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College 101

The College-Prep Transcript
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

Have a look at your transcript. Don’t know where to find it? No problem. You won’t have to go all Bear Grylls and search for it in the wilderness. Take some time to Get to Know Your Counselor – bring them a Diet Fanta, some Jujubes, a foreign fashion magazine –  and they should be able to get you a copy.

Some schools use online methods to get transcripts, too. Your school portal won’t respond to bribery, so make sure you learn how to work the system. If you know the difference between a tangent and a cosine, you should be able to download your transcript.  If you don’t… well, we can help with both.

Transcripts might as well be written in cuneiform. They can be trickier to decipher than the Rosetta Stone, and every state and school district has a different system, with seemingly random values representing credits, and graduation requirements that vary more than Rihanna’s wardrobe changes.

But don’t despair, all solid college-application transcripts share core requirements in common. If your transcript doesn’t have any of the following, meet with your guidance counselor ASAP to ensure that you're scheduled for these classes before you attempt to strut across the stage in your cap and gown. Needless to say, the earlier you get this step done, the better.

Why should you bother with all this? Because colleges are like Santa Claus, and they’re going to be checking this list twice to make sure you meet all the requirements. Imagine getting a lump of coal instead of an acceptance letter from your top-choice school simply because you failed to meet the Useless Phys Ed requirement. And you thought Curling 101 would be a waste of your time. When the only job you can get is Zamboni driver at the skating rink, you’ll regret that decision.

Seven Things That Need To Be On Your Transcript

1. English. Doesn't matter if the coursework goes by Language Arts, English Comp, or Survey of Brit Lit...you just need four of 'em.

2. Math. Everyone's favorite subject.  While some schools require only two years of math, and others require you to suffer through Cal I your senior year, a solid college-app transcript will include Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.  If you're aiming for the Ivy League, man up and take Pre-Calculus or Cal I, because – trust us – that's what the competition is doing.:

3. Science. You need three full years, with two of those being lab courses.  The more cute, innocent, dead animals you’ve dissected, the better. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are the most common lab sciences, with bonus points if you also know the difference between sedimentary and igneous rock (Geology), can spot Orion and Andromeda on a clear night (Astronomy), and realize there’s a vast difference between the vas deferens and the urethra (Anatomy). In other words, non-lab sciences look good, too.

4. Social Studies. Three or four years of this subject should do the trick.  You'll need one year of U.S. History and one year of World History, and maybe even a semester of Economics or Government.

5. Foreign Language. ¿Hablas español?. Parlez-vous français? If you want to travel the world, you need to know how to ask “Will this pair of Levi's work as a bribe, or do you need more cigarettes?”  in various languages. Take at least two years of the same language, or go the distance and take four to really strengthen your transcript.

6. Computer Classes. Do you want to retire filthy freakin' rich at the age of 35? Do you want to be able to attend your twenty-year high school reunion with your head held high and your Ferrari in the parking lot? Then do yourself a favor, and take any computer class that's available to you.

7. Electives. Take a chance on a Pottery class. Not only will you learn something new that could potentially have a place in a college application essay, but women totally dig guys who look like Patrick Swayze and know their way around a piece of clay.  

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