Whether you need to return to college or plan to transfer, acquiring college transcripts is a necessity. Even if you were to receive your degree, attending additional schooling and some jobs will require a copy of your college transcripts.
Regardless of which scenario best fits your situation, ordering college transcripts is a relatively painless process. As your college transcripts are confidential, you'll need to know how to obtain them yourself.
College transcripts provide proof of a "permanent record" of your academic career. Schools you attend will keep a detailed record of all classes taken and credits earned. This information includes the dates you attended those universities and the total grade point average (GPA) accumulated.
This information is recorded and available upon request, which significantly helps when another school or job requires a copy.
You can request both official and unofficial college transcripts through various means. Understanding the difference between official and unofficial transcripts will help you determine which ones your situation may require.
Official vs Unofficial
Understanding the difference between official and unofficial college transcripts is very important. Unofficial transcripts are usually easily viewed on your college's website. You can also request transcripts from the school registrar if the website doesn't have them available.
The information on both an official and unofficial transcript is the same. The critical distinction between the two is the lack of an official seal or signature. Without an official notary, no accredited institution will accept them.
The main reason for unofficial transcripts is the ability to see where you are in your academics. You can determine prerequisites that are needed and share your GPA when applying to a new job or another college.
College transcripts featuring an official seal or signature are considered official transcripts. These transcripts are not sent to the student. The reason is to prevent potential forgery. Instead, official college transcripts are sent directly to the college, university, or employer who the student (or future employee) names.
How To Get College Transcripts
Students can request official transcripts in some ways, including in-person, by mail, or online. College transcripts are entirely confidential and can only be received by those parties named by the student. However, in-person requests may result in a sealed transcript package.
The order process will often carry a small fee and can take a few days to weeks before a named party will receive them. For this reason, it is best to plan ahead, especially if you have a looming deadline approaching.
Another thing to consider is the outstanding fees you may owe the institution through which the request is made. A college or university will not release your transcripts if your finances are not in good standing with them.
Before You Request A Transcript
If you have access to your institution's official website, you should check your unofficial transcript before ordering an official one. Doing so enables you to double-check for accuracy and if all information is present.
The information on your unofficial transcript will be present on your official college transcript. Suppose you order an official transcript with an error. In that case, correcting it could take a considerable amount of additional time and money.
You'll also want to ensure that all information on the transcript is up to date.
Look for the transcript request form on your institution's official website. If allowed, you can fill out the form online before printing. However, you will still need to print the document.
Make sure to specify which transcripts you are requesting. Some institutions will allow up to five official transcripts to be requested once.
Depending on the transcripts, you may need to provide additional documents. Ensure you complete all required documents and add them to your transcript package before submission.
Once the transcript package is complete, head to your school registrar's (records and enrollments) office to have it processed. Set aside the day for the request and expect to wait around to receive your transcripts, as it may be busy.
Official transcripts will cost a fee. The price will vary depending on your institution. Cash, credit, or debit payments are generally accepted.
Once processing is complete, you'll need a photo ID to retrieve your transcripts. You should receive a sealed packet with your transcripts inside. Breaking the seal will cause the transcripts to become unofficial, so ensure only the party which requests them opens the package.
Request By Mail
Locate and print out the transcript request form on your school's official website. Fill in all the necessary information and attach all additional documents that may be required.
If you are applying for multiple transcripts which require additional documents, make several photocopies of each document. Doing so should make it easier and ensure all transcripts receive the necessary documents.
The transcript request form should have the fee amount listed. Make a check out to your institution in the amount required. Place all documents, including the check, inside an envelope and mail them to the appropriate address. Ensure the institution's name and street address are spelled correctly before shipping the envelope. You can typically find the institution's physical address on the official website.
To request college transcripts, log in to your university website using your user ID and password. The request may also require your student ID. If you do not remember your login credentials, you may submit a request to have them changed. However, if you still cannot gain access, you may need to send your college transcript request by mail or submit the request in person.
College websites and where they keep their information online will vary from university to university. Typically, you'll want to look for enrollment and admissions to order official transcripts. The time it takes for transcript requests to process will also vary. Typically, a time of two to three business days is required. However, depending on when the request is received, it could take longer. Process times may see an increase closer to the end of a semester.
If your online transcript request form requires additional documents, upload them accordingly. As the request is online, the university may accept payments via a debit or credit card; in some cases, you may use PayPal.