Understanding Your Transcript

student studyingYour transcript is a single page document kept by your high school that lists all of your high school classes, grades and credit values. This is the most important document from your high school career, and it gets sent by your high school to all colleges you apply to, so let’s spend some time understanding how you can make sure your transcript is accurate!
Class titles
You’ll need to check this because your parents won’t spot errors. Make sure each class is called the right thing. Sometimes there can be a clerical error at school and you took AP Lang but it lists AP Lit, or you took Advanced Journalism not Beginning Reporting. Check this because errors happen all the time and it is no one’s fault, but you do need to politely ask to have them fixed.
Class notations
Again, you’ll need to do this, not your parents because they won’t always know. Make sure your classes are properly titled as AP, IB, Honors or Advanced when they are in fact one of these. Once I took an Honors class that was listed on my transcript as regular, but because I caught the error two years later, no one in the college Registrar’s office would talk to us about it, so stay on top of your transcript!
Only you will know if your grades are listed correctly, so be sure to check them because accidental errors happen all the time. If you do find an error, you will need to go to the teacher and very politely show them the mistake, and then ask for their help in correcting it. These things are always oversights and are never done on purpose (like most mishaps in life!) so be sure to be very sweet and kind and patient as you work to get it fixed. But DO get the error on your transcript fixed because you don’t want an error going to all of your colleges.
Credit Values
I see this less frequently, but it can happen that if the class is worth .5 credits or 1.0 credits, over in the right-hand side margin there may be 0.00 going into the grade calculation, as in, you are not being given any credit for the class. Entering 0.00 value is what happens for a bad grade if you replace the grade (in many school districts) but 0.00 should not be happening for classes you actually took and finished and did well in, so check!
Repeated Classes
Whether you repeated a class in the summer or during the school year, most schools nowadays list both classes on the transcript and many even leave the old, bad grade and then just put 0.00 in the credit value for what is being calculated in your GPA. Follow your school’s specific policy for repeated classes, but be sure the new grade definitely is listed and is going into your GPA.
Missing or Added Classes
Check to be sure that none of your classes are missing (I do see this happen) and that no random classes have just been thrown into your transcript, such as classes you never actually took. These can happen and while they’re weird, they’re no one’s fault so, again, be very polite and patient as you get these little mixups fixed up.
Slightly related:
College Classes
If you took any college classes during high school these are usually not listed on your high school transcript but instead, you order a transcript from the college and then you send that into each college you apply to. See your counselor if you need help with this one, but most colleges have you order the transcripts online and if you apply to ten colleges then yes you need to send ten of the college class transcripts, one to each of them.
Middle School Classes
And finally middle school classes. If you took high school level classes in middle school and got A’s, then you can talk to your counselor about pulling these up onto your high school transcript. Examples include: Biology, Algebra 1 and 2, and Foreign Language 1 and 2. Note: if your high school weights GPA then these A’s from middle school will be unweighted A’s (because they’re not AP) and they will DROP your GPA, so beware. If your high school doesn’t weight GPA then these A’s will raise your GPA. If your high school weights class rank, then these unweighted A’s will DROP your class rank, so check your rank before pulling any of them up onto your transcript. If you are not in the top 10% of your high school class, then class rank doesn’t matter so much.
Understanding your transcript is important, but not impossible. Keep up on checking it and be speedy about correcting any errors, in case teachers move away and no one can vouch for you! Always remember that no one makes these oversights on purpose, so be super polite and patient as you work with everyone to get them fixed, hopefully much prior to the fall of Senior year. 🙂


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