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Diploma and Transcript: What Are the Key differences?

You’re applying for colleges and each one is asking you for the same thing...a copy of your high school transcripts. Can’t you just photocopy your diploma and send it off?

The answer here is no. Diplomas and transcripts differ greatly. One of these differences is the way in which they can be used.

For example, when applying for colleges. When you start applying for jobs some of them will ask for either of these documents. It all depends on the place of work.

To help you navigate through this confusing concept, here is a complete guide on what a diploma and transcript are, what’s included in them, how you can get a copy of them, and what you can do with them once you have a copy.

1. What is a Diploma? 

Your diploma is a certificate that shows that you have completed a specific area of study. It's a great thing to have a copy of if you want to show off your credentials in the office where you work.    

Many people hang their college degree or degrees on their walls. Not many do the same for their high school ones though. 

What Is on Your Diploma? 

Your diploma will include your full legal name, a seal or ribbon, your major and honors, and signatures. 

If you had a minor or concentration these are not usually listed on the diploma with your major. 

2. What is a Transcript?

When someone asks for a copy of your school records this is most likely what they are asking for. Not your diploma. Your transcript is a complete rundown of what you did when you were in school. 

What Does a Transcript Include? 

Your transcript will include the classes that you took while in school, the grades you made in those classes, the semester and times that you took your classes, how many credit hours you did, your major, minor, concentration, and your GPA. 

Keep in mind that on top of all the good stuff, your transcripts will also include the stuff that you don't want people to see. For example, if you withdraw from a class. 

Official Transcript vs. Unofficial 

When someone asks for a copy of your transcript they'll either be asking for an official or unofficial transcript. In some cases, either will work. There is a difference between the two. 

An unofficial transcript is one that you can download offline. It has a lot of the same information that your official transcript has. The difference is that your official transcript is the one that your school has on file and when it's sent out, it's packaged in a special envelope with the school's seal on it.  

3. Who Will Ask for a Copy of Your Transcript?

More places will ask for a copy of your transcript than your diploma. For the most part, colleges are the ones that ask for these. So if you're leaving high school to go get your bachelors or associates, the schools will ask for a copy of your transcripts. 

If you need to switch schools halfway through your academic career, the new school will ask for your transcripts for your current school. Some employers may ask for your transcripts when you start applying for jobs. 

4. Who Will Ask for a Copy of Your Diploma?

When colleges and universities ask for your school records they won't want a copy of your diploma. Some jobs will ask for and take your diploma as evidence that you've completed school though. 

You won't be asked for your diploma a lot. It serves a better use hanging in your office to show off your credentials. 

5. Is a Diploma Evidence that You Graduated School? 

Your diploma is decorative evidence that you completed school. Most colleges don't accept high school diplomas as evidence that you graduated because you can buy copies of diplomas online. They may take a copy of an associate degree.

Keep in mind that college administrators are trained to find flaws in fake or copied diplomas. To that end, they are trained to do the same with transcripts. It's harder to forge a transcript but it's not unheard of. 

For the most part, jobs will take these copies though. So if you lose your diploma and can't get a copy from your high school or college, you can buy a diploma to satisfy the employer asking for it.  

6. How to Get a Copy of Both? 

This is where your diploma and transcripts are the same. It's not hard to get a copy of either. All you've got to do is contact your school (or school district if your school doesn't exist anymore) and fill out some forms.

After you do that and pay a small fee your diploma or transcript will be on its way to you. The only difference here is that sometimes schools don't have the ability to give you a copy of your diploma but they will almost always give you a copy of your transcript. 

The Differences Between a Diploma and Transcript  

Have you been asked for your school records? Most of the time anyone who asks for this is talking about your transcripts rather than your diploma but there are some places that will take either of these documents. Learn the difference between a diploma and transcript so you know what information you need to provide. 

Do you want a copy of your college diploma to hang on your office wall? Check out our selection. 


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