As a former student like you, I understand the struggle of applying for college admission. Besides the SAT, you still need to write an essay, get your high school transcript, request a recommendation letter, and many more.
So where to begin? For starters, the key to a successful college admission is to start planning as early as possible.
Given that you are probably already done with your SATs, the next best thing to do is to start preparing to send out your high school transcript.
This might seem like an easy task, but some students face problems in their college admission because of their high school transcript.
Given colleges or universities have different application requirements and deadlines, you might need to start ordering or requesting your transcript a few weeks or months ahead.
Having said that, we created this guide that discusses why and how you should get your transcript.
If you are no longer a high school student or have not been in school for a while, this guide might also be helpful for you.
What is a high school transcript?
A high school transcript is a record of your academic progress and achievement throughout high school.
It contains every class and subject you took when you were in school. Along with that, it also contains your teacher’s assessment of your performance in each class and subject.
Every student who went and attended class in high school has a transcript. It does not matter how long you graduate or whether you move to a different school in your senior year, the school would always have a record of you and your performance.
According to the CollegeBoard, most of the transcript includes the following:
- Your name, address, and date of birth
- The name of your school
- The courses you’ve taken and when you took them
- Your grades for each grading period
- The weight of each grade (grades in higher-level courses like AP are often worth more than the same grade in a standard course)
- The number of credits you earned for each course
- Your cumulative GPA
- Your scores on AP Exams, the SAT, or other standardized tests
- Any academic honors you’ve received
Therefore, you should make sure that your transcript has all this information in order to avoid any problems in your college admission.
What is the purpose of a transcript?
A high school transcript is a requirement in almost all college applications.
With the help of your student transcript, the admission officers would be able to assess how strong you measure up among other student applicants.
Since college admission slots are often too competitive, admission officer looks at your academic record to determine whether you are fit to study in their school or not.
Along with your test scores and recommendation letter, your transcript is like a yardstick of your academic ability.
They measure up your academic performance throughout high school and compare with other students or applicants.
Most of the time, admission officers would first notice your
- GPA and class rank;
- mandatory courses;
- electives; or
- or if there are any notable trends with your grades.
For instance, if you used to have low grades in your first year but managed to up it by your senior year, admission officers would surely take note of that.
With that said, your transcript is also a timeline and a record of your academic progress.
Keep in mind that colleges would not only look at your GPA and test score, they would also evaluate your progress, extracurricular activity, and other achievements in high school.
Apart from college applications, transcripts are sometimes a requirement for an internship, scholarship, and jobs as well.
Official vs. Unofficial Transcript
There two kinds of high school transcripts: official and unofficial. Both often look identical, but with the former being more valuable than the other.
Official Transcript is printed on a special paper. It has a watermark, seal, and it is placed inside a stamped and sealed envelope.
Electronic transcripts can also be considered official if the direct sender and receiver are a school authority or has permission from the school authority.
This type of transcript is the one usually send to the college or university you applied to.
Unofficial transcripts are printed on plain paper and do not have the school’s seal.
Oftentimes, colleges and universities do not accept any transcript that has been in the hands of the student.
An electronic transcript that has been forwarded or opened electronically by the student is considered unofficial by other colleges.
How can you get a copy of your transcript?
Getting a copy of your transcript can vary from school to school.
Many high schools in the United States now offers an online service where you can request a copy of your transcript.
Some even have services where they would directly deliver your transcript to a university or college of your choice.
In order to further help you, we have listed some of the things you need to do.
- Contact the school directly
To obtain a transcript from a public or private school, you need to request your transcript from your school’s registrar directly. You can do this by calling them or just simply dropping by the admin or registrar’s office.
- Contact your school district
If you are no longer enrolled at a school or you just graduated, then chances are your student records are stored at the local school district office or county board of education.
- Contact the state’s Department of Education
If you have not been enrolled in that school for a long time or none of the options above works for you, then you may have to contact your state’s Department of Education to request your transcripts
With the help of the internet, requesting your transcript has never been easier.
To search for public school districts, click here
To search for nonpublic school districts, click here
You can find the contact details of your state department of education here
Since colleges and universities follow a strict deadline for college admission requirements, the only thing that you need to worry about now is requesting it and making sure your transcript is delivered on time.
Do you need to pay to get your transcript?
It depends on which school you attend to. Some would require you to pay while others do not charge you at all.
For instance, a public school like Thomas Jefferson High School does not require you to pay a fee and they would automatically send it within 48 hours.
Choate Rosemary Hall, on the other hand, requires $15 for each transcript requested. The official transcripts carry the signature of the Registrar and seal and are sent directly to institutions or places of employment.
So the best thing to do is to check your school’s website or just simply ask your school counselor.
Can a high school email a transcript?
Yes, but it is worth noting that other colleges and universities might still prefer snail mail.
Some colleges might even require high schools to send transcripts both electronically and through snail mail.
With that, it is best to do some research and visit the college’s website of your choice to check whether they accept electronic transcripts or not.
In addition, we also recommend you to ask your school counselor or registrar whether they usually send transcripts electronically or via mail.
Because even though the college you are applying to accepts electronic transcripts, your high school might still prefer snail mail over e-transcripts.
If you have attended multiple high schools, do you need multiple high school transcripts for your college admissions application?
If your current school already has your previous transcript from the other schools you attended, then they can just send it along with your current transcript.
In some cases, your current school might have already consolidated all of it into one transcript.
If that is not the case, then you will have to contact each high school you attend and request for your transcript to be sent to the college or university of your choice.
We highly suggest you to check with your counselor first before doing any of the above. He or she will know how your current school handles transcript requests.
Which colleges or universities can you forward your transcript electronically?
Most of the states have already implemented the e-transcript initiative a few years ago. This means that almost all colleges and universities now accept electronic transcripts.
However, this does not necessarily mean that you can directly send your transcript to a college or university through your personal email. College and universities still prefer it to be sent by your school counselor or other school officials.
If you really want to make the process a lot easier, then you can just use third-party services like Parchment, Naviance, and Common Application.
Rather than visiting your school registrar or asking your school counselor to send your transcript, you can just request it online using these websites.
Given the current pandemic situation, some schools highly suggest using this website instead.
All in all, the best advice that we could give you is to contact or ask your school counselor for help.
Since not all schools have the same policies or procedures when it comes to sending high school transcripts, the best thing to do is to check with your counselor as well as do some background research about the college you are planning to apply to.
This way, you would know the things you should do and you would be able to pass all the requirements within the deadline.
Hopefully, you managed to gain some insights from this guide.
To briefly recap, we answered some of the most frequently asked questions about high school transcript like
- What is a high school transcript?
- What is the purpose of a transcript?
- Official vs. Unofficial Transcript
- How can you get a copy of your transcript?
- Do you need to pay to get your transcript?
- Can a high school email a transcript?
- If you have attended multiple high schools, do you need multiple high school transcripts for your college admissions application?
- Which colleges or universities can you forward your transcript electronically?
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