Saturday, May 07, 2005

Permanent Record

When I was in school, it was about the worst threat we could imagine: ‘It will go on your permanent record!’ The fact that none of us had ever SEEN our permanent records had nothing to do with it. The mere threat was enough to keep us (mostly) in line.

It has been years since I considered my permanent record. Sure, my college transcripts have been sent hither and yon, but that’s what happens with college transcripts. In the United States, though, after you enter college, all thoughts of high school transcripts are long gone.

But, I’m not in the United States anymore. In order to apply for the program to prepare me to apply for my British teaching qualification, I had to provide a high school transcript. Now, what would you do if you needed a high school transcript? I mean, I didn’t even know if I could still get one. Thanks to the wonders of email, though, I was able to request an official transcript sent to my school and an unofficial transcript sent to me. (My high school guidance counsellor’s exact words were, ‘your transcript hasn’t turned to dust yet, but it will soon.’)

When I got home from school today, an envelope stamped ‘UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT’ in bright red was sitting on the table waiting for me. The first page was a nice form letter inviting me to contact the school registrar if I had any further questions. (I didn’t even know my high school HAD a registrar, but evidently they do.)

Attached to the letter was a double-sided page (thrice stamped ‘UNOFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT’ in bright red ink) full of information. It may not be my entire permanent record, but it has quite a bit of information. First, it has my school pictures from my first three years of high school. My, I look young! Along the lower left side, there are four boxes for my ‘Activities and Interests.’ I certainly was involved in quite a bit during those four years: JCL, science club, Latin awards, Honor Court, volunteering at the public library and the local theatre, church choir, science fair awards, president of the youth group, senior play, academic letters in Latin, science and drama, a second letter in Latin, senior class historian… The rest of that side of the page is mainly results of standardized tests. There are my SAT scores, PSAT scores, and a few others that aren’t labelled. I really am curious what a couple of the tests were; I scored in the 99th percentile in several areas.

The other side of the page has my yearly grades. (Yeah, we’ll just quickly pass over most of this.) I was more than a bit surprised to see a final A- grade in PE my junior year. (Yeah, me…an A- in PE…must be a mistake.) It also seems that I took three AP (that’s Advanced Placement) classes my senior year: English, Government, and Physics. Now, I remember taking them, but I don’t remember that they were AP classes. I don’t think any of us took the AP tests…I know I didn’t…but that might explain why I didn’t have to take the first semester of college English.

There’s also a box where my credits are tallied. I had 28 credits rather than just the 24 required to graduate. (I never understood how some of those people managed to be allowed to leave school after 6th period every day.) My GPA and class rank are also there. In fact, those are given for the beginning of my junior year, the beginning of my senior year, the end of the first quarter of my senior year, and the final standings. Happily, my GPA steadily (but slowly) crept up each time. My class standing varied a bit, but not more than three places each time.

I suppose you could ask if I worked hard enough in high school (probably not) or you could ask if I could have done better (certainly), however I’m not sure that things would have changed much. I was admitted into my first choice university into my first choice major. I changed my major once (from one type of engineering to another) and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. I was admitted to graduate school (despite deciding to begin looking into applying to graduate school the week after the application deadline). I earned my master’s degree in education. I got a good job (okay, ‘good’ is debatable, but it was a job in my field, doing what I wanted to do, and I was able to support myself). I got a job teaching in England. Okay, maybe it’s not correct to say that things wouldn’t have changed much if I had done better in high school, but I’m not sure I would have wanted things to have changed much.


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