Do you need a copy of your transcript in order to apply to college, find a job, or for your own personal use, but aren’t sure how to get one? This guide will explain why you need a high school transcript and how you can get yours, even if you are no longer a high school student.
What Is a High School Transcript? Why Do You Need One?
A high school transcript is a record of all your academic accomplishments in high school. It lists every class you took, when you took them, and the grades you received. Every student who attended high school has a transcript, and if you attended more than one high school, you will have a transcript from each school
You generally need a transcript for three reasons:
1. To apply to college: Most colleges require an official copy of your high school transcript when you apply.
2. To graduate or transfer high schools: High schools will look at your transcript in order to make sure you have met all your graduation requirements or to determine which classes you should enroll in if you transferred schools.
3. To apply for some jobs: When applying for a job, you may be required to submit your high school transcript so the employer can look at your grades or see if you have taken certain courses applicable to the job.
Do You Want an Official or Unofficial Copy of Your Transcript?
There are two versions of your high school transcript: official and unofficial. Both versions contain the same information and will look the same or nearly identical, but an official transcript often includes an official seal or tamper-proof marks or is enclosed in a sealed envelope. This ensures no information on the transcript is altered.
Most colleges want an official version of your high school transcript. Official versions are often sent directly by your high school, either through snail mail or as an e-mail. Your school may also give you an official version of your transcript inside a sealed envelope for you to send yourself. If they do, do not open this envelope, as it will make the transcript no longer official. If you just want a copy of your transcript for your own personal use, an unofficial version is fine.
When you request a copy of your high school transcript, make sure you know whether you are requesting an official or unofficial version. Ask someone at the office if you are not sure which version you are requesting. Most schools and employers who need an official version of your transcript will not accept an unofficial version in its place, and sending the wrong version could cause you to miss important deadlines.
Official transcripts often take longer to be delivered, sometimes up to a few weeks if being mailed, so make sure you request your transcript early enough that it will arrive before any application deadlines.
We also have a guide that explains in more detail all the information a high school transcript contains and why that information is important to colleges and employers.
Make sure you know whether you are requesting an official or unofficial version of your transcript
How to Get Your High School Transcript
How you obtain and send your high school transcript varies from school to school and also depends on whether or not you currently attend that school. Below are three situations; follow the guidelines of the one that best describes you to learn how to request and receive your high school transcript.
If You Are Currently Enrolled at the School:
If you currently attend the high school you'd like a transcript from, then you're in luck because that makes it pretty simple to get your transcript. First, stop by your guidance counselor's office and ask him or her how you can request a copy of your high school transcript. Your counselor will advise you on next steps which could include:
Picking up a copy in person from your school's office
If this is the case, stop by the office and tell them you'd like a copy of your transcript. You may need to bring an ID or know your student identification number in order to get your transcript. In general, unofficial versions of your transcript can be printed off very quickly, sometimes right then, but receiving or sending official versions may take a few days longer.
Requesting a copy online
If your school has this, there will often be a page on their website where you can request a transcript. It may allow you to print off an unofficial copy for yourself and/or request for an official copy to be sent on your behalf.
Using a third party site
Most high schools will give you a copy of your transcript directly if you are a current student, but there are some that outsource to a third party. Two common examples are Parchment and Need My Transcript. Both these sites are simple to use and can send copies of your transcript to colleges and employers for a fee.
If You Are No Longer Enrolled at the School:
This may be the case if you graduated or transferred high schools. Even if you no longer attend that school, you are still entitled to a copy of your transcript.
First, check the school’s website to see if they have information about obtaining your transcript. Transcript information is often found on alumni or student services pages, and it can provide information on how to request your transcript online or who to contact to get your transcript. You can also try calling the school's main office number and telling them you are trying to get a copy of your high school transcript; they will direct you to the right person.
If the above doesn't work, you can also try using a third party, such as Parchment and Need My Transcript. Both websites work with thousands of high schools to provide transcripts; however, there are fees and shipping costs involved with both sites, so contacting your former school first may save you money.
If Your High School Has Closed Down or You Can't Find Its Website or Contact Information:
If you attended a public high school, contact the district office for the district your school used to belong to. Search "school district [name of your high school] [state the high school was in]" to find your district's contact information. You can also search for your school district at the National Center for Education Statistics website. The district will still have student records for all the high schools that belonged to the district and should be able to get you a copy of your transcript and send official copies on your behalf.
If you can’t find your school’s district, the district no longer exists, or you went to a private high school, contact your state’s Department of Education. Department of Education contact information for each state can be found here.
If you attended a private high school, you can also search for its records and contact information on the National Center for Education Statistics page for private schools.
You can also try a third party site, such as Parchment or Need My Transcript, both of which are used by thousands of high schools. Be aware though, that if you do decide to get your transcript through one of these sites, both charge shipping and handling fees.
Third party sites can be very helpful for getting your transcript, but they do charge fees for their services.
Do You Need to Pay to Get Your Transcript?
It depends. Sometimes schools will charge you a small fee to cover the cost of creating and distributing your transcript. The amount charged and how it is charged varies by school. Some schools don't charge fees at all for transcript requests. Some schools charge a one-time fee, usually paid when you start your freshman year at the high school. This fee is included with other school fees (usually labeled “Transcript Fee” or something similar), and paying it once allows you to request unlimited transcripts and send unlimited transcripts (official or unofficial) to schools or other places forever, without paying.
Some schools provide unofficial copies of your transcript for free, but charge a fee for sending an official version of your transcript. At my high school, you could get an unofficial copy of your transcript for free as well as three official copies, but if you needed more than three official copies sent, then you had to pay $2 each time to cover the cost of shipping.
If you use a third party site to get your transcript, be aware that they charge shipping and handling fees for both official and unofficial copies of your transcript. These fees vary by company but are typically more than your school charges, so it’s best to try and get your transcript through your school first.
Want more information on high school transcripts? Read our guide to learn about the information they include and what colleges look for on them.
Are you wondering how to make your transcript more impressive to colleges and employers? Check out our guide on what a rigorous high school course load looks like.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.