What is a Transcript?

A transcript is a written record of a student’s academic performance and history at a specific institution. Transcripts are used for a variety of reasons, but they are most commonly requested admissions committees when students apply for advanced educational opportunities. A student can submit a transcript request to the registrar of his or her school to obtain a copy of his or her transcript.

The transcript must include the student’s name at the time of enrollment, as well as the dates of enrollment, all of the classes the student took, the grades he or she received, the degree awarded, and the student’s cumulative grade point average (GPA). Transcripts may also include information such as academic honors, class rank, and other notes that may be of interest to those reviewing the transcript.

When a student drops out of a class or receives an incomplete, the transcript will reflect this. If a student is placed on academic probation or is otherwise disciplined, his or her transcript records may reflect this. Transcripts may also contain notes indicating that the student applied for academic renewal in order to have poor grades removed from his or her record.

A transcript can get very long and involved in schools that provide narrative evaluations from instructors. The document is much shorter in schools where this is not an option. Some people argue that narrative evaluations provide a more complete picture of a student than a list of grades, while others argue that reading through narrative evaluations is time consuming, and that students may suffer as a result when admissions communities glance over these evaluations instead of taking the time to review them.

Official and unofficial transcripts are available to students. Unofficial transcripts are simply printouts of a student’s record that do not bear the school seal and are typically used for personal purposes. The registrar stamps official transcripts to indicate that they are complete, and they can also be delivered in sealed form. The transcripts are no longer valid if the seal is broken. Admissions committees and employers frequently request official transcripts so that students are not tempted to falsify their academic records.

Some schools may provide transcripts for free, but there may be a limit on how many free transcripts you can get in a lifetime. Others charge a small fee for creating and mailing the documents. Students should include their names at the time of attendance, dates of attendance, student identification numbers, the address to which the transcript should be mailed, and whether or not the transcript needs to be official when submitting a transcript request. The student must sign the request as well.