Resources › For Students and Parents What Is a College Transcript? Share Flipboard Email Print Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images For Students and Parents College Life Academics Before You Arrive Health, Safety, and Nutrition Living On Campus Outside The Classroom Roommates Dating Graduation & Beyond Homework Help Private School Test Prep College Admissions Graduate School Business School Law School Distance Learning View More By Kelci Lynn Lucier Education Expert M.Ed., Higher Education Administration, Harvard University B.A., English and Comparative Literary Studies, Occidental College Kelci Lynn Lucier has worked in higher education for over a decade. She is the author of "College Stress Solutions" and features on many media outlets. our editorial process Kelci Lynn Lucier Updated September 24, 2018 In essence, your college transcript is your school's documentation of your academic performance. Your transcript will list your classes, grades, credit hours, major(s), minor(s), and other academic information, depending on what your institution decides is most important. It will also list the times you were taking classes (think "Spring 2014," not "Monday/Wednesday/Friday at 10:30 a.m.") as well as when you were awarded your degree(s). Some institutions might also list any major academic honors, like being awarded summa cum laude, on your transcript. Your transcript will also list academic information that you might not want to be listed (like a withdrawal) or that will be revised later (like an incomplete), so make sure your transcript is up to date and accurate before using it for any important purposes. Difference Between an Official and Unofficial Transcript When someone wants to see your transcript, they'll likely ask to see either an official or an unofficial copy. But what's the difference between the two? An unofficial copy is often a copy you can print out online. It lists most, if not all, of the same information as the official copy. In contrast, however, an official copy is one that is certified as accurate by your college or university. It often comes sealed in a special envelope, with some kind of college seal, and/or on institutional stationery. In essence, an official copy is a closed document so your school can assure the reader that he or she is looking at a formal, certified copy of your academic performance in school. Official copies are much harder to duplicate or alter than unofficial copies, which is why they are the type most often requested. Request a Copy of Your Transcript Your college registrar's office likely has a rather easy process for requesting (official or unofficial) copies of your transcript. First, check online; chances are you can submit your request online or at least find out what you'll need to do. And if you aren't sure or have questions, feel free to call the registrar's office. Providing copies of transcripts is a pretty standard procedure for them so it should be easy to submit your request. Because so many people need copies of their transcripts, however, be prepared for your request -- especially if it's for an official copy -- to take a little while. You'll also likely have to pay a small fee for official copies, so be prepared for that expense. You might be able to have your request rushed, but there will undoubtedly be a small delay regardless. Why You Might Need Your Transcript You might be surprised at how often you have to request copies of your transcript, both as a student and later as an alumnus. As a student, you might need copies if you're applying for scholarships, internships, academic awards, transfer applications, research opportunities, summer jobs, or even upper-division classes. You might also need to provide copies to places like your parents' health and car insurance companies to verify your status as a full-time or part-time student. After you graduate (or as you prepare for life after graduation), you'll likely need copies for graduate school applications, job applications, or even housing applications. Because you never know who is going to ask to see a copy of your college transcript, it's a good idea to keep a spare copy or two with you so you'll always have one available — proving, of course, that you learned more than just coursework during your time in school!