Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: It’s official

by Mr. Michael Wagner

For most students, the end of the calendar years aligns with the end of a school term. When a marking period ends for high school students, those grades become official. These scores are placed on a student’s record and in effect “owned” by the student forever. Term by term, the grades accumulate, becoming the student’s official transcript.

The official transcript

Once the scores are permanently recorded on a transcript, the grades become an official record of a student’s academic life. A student’s official transcript is what is sent by the student’s high school when students apply to colleges and universities during their senior year. Admissions representatives review a student’s transcript not only to assess the raw scores and grade point average (GPA), but also to understand the student’s academic life in a broader context.

sign saying you didnt come this far to only come this far

The trend line

One of the ways that university admission representatives review a transcript is to look at the student’s trend line. A trend line is an assessment of how a student has progressed academically from year to year. If a student has shown continual improvement from 9th to 10th to 11th grade, that is an upward trend, which indicates a student’s academic improvement. If a student’s grades trend downward year over year, that might be a cause for concern, or may indicate other issues are present and should be looked into further.

trend chart

The school profile

Another aspect of understanding a student’s academic success is reviewing what kinds of courses a student has taken and how those courses compare to courses at other high schools. For this, admissions representatives will also review the school’s profile. A school profile is an official school document, normally created by the college counselor in cooperation with academic leadership, which gives the details of the school’s academic program. Profiles vary from school to school, but commonly include an overall description of the school, the school’s history, graduation requirements, summary statistics of the most current graduating class, overall academic curriculum, any highlighted academic programming or supplemental school information, and a matriculation summary of the colleges and universities to which recent graduates have been accepted.

The school profile is used to assess the academic rigor available at the school and at what level the student studied. For example, one school might offer regular, honors, and AP level physics classes. The students who take the AP level at that school have studied at the highest level of academic rigor. While another school might only offer a regular and honors level. At that school, the honors level would be the highest level of academic rigor available. This helps admissions representatives better understand not only the type of school the student attended, but the level of academic rigor the student completed within that school.

graphing calculator and charts

As you can see, no matter if students are just completing their first term of their freshman year or if they are juniors looking to apply to colleges and universities next year, term grades are important. Understanding the importance of trend lines should motivate students to continually seek to improve, no matter what grades are already on their transcripts. Further, knowing that universities look at students’ grades within their school context should also help students understand what will give them the best opportunities to be accepted to, and to succeed at, colleges and universities around the world.

Next week we will look at the transcript review and its importance in academic advising.

Mr. Michael J. Wagner

Michael Wagner, MAED is a founder and the Knowledge Pilot for Launch Education.  Mr. Mike has assisted hundreds of students around the world on their college pathways.