Whether you're a new high school graduate or you have some college credits, you will need to send some transcripts when you apply to universities. Institutions require official transcripts, which must come directly from the school that issued the credits in the first place. So, how do you submit a transcript request and get your information in the right hands?

The answer depends on the school from which you came, the institution you want to attend and the type of application you complete. Be sure to understand the steps for submitting transcripts so you can apply with relative ease and meet all of your application deadlines.

What Are Official Transcripts?

When you apply to colleges, you cannot just make photocopies of the transcripts that you already have. Allowing such records would leave too much room for cheating. Instead, institutions need to see official transcripts.

These forms come from the submitting school, typically in sealed envelopes. Some systems allow authorized users to send official transcripts electronically instead. In either case, you will not be the person to submit the documents. Instead, official transcripts should come from your school's academic counselor.

How to Get High School Transcripts

If you have little to no college experience, colleges will want to see your high school transcript. This document shows which courses you took, your grades, your cumulative GPA and your graduation date. The guidance counselor at your high school should submit your form for you.

Most likely, you only need to send your high school transcript from your final school because it will have records from previously attended institutions. Be sure to see your guidance counselor to find out your school's unique procedures. If you have already graduated, you can still get your transcripts with a phone call to the school.

Send Your College Transcripts

When you send college transcripts, they must also be official copies. Universities often employ several people who oversee transcript requests. Contact your previous college's academic advising office to discover what the procedures are at the school.

Some schools allow you to send a few college transcripts for free. Other institutions charge a small fee for each record you have them send. You can typically pay these fees online when you order the documents.

Once you submit your transcript request, one college will send the documents directly to the other. You should not have any further involvement in the process.

Transcripts Through the Common App

The Common Application, or "Common App," allows you to apply to more than 800 colleges and universities with just one application. When you use the service, you must submit applications. Sometimes, you can complete this process through a service called Parchment.

In some cases, the colleges only need to see the transcripts from Common App. Other schools may need you to send official transcripts directly to the university as well.

Transcript Submitting Checklist

Sending transcripts can be tricky sometimes. When you're stressing out about getting into college, it can be easy to miss important details. Make sure to remember these things when you get ready to send your documents:

  • Give yourself enough time. It can take a few weeks for transcripts to get into the right hands.

  • Double check addresses. You don't want to miss your deadline because the transcript went to the wrong office.

  • When in doubt, call someone and ask. Admissions and guidance counselors deal with transcripts all the time and can help.

  • Never submit unofficial transcripts without written permission.

Sending transcripts is an important and sometimes difficult part of the college admissions process. Be sure that you know the procedures for your previous schools and the ones you want to attend. With this knowledge, you can send the right documents to the people who need to see them.

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About the Author

Mackenzie attended Texas Tech University, where she worked in the residence halls for three years. She also volunteered for school event committees and move-in welcome teams. These experiences fueled her passion for higher education and helping college students. Today, she uses her writing to help prospective college students find the right institutions for their needs. She writes for sites like The Best Schools, Nursing.org, Best Colleges, Nurse Journal, and PublicHealth.org.