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I recently graduated from a Masters in Social Work from the University of Puerto Rico. I ordered 2 transcripts from them and they came to me in a normal plain white envelope together which I opened. I am used to my undergrad transcripts coming in individual sealed envelopes as that is what makes them 'official'. I'm wondering if I should try to order more transcripts from the university and ask them to send official ones. How often does a prospective employer in the Social Work field in the USA request an official transcript? Should I bother my university in Puerto Rico to send me new transcripts and have them sign the back of them and place them in individual envelopes? It appears to me that in Puerto Rico, having them sealed individually and being 'official' perhaps isn't necessary as it is sometimes in the mainland.

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    I've never personally had to provide an "official" transcript to anyone nor have I ever requested such from anyone... and I've been in the USA all my life. I can't see a reason anyone would even want that unless you were trying to attend or work at a school. Also, it's not the envelope that makes it official. It's the University seal and the signature. – NotMe Jan 9 '15 at 21:04
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    Official transcripts are transcripts sent directly from the school to the recipient. This prevents fake transcripts from being submitted. Sending them to yourself and opening them defeats the purpose. If one is requested, order it and have it sent to your employer. I personally, have yet to have an employer ask for any transcript (College Intern, US). – FreakyDan Jan 9 '15 at 21:08
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    Th only time when I had to provide official transcripts in a sealed envelope was when I applied to NYC's Teaching Fellows program. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jan 9 '15 at 21:23
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    @FreakyDan why not make that an answer instead of a comment? – thursdaysgeek Jan 9 '15 at 23:26
  • Depends on the profession, I'm sure, but in my case I've never shown transcripts to employers. – DA. Jan 21 '15 at 17:54
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Official transcripts are transcripts sent directly from the school to the recipient. This prevents fake transcripts from being submitted. Sending them to yourself and opening them defeats the purpose. If one is requested, order it and have it sent to your employer. I personally, have yet to have an employer ask for any transcript (College Intern, US).

Community Wiki marked answer from FreakyDan's comment.

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I have run across them in a couple of instances:

  • Applying for graduate school programs
  • Applying for internships. They aren't interested in students that have graduated or are about to graduate. They also may have requirements that you be a full time or half time student, or even that you receive credit for the internships (becasue it is unpaid).
  • Scholarships. Many have full time/half time requirements, number of credit requirements or required GPA levels. they may only be for Upperclassmen with a GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • proof that you are still enrolled so that student loans can be deferred.

There are two ways that official transcripts are handled: - Sent by the school directly to the employer/school. This can be via mail, electronic, or fax. Yes fax, most recently in 2014. - Sent in a sealed envelope to the student who then delivers it unopened to the employer.

Official transcripts have a cost.

I have also worked with organizations who handled transcripts in two phases. Unofficial to apply, and then official after they make an offer. The unofficial one is free and can be downloaded by the student via the university website. Only after they have decided who will get the position do they ask for the official one, because that has a cost. That means 100 people send in a free transcript and only a few have to send in the one that costs money. Poor college students like that option.

Once you get beyond that initial post-graduate hiring the request for any sort of transcript generally goes away, except for graduate school applications.

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