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How to Get Your High School Transcript

There are many reasons you might need a copy of your high school transcript. Maybe you’re applying for colleges, for a job, for a grant, or for scholarships. You might be looking into transferring high schools and want to transfer your credits over. Either way, having a copy of your high school transcript is important. 

It’s important to note the difference between “unofficial” and “official” high school transcripts. You probably already have an unofficial transcript on-hand or easily accessible on the internet. In some cases, these will be all you need. But in other situations, you may need an official copy. Let’s get into situations where you may need an official or unofficial transcript. After that, we’ll show you how to get an official copy or an unofficial copy of your transcript.

Also see: How many colleges should I apply to?

What is a high school transcript?

A high school transcript is a document that tells the reader the school you attend, the courses you’ve taken, the grades you’ve received, and your weighted and unweighted GPA. In some cases, it can also contain a disciplinary record and an attendance record. Your high school might also include your class rank and any academic honors you received. By looking at your transcript, the reader will be able to not only find out your GPA, but the rigor and focus of courses you took. Students with many honors or AP courses will stand out when someone views their transcript.

Also see: How many AP courses should I take in high school?

What is the difference between “official” and “unofficial” transcripts?

Official transcripts come directly from your high school and typically contain a seal or digital form of preventing any tampering. These are more trustworthy and typically required for more official purposes. However, they are harder to coordinate, and you’ll need to get in touch with your high school farther ahead of time to ensure they arrive on time,

Unofficial transcripts can often be generated through your online grade portal. They do not have the same turnaround period as official ones, so they are easier to obtain. However, they may not be acceptable for some purposes.

Also read: When should I apply to college?

Situations where you probably need an official transcript

Typically, colleges and scholarships require an official transcript. If you decide to apply at the last minute, they may accept an unofficial transcript as a placeholder before the official one arrives. However, you should try to avoid this situation and be as proactive as possible with official transcript requests. Grant requests and high school transfers typically also require official transcripts.

Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Situations where you can probably get away with an unofficial transcript

Although you’ll typically need an official transcript, there are a few situations where you can just submit an unofficial one. Oftentimes, high school internships and summer jobs will only require your GPA or an unofficial transcript. Some scholarships may also accept an unofficial one, or only require an official transcript upon awarding you the scholarship. That being said, always make sure to triple-check the requirements. Accidentally submitting an unofficial transcript would be a disappointing caveat to disqualify you from the running.

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How to get a copy of your transcript

In person

You can typically get a copy of your transcript at your guidance counselor’s office. If you only need an unofficial copy, you should be able to get a copy in a few minutes if your counselor is free. But if you need an official one, it may take a few days to seal and print or generate digitally in a secure form.

Through your school’s website

Oftentimes, your school will include the option to generate a transcript on its website. Some use portals that are native to their website while others have specific gradekeeping software that runs through their website. You can typically instantly generate unofficial transcripts and might even be able to make requests for an official one.

Via email

You can typically request official transcripts by emailing your guidance counselor. Make sure to include where you want the official transcript sent; typically, official transcripts need to go directly from the school to the recipient to ensure authenticity.

Via a third-party website

Some high schools have opted to outsource their transcript services to external websites. These sites, such as Parchment, allow you to request transcripts directly, though they are more likely to charge you a fee. Make sure to contact your guidance counselor to determine whether you need to access one of these websites.

Summing it up

  • The most reliable way to get a transcript is by emailing your high school’s guidance counselor or going into their office
  • Some high schools allow you to retrieve your transcript online, but this will typically be an unofficial transcript
  • Unofficial transcripts are typically instantly accessible but will not work for every purpose, including for college applications
  • Make sure to ask for official transcripts well before their due date to ensure that they make it in on time.

Frequently asked questions about how to get your high school transcript

Do I have to pay to get a copy of my transcript?

The answer to this question varies. You should never have to pay to get an unofficial copy of your transcript. However, to get an unofficial copy, you may have to pay a fee. This is especially common at high schools that have outsourced their transcript services to an external website. You may be able to apply for a fee waiver if your financial situation calls for it. Some schools will also give you an allotment of free transcripts and then charge you once you exceed it.

Can I send an unofficial copy of my transcript to colleges and scholarships?

Usually, colleges and scholarships won’t accept unofficial copies of your transcript. Because official transcripts can take some time to arrive, it’s important to ensure that you request them with plenty of time before the due date. That being said, some schools or scholarships might be able to use an unofficial transcript as a placeholder while they wait for your official copy. If you have no way to get your official transcript to them on time, it’s worth asking if you can go this route.

How expensive are copies of a high school transcript?

High school transcripts can vary in price, and oftentimes are free. When high schools charge for them, they usually cost between $5 and $10 per copy. Typically, if a school offers online transcripts, they are cheaper than transcripts on paper.

Also see: How to get a college application fee waiver

Who should I contact to get my high school transcript?

Your guidance counselor, or college counselor, typically is the right person to contact for your high school transcript. You can stop by in the office or try emailing them to get a copy of your transcript. But remember – contact them well in advance of any due date, because official transcripts typically take at least a few days to generate and send.

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