As a community college student, your activities generate a paper trail referred to as your academic record that must be managed by the college. Academic records include everything from the admission application package you submit to the record of your academic standing. These records are managed through a document retention policy specific to each document type created. Guidelines for document retention are published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRO). Student transcripts become part of your academic record in two ways: as part of the application process and as you matriculate through the college. Each of these transcript types is subject to a different document retention policy.
The student transcript is part of your permanent academic record for secondary and post-secondary education. It contains a listing of all the courses that you took, the grades that you received and your grade point average (GPA). It also records your dates of attendance. Every school you attend must maintain a transcript to reflect your academic performance at that institution. The privacy of your academic record is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
As part of the college application process, you submit transcripts from any high school or college that you attended. AACRO guidelines suggest that a community college should retain these transcripts for a minimum of one year after the term in which you applied if you do not enroll; otherwise, it should retain them for a minimum of five years after your graduation or last date of attendance. However, if the transcript will be difficult to replace, such as a transcript of an international student, the college may retain the document as a permanent part of your record. Your institutional transcript, the record of your academic performance at the college, becomes part of your permanent academic record and can never be destroyed.
Student transcripts are permanent because you must be able to request them regardless of your last date of attendance when you transfer to another institution or when official verification of your academic credentials is required to support a job application.
An official college transcript is the certified account of your academic record that must be signed by the Registrar. It is usually sent directly to a third party to support your application for admission to another college or a job. However, it can be sent to you in a sealed envelope for inclusion in your application, but the envelope must remain sealed. An unofficial transcript is the unsigned record of your academic history for your personal records.
While each college has its own procedure for requesting your transcript, this process is normally handled through the Registrar's Office. Your transcript request can usually be filled in two business days. However, if your records are stored in a non-electronic format such as microfiche, it may take a few days extra days to fill your request.