Do Colleges look at report cards or transcripts?

Applying for colleges can sometimes lead to heart palpitations. High School graduates desirous of attending college are always eager to know what is required by colleges in the admission process. Some students are even enthusiastic to know the identification of the college admission officers. To these colleges, the admission process is a formal process that needs thoroughness, to some students, it is a discomforting process as they are eager to know their fate. Their curiosity heightens and their interest is piqued, thus the question emanates within the minds of some high school graduates: do colleges look at report cards or transcripts? 

Colleges look at transcripts, not report cards when considering a student for admission to their institution. This decision made by colleges is a result of what a transcript is and what a report card is. A high school report card, also known as a progress report, is the end-of-term report on a child’s performance in school. It shows the parent/ guardian of such a child the performance of that child in school for the term. School sessions are usually divided into 3 terms. The First term usually runs from September to December; the second term runs from January to March; the third term runs from April to June. Although most schools adopt the 2 term system of September to January and January to June.  Notwithstanding, at the end of each term, a report card is sent to the students’ homes. It has in detail the students’ performance for that specific term. Transcript on the other hand is an official document showing a composite of a student’s grades from his first year to his last year in school. It comprises all performances every semester and every year in a student’s high school days. Colleges pay attention to the transcripts because it contains every information about the student needed to be considered in granting the student admission into college. Still, most students are inquisitive to know what admission officers look for in transcripts, and if admission officers only focus on transcripts and nothing else in admitting students into their Colleges. Keep reading to find out the factors college admission officers consider in college admission! 

Do Colleges look at report cards or transcripts?

Most important factors in College Admission

The admission officers in every College consider two factors when weighing a student’s application to their Colleges. These factors are:

  • Determinant factors
  • Influencing factors 

The determinant factors comprise a student’s high school transcripts and standardized tests.

The influencing factors comprise college essays, recommendation letters, demonstrated interest, and a list of the student’s extracurricular activities. 

High School transcript

This official document containing the GPA of students in high school is a determining factor in the admission of a student into College. College Admissions officers are thorough when checking the high school transcript and they normally tend to adorn the garb of an inquisitor in doing so. This means that they ask themselves some pertinent questions as to the range of performance of the student from the student’s first year to his last years.

College Admission officers are not robots programmed to adhere to strict rules when going through a student’s transcripts. They employ the subjective test in doing so. This means that not only will they check the GPA to know a student’s final performance, but they also go through the entire document with the parents’ eye. This implies that they put into consideration the following:

  • The student’s general performance in class
  • The difficulty level of each class taken 
  • The rhythm flow  of the student’s grade
  • GPA of the student

The student’s general performance in the class will be a strong determinant in knowing how the student arrived at his final GPA. This helps the admission officer to understand if the student has a serious mindset and is fit for their institution or if such student is lackadaisical towards learning and improving themselves. 

The College admission officers also consider the difficulty of each class taken. This will help them to know if the students thrive in situations that are difficult for them, or if they recline into a shell when faced with such challenges. 

The rhythm flow of the student’s grade is simply the trend path the grades flow in. If he or she is a straight-A student or straight-B student and remains so, or there is either a rise or fall in grade. Every admission officer is curious to know why there is a decline in performance. It plays a key role. 

GPA stands for Grade Point Average. It is a way of measuring a student’s academic performance. The final GPA is a strong determining factor in the admission process.

Standardized tests

Admission officers check the scores of this test which are conducted to weigh, on the same scale, the abilities of students from different backgrounds applying to college. Standardized tests for students include the following:

  • TOEFL – Test Of English as a Foreign Language (for foreign students who speak other languages)
  • GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test (for admission into Business school)
  • MCAT – Medical College Admission Test (for admission into Medical school)
  • LSAT – Law School Admission Test (for admission into Law School)
  • SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test (for undergraduate admission)
  • GRE – Graduate Record Admission (for admission into graduate school)
  • American College Testing (for undergraduate admission) 

College Essays

Admission officers carefully read through all College essays of college applicants. Although it is generally assumed by most students that admission officers hardly consider College essays, these essays serve as a link to the thoughts of the students. 

Recommendation Letters 

College admission officers check the recommendation letters to know if a second opinion, usually someone of high social or academic standing, considers the applicant to be of good behavior and excellent character. 

Demonstrated interest

The College admission officers check what the applicant has done to know if he or she truly wants to attend college. The college doesn’t want to admit uninterested candidates so this plays a major role in influencing the decision of the College Admission officer. 

List of the Student’s extracurricular activities

Every College admission officer wants to know what the applicant engages in outside academic activities. They maintain the dictum of “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. This is not a determining factor when college admission officers consider application letters from students, but it is an influencing factor. 

In conclusion, the admission process for colleges is not simple and casual as assumed by most high school graduates. It is a thorough process where each admission officer needs to weigh every circumstance-defining factor of the applicants before either rejecting his or her application or accepting such application. Every single detail in the application process is weighed and put into consideration. That way, the best students are picked and the unlikely students rejected. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Grades do the colleges look at the most?

Final year grades. Admission officers tend to concentrate more on final year grades as opposed to junior year grades.

  1. Who should write a letter of recommendation for college?

Preferably, the high school teacher of a student. Although any individual of high social or academic standing can also be a perfect fit.