AU’s online transcript preview is convenient when you just need a copy for your own use. Also, some grant and scholarship providers now accept the PDF preview under the same rules that apply to submitting receipts for taxes (i.e., they will take your word for it, but reserve the right to request a hard copy at any time).
The only downside is that transcripts aren’t easy to decode without a legend, and AU has oddly chosen not to provide this information with the PDF. If you search for answers on the AU website, you will find this (not) useful bit of information: “The back of the official transcript is the legend which indicates the grading system, accreditation/ recognition, classification of students, etc.” That’s great, except that they haven’t duplicated the back of the page anywhere for students to download, or included it with the preview file. Since most of us now use the online preview to check our academic record, It’s likely few students have the information they need. Also, you should know that scholarship providers that accept electronic transcript previews may ask for the legend to be included. For NSERC applications, for example, the back of the transcript is on the list of required attachments.
Here is a summary of the information most students are missing:
Accreditation, Mandate, and Establishment: A good portion of the back-page notes detail AU’s accreditation in Canada and the US. It also details how and when AU was established, and what types of credentials it is able to grant. This information is of use to other institutions that might not be familiar with AU’s status.
Course Numbering: This information is more important than you think because AU’s course numbering system is non-standard. Once, bachelor’s degrees were 3-years in length and a 4-year degree was an honour’s degree. As the 4-year degree became the norm, most schools moved to a four level numbering system where 100 or 1000 is first year, 200 or 2000 is second year, 300 or 3000 is third year, and 400 or 4000 is fourth year. AU is one of a few still using a three year system and it also reserves the 100 levels for prep courses (usually 0-level at other schools). 200s, then, are first year, and 300 and 400 level courses cover the second, third, and fourth year, or “senior” courses in a rather nebulous way (in other words, some 300 level courses are very rigorous and as difficult as any fourth year course, while others are clearly junior courses intended for second year). This is not only confusing to students: it can wreak havoc with transfer credits because receiving schools might not properly assess the level of your AU courses. If someone needs some clarification on the numbering system, send a hard copy transcript to ensure they have the course numbering explanation and always ask questions if you think you weren’t given appropriate credit!
Legend: the information students need most ? translations for the letter codes that can appear other than course grades.
AD Audit If you audit a course (a choice you can make at the time of registration), your grade won’t count toward your GPA and you won’t get any academic credit. At some schools there are further limitations for those who audit courses.
AS Advanced standing For grad courses, when a student is exempt from a requirement
CH Challenge for credit Different schools have different opinions on challenge courses. Make sure to inquire first if you plan to transfer your AU courses!
IP Course is in progress This will show up as soon as you register in a course, even if the course hasn’t started yet, so don’t panic if you see it!
N, NCC, NCI Non-credit course, complete or incomplete
P Pass For courses with a pass/fail grade mode
R Repeated course AKA re-registration. As with auditing, some schools are more positive toward courses that are retaken than others. Inquire if you plan to transfer the course. Both attempts at the course will appear on your transcript.
TR Transfer credit No grade will appear for transferred courses
U Fail For courses with a pass/fail grade mode
W Withdrawal Early withdrawal
WF Withdrawal fail Late withdrawal ? this is not the same as an F as there is no academic penalty so It’s a bit of a misnomer. It’s always better to WF than to F.
* In all instances above, with the exception of a repeated course, the grade is not included in your GPA calculation.
The remainder of the information on the back of the transcript refers to the graduate and undergraduate grading schemes.
I have to question why AU would not provide this information online when each hard copy request costs the university money: until they get around to adding the legend and other important information to the online preview, I have to suggest that you order at least one hard copy to have this information on hand. Or, in a pinch, refer to this article!
Writer, editor, programmer, designer, and perpetual student from Calgary, Tamra is working (slowly) toward a second AU degree.