It's easy to get caught up in the graduate admissions process. Applicants to graduate school are often overwhelmed by the challenging parts of the process, like approaching faculty for recommendation letters and composing admissions essays. However, the little things, like transcripts, also matter in ensuring that your application is complete because no admissions committee will examine an incomplete application. In my experience as a professor and as Guide to this site, I've seen students with stellar credentials lose out on a slot to the graduate program of their choice because of a forgotten transcript or one that is lost in snail mail.
Your College Transcript
Your application is not complete until the institution receives your official transcript from your undergraduate institution. An official transcript is sent directly by your undergraduate college or university to the school(s) to which you’re applying and bears the college seal. If you attended more than one institution, you will need to request an official transcript from each institution you attended.
In examining your transcript, admissions committees will consider the following:
- Your overall GPA
- Quality of the undergraduate institution
- Your grades in your major subject area and particularly in the upper division courses and within the past two years
- Patterns of improvement if you did not have a strong start
Request Transcripts Early!
Request your transcripts from the registrar's office early because most offices take a few days or even a week (sometimes more!) to process your request. Also understand that if you wait until the end of the Fall semester to request transcripts they may be delayed as most offices close for the holidays (sometimes taking an extended break).
Save yourself grief: Request transcripts early. Also, include a copy of your unofficial transcript with your application and a note that the official transcript has been requested so that admissions committees have something to review until the official copy arrives.