Throughout the nation, public and private schools maintain transcripts, or academic records, of high school coursework. High school transcripts are required when applying to college and other educational institutions. College transcripts are used by potential employers and professional certification organizations to verify completion of a degree or coursework.

Courses Taken and Credits

Transcripts contain a listing of specific coursework taken, credits earned and the term in which a course was taken. Descriptions of coursework contained on transcripts vary widely among schools. Transcripts may contain brief descriptions of coursework. If you are requesting a transcript to demonstrate the content of a specific course, it is best to provide a syllabus as a separate document -- the transcript will not contain details about the course.

Grades and Units Earned

Transcripts also contain grades and units earned in each term. Because some high school students take advanced placement (AP) or honors courses prior to entering college, the grade point average on a transcript may be greater than 4.0 due to the "weighting" of those courses.

Class Rank and Standardized Scores

Some secondary schools provide class rank and standardized scores on student transcripts. Even if your high school provides Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and AP test scores on a transcript, double-check the college application requirements. Colleges may require separate reporting of SAT and AP test scores for verification purposes.

How Transcripts are Used

College admissions officers use high school transcripts to establish patterns of coursework and academic ability to help determine which students receive acceptance letters. If you had to repeat a course, explain why in your college application -- the transcript probably will not contain detail on the reason for retaking the class. Another use of transcripts is in the job application process. Potential employers may require transcripts prior to placement in a particular job classification or duty.