Applying for college admissions and scholarships requires that transcripts be sent to evaluate the academic achievement of student applicants. Student grades are issued typically in the form of grade reports. Students and families may cumulatively save these reports but rarely do they see a full transcript. Recently, I reviewed clients’ transcripts and found errors that might have caused problems for my clients, if they had gone undetected. Fortunately, these errors were detected and corrected prior transcripts being issued to colleges for admissions.
In the first case, I was working with a 10th grader planning for college athletic eligibility and entrance exams. In reviewing the transcript, I noticed a grading system of A, B, C, D, F with no +/- grades. However, there was one B- on this student’s transcript. Even though the GPA calculation included the grade as a B and was accurate, the appearance of the B- could have negatively impacted the evaluation of the student’s academic credentials.
In the second case, I was working with an 11th grader. In a review of the student’s transcript, the semester grades didn’t average to the cumulative grade point average (GPA). The source of the error was a credit transferred from another school district. School policy does not allow grades from outside the district to enter into the GPA calculation. Unfortunately the system software had added the credit and averaged the grade as an F. Had this problem gone undetected, it could have hurt the student’s opportunities for admission and scholarships.
In a third case, I was working with an international student who was graduating from a U.S. high school. The U.S. school recorded on their transcript earlier grades that were earned in another country at a school that used a different grading system and curriculum. Those earlier grades should have been reported on the prior school’s official transcript, with information about that school, its grading scale, grade distribution, class rank, and policies. Without educational work being reported in its proper context, it is difficult for a college evaluator to understand the learning environment and the student’s achievement within it.
Transcripts may include information on grade point average, curriculum, course load and sequence, advanced study, achievement patterns, rank, gender, birthdate, and sometimes attendance and test results. There are many reasons for transcript errors. Elementary and secondary schools may not have an office or person who is responsible for the accuracy of academic records. Grade changes heighten opportunities for errors and do not always have formal processes that ensure accuracy. Changes in staff, technology, and policies can make transcripts more vulnerable to errors also.
How can schools and families reduce errors and ensure that transcripts that are ready and accurate for colleges and scholarship agencies?
- Encourage students and families to view full cumulative transcripts, not just grade reports.
- Schools should perform transcript checks to determine if systems and practices are being implemented and working as expected.
- Formalize grade changes. School officials should require specific, secure steps to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of grade changes.
- Make sure your school’s technology and reporting systems are secure and that interference from hackers is being prevented.
Your school may need your help to be sure that your transcript right and ready to go.