What is a School Transcript?

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When you apply to college from high school, they will ask you for your high school transcripts. Whether you need to get these yourself or you need to authorize your school to send them, your high school transcripts are going to tell your preferred college a lot about you.

But just what is a school transcript? What do you need to know about it, and how can it help you with getting into the school you want? Well, we’re going to talk about what is listed on a high school transcript, just what it all means, and definitely why your choice of college is going to want that transcript before they decide if they’re going to accept you.

Why Do You Need a School Transcript?Why Do You Need a School Transcript?

Generally, you will need a transcript when you’re applying for a school. Now, most of the time, you would think of this when you’re applying for college during high school, but you may also need a college transcript if you’re planning on transferring from one school to another. You could also need school transcripts if you’re transferring schools at any lower level as well (such as elementary, middle, or high school).

Transcripts may also be necessary if you are applying for certain scholarships or programs, including programs and internships in high school or college. Your transcripts tell the people you’re applying to a whole lot about you and what you have to offer them. So you want to make sure you understand them before you go passing them on to anyone else.

There are actually a number of different reasons that you might need your transcripts, but we’ll look at a few of those more in-depth later. For now, let’s take a look at just what your transcripts are. Then we’ll dive into a little more information that you might want to know about your transcripts, how to get them, and what they’re good for.

What is School Transcript of Records For?

What is School Transcript of Records For?

Your school transcript meaning is all about you and what you’ve accomplished in a set period of time. Basically, it’s a record of your grades from the time you started school until that point in time (or at least the last marking period or semester).

This record is used to determine how well you do in school and how well you’re likely to do in the future. So, other schools and other programs will take a look at it to decide whether they want to extend an invitation to you for their program. If they think your grades put you as a good fit, they will likely offer you a spot. If not, they may decline.

Keep in mind that these programs will each have different requirements. So, you may be able to get into one college with a lower GPA or lower grades. Or you may be required to have stellar records to get into a specific program that is highly competitive. Your transcripts will help those programs decide more about you and how well you will fit in with what they have to offer.

What Does a School Transcript Contain?

What Does a School Transcript Contain?

Let’s take a step back and look at just what your school transcript actually contains. Well, the good news is that what’s in your school transcript is actually quite uniform. After all, before you pass it along to someone else or authorize your school to do so, you want to make sure that you know what they are going to find.

What that means is that any school transcript, for any person, will contain the same types of information. But you want to know more about the specifics of what you’re getting into and just what you’re sending along, so let’s take a look.

High School Transcript

Your high school transcript is likely the first one you’re going to need for anything unless you move or switch schools during your younger years. This transcript is one that will help you get into the college or university that you want and may also help you with getting into other programs as well.

  • Personal Information – The first thing that you’ll find on your high school transcript is your personal information. This is your name, your address and contact information (whatever is on file at the school), and your parent or guardian. Your GPA will generally be listed at the top of the page as well.
  • School Information – This is where you’re going to find information about your school, including the name, the location, and contact information and identifying information so that anyone else who looks at the report will know where you attend school.
  • Courses – You’ll next find information about the different courses that you’ve taken. There will be specific classes you have taken listed for your high school years, such as Algebra 1 or Woodshop. Each class will generally be listed down the page so that anyone who looks can see what you’ve taken.
  • Grades – Your grades for each of the classes you’ve taken will be listed next to the course. Typically, the grades will be broken down by semester or marking period (however, your school divides up the year) and will show how well you’ve done for each that has passed.
  • Additional Notes – Other notes can also be included in your school transcripts. This will generally be things like the total credits you’ve achieved, the grade level for your courses, and final grades. But it can also include notes about your performance in school or any problems that you have had.

College Transcript

When it comes to your college transcript, you’ll actually find that a lot of the information is the same. The layout may be slightly different, and you’ll typically get a more formal-looking document. Still, overall it’s going to give anyone looking the same type of information about you, just from a different school.

  • Personal Information – First up is your personal information like your name, address, phone number, and other contact information. This way, whoever is looking at the document knows that they have the right one.
  • School Information – Next, you’ll find all the information about your school, which will showcase the name of the school and their contact information. You will have separate transcripts for each school that you attend, so if you go to multiple colleges or universities, you will have multiple transcripts.
  • Courses – In college, your courses may be listed out in any order, such as alphabetical or by the period that you took the course. Either way, you’ll find that each of your classes is listed by identifying information (things like ENG 101 or PSYC 215) and by the name of the course (English or Intro to Psychology, for example).
  • Grades – Your final grade for each of the classes that you’ve taken will be listed here as well. This could include a letter grade or a simple pass/fail or credit/no credit, depending on how the course is done and what kind of success you had with it.
  • Additional Notes – Additional information may be added to your transcript as well. This could be any problems, courses that you opted out of, or notes like the fact that the copy has been issued to a student or has been sent directly to another institution.

When Do You Need a Transcript of Records?

When Do You Need a Transcript of Records?

So, are you not quite sure when you would need this type of transcript? Maybe you’ve never needed to get a copy before, so you don’t really know if it’s important at all. Well, there are several different situations that we’ve mentioned above, and these are only a few of the more specific situations where you could need a transcript.

  • Going to College – If you’re heading off to college, you’re going to need a copy of your transcripts to send to any college that you want to apply to. They will want to make sure that you’ve completed any required courses and that you have the right GPA to meet their minimum requirements (among other things).
  • Applying for Scholarships – If you’re applying for scholarships, you may need to send in a copy of your transcripts. Now, not all scholarships will require a copy of your transcripts, but some that have stricter requirements might.
  • Applying for Internships – If you’re in high school or in college and you want to apply to an internship, you may need a copy of your transcripts. This is different from applying to a regular job because this type of program will give you credit with your school as well as being paid (possibly).
  • Applying for Residency/Fellowship – If you’re in a medical program and you need to complete a residency or fellowship, you’ll also need to send in copies of your transcripts. These are used to determine whether you will be accepted into different programs or to help with placement in different facilities.
  • Transferring Colleges – If you’re transferring from one college or university to another, you’ll need to send copies of your transcripts. These programs want to make sure that you’re going to fit in at their school, and one way they do that is by making sure you meet certain educational requirements.
  • Applying for Honors Programs – If your school has an honors program, you may be required to submit copies of your academic transcripts in order to be accepted. You will need to prove that you meet the minimum requirements to be considered for the program.
  • Applying for Higher Learning – If you’re going to go on to a law school, medical school, master’s program, or any other type of higher learning, you will need copies of your transcripts. These technically fall under the classification of transferring colleges, but they may be entirely separate.

How to Get a Copy of a School Transcript?

How to Get a Copy of a School Transcript?

So, once you know what your transcripts are and why you would need them, how do you go about actually getting a copy of them? Well, this is actually the easy part because, in general, all you’re going to have to do is ask for them, and you’ll be able to get a copy.

Your high school can give you a copy of your transcripts that has a notation stating they were given to a student. Your college is generally able to do this as well, and all you have to do is ask a guidance counselor to get the copy. But keep in mind that this copy, with its notation, may not be the kind that your other school or program wants.

Scholarships will generally accept this type of transcript, and some additional programs that you want to attend may allow you to use this form. However, other situations or institutions may not because it is not considered as ‘secure’ of a transcript.

If you want an official copy of your transcripts that does not have the student notation on it, you will generally need to submit some type of application to the school you want a copy from. They will then send an official copy of your transcripts to the location that you request.

You are allowed to request a copy of the transcript sent (which will have the notation mentioned above), but you will not see the specific copy sent to the facility of your choosing. That makes it more secure, and they are more willing to accept the information that is provided on the document.

Talk with the organization that needs the transcript to find out which kind they need, and then talk with your school to find out what you need to do in order to get that version of the transcript. Depending on your school, there may be specific requirements in order to get official copies sent to anyone, or it might be as easy as just asking.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a School Transcript?

Your school transcripts are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to applying to just about anywhere (other than directly into the workforce) when you are finishing up in high school. So, make sure that you understand just how they work and what you need to do in order to get one, no matter what you might need it for.

And make sure you know which type of transcript you need for different situations or different types of programs. You don’t want to get the wrong one and have to start over again or get rejected for something because you had the wrong type of form.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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