduation. Some students may take extra classes in one area if they're interested or if their guidance counselor feels it will help their chances of getting into the college of their choice. Knowing how many credits one has earned, especially before graduation, is necessary for those who want to make sure they'll have the appropriate amount of credits needed.

Why Calculate Credits?

Nearly all high schools require a certain amount of credits in order for students to reach academic standards, pass state and college readiness tests and go on to higher education. Because of this requirement, most students will find that their current high school schedule already meets or exceeds the number of credits that the state requires. However, some colleges may require more credits in one area than another, especially if you're planning on applying for a specific program. Therefore, students will want to calculate their credits as often as possible to be sure they're on the right track.

Requesting a Transcript

One way to examine how many credits you currently possess and how many more you'll need is by requesting a copy of your transcript. Transcripts are required for college admissions, and this piece of paper will list every course you've taken since the first quarter or semester of high school and how many credits you've accumulated per class. A transcript is an easy way to determine how many credits you have because it should have the total number listed at the bottom.

How to Calculate Your Credits

Calculating the number of credits you have is easy. Each course that you take in high school is worth a certain amount of credits. Credits are essentially like points, which you can add together to reach a target number. Depending on the state, classes are assigned either credits or units. Units are smaller than credits, and sometimes several credits will add up to one unit. Carnegie units, as they're also known as, are currently the standard in the United States, with one unit equaling one year of coursework. Of course, some states have exceptions, though most follow this rule.

In the state of New York, for example, students are required to have 22 units in order to graduate. The amount of units is broken up by subjects, so for instance, students would need 4 units for English, 2.5 units for P.E/Health, 1 unit for Art, 3 units for Math and so on. To calculate your units, simply add up the number of units you've received for each class.

Once you've figured out the total, it's necessary that you take a look at your state's requirements via the Education Commision of the States' website to determine whether or not you've reached the requirement or if you're at least on track to reach it. Keep in mind that the site was last updated in 2007, so if you want to be completely sure about how your school calculates units and how many you need to graduate, the guidance office or main office should have this information available.

What to Do If You Don't Have Enough Credits

Before you enter high school, you'll meet with a guidance counselor to discuss what your course schedule will look like for the next four years. It's your guidance counselor's responsibility to make sure your schedule is organized and planned out so you'll obtain all the credits you need by the time you graduate.

Unfortunately, there are sometimes circumstances in which students aren't able to meet the requirements, whether they changed schools often, were absent a lot or failed a class. If you've discovered that you won't have enough units to graduate high school, there are several solutions, the biggest one being summer school. At summer school, you can take classes over the summer break to make up for what you're missing and still be able to graduate on time.