employers that ask for high school transcripts from 30 years ago

by Ask a Manager on January 30, 2014

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A reader writes:

Why would an employer ask for a high school transcript from a person who been out of school for over 30 years and when the job does not have anything to do with what courses you had in high school?


{ 253 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

That’s crazy.


Jessica (tc) January 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm

I used to think so, too, but I get at least weekly calls from people who needs their transcripts and who graduated 30 or more years ago. (Okay, I still think it’s pretty crazy, even though it happens regularly.) I just had another one this morning from a company that does this for other companies, requesting the high school transcript of a student who graduated in 1980. The company being applied to gets a release from the former student and they send it to that company. That company calls and tries to get it from us without the release usually, but we require it for any third-party requests. My own current record is 1943: the gentleman called and requested that we send it to a particular place that he was going to be working at part time. The school used to be called something else and used to be affiliated with a religious organization, although now it is independent with no affiliation. We, of course, still keep all the records from when we were Religious Name and can send them or verify them if necessary.


Anonymous March 4, 2014 at 10:59 am

My husband needs to get his junior high school records (1970-1974). Where can we find these and how should we go about it? He attended Curtis Jr. High School in Sudbury, Mass.


some1 January 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Because someone lied about having a high school degree on their app and the employer found out after the fact?


anon in tejas January 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm


I’ve been in a court hearing where a witness had to admit that he lied on his resume, and didn’t have any of the degrees (college or even high school) that he purported to his employer. his employer was being sued for breach of contract, and it made them look extremely bad. not being caught with their pants down twice would be a reason to require this.


some1 January 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Yeah, I was accepted to college before my senior year ended. I did graduate, but my college never demanded proof that I did before I started. (Although maybe high schools notify colleges in that case, I don’t know. Mine probably would have because it was a smaller Catholic school with an over-involved guidance department.)


EAA January 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

The college knows. All schools have to send final transcripts at the end of the year. However there are students who start college after their junior year. So technically they wouldn’t have graduated high school. And then there are the athletes who head to college midway thru their senior years. Don’t know how they handle these.


ThursdaysGeek January 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm

With our Running Start program, there are students who start college in their junior year, and graduate with an Associates degree at the same time they graduate from high school. The college graduation ceremony is a week later than most of the high schools, but not all, and that’s just the ceremony. I suspect it would be possible to get the AA/AS and not get the high school diploma (or GED, for home schooled doing Running Start).


Contessa January 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I kind of love the idea of that program.


ThursdaysGeek January 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Me too, becauses the students aren’t paying for the college while still in high school. So a motivated and poverty-stricken student can get an AA for just the cost of the books, potentially raising them out of that poverty.


Anon January 30, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Yup – I got my AA when I was 17 :)

However I wish their was more support for books. We were so poor, I started selling off my stuff just to afford used/old versions of my books in high school.

No EAA May 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Anyone student graduating from an EAA school in Michigan probably would not be able to pass the GED. Very Disturbing !


Observer January 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Still stupid, to put it kindly.

Based on what I have seen, I would bet that a large percentage of people would not be able to do this.


some1 January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Would not be able to lie about finishing high school? Why?


Felicia January 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I think Observer meant would not be able to produce a high school transcript. It’s not something highschools routinely give out and i doubt they’d keep them that long from an age before computers. I could probably get one – graduate highschool about 6 years ago . But i’d have to actually go there , they’d be like “wait what?” and it’s not worth the effort. Also why should highschool even matter at that point? Even if you didn’t graduate, you’ve presumably got more than 2 decades of experience that the employer can judge you on, which would be much more relevant . Also at least here, you can get into college without having graduated highschool, you just need to pass entrance tests. And college would be easier to verify if they must, but only if it matters.


Callie January 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm

my high school doesn’t even exist anymore!


Seattle Writer Girl January 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm

My cousin was in the process of securing work as a Medical Assistant and because her high school did not turn over her transcripts (from 15 years ago) within the 3-day period the employer requested they WITHDREW HER JOB OFFER. She had already given notice at her previous job and was left unemployed for months.

Why do employers do this?


Jessica (tc) January 31, 2014 at 8:21 pm

I have no clue, but it sucks. The one I mention that I was called about yesterday for a 1980 transcript (near the top) turned out to be a bit of a problem. Whoever the registrar was back then didn’t actually put the grad dates on ANY of that year’s transcripts, and the guy’s employer is requiring the grade date. (I was all of six months old when he graduated, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.) I can verify he graduated in a number of ways from his permanent file, but that isn’t cutting it for them. Heck, I have all of his attendance records and his cum GPA/class rank (which they don’t write on those old transcripts if the student didn’t graduate) as well as verification of credits and points earned. But they won’t accept any of those, so now I have to wait for my boss to come in on Monday to sign a letter I’m writing to verify his graduation and hope that works. :(


AnotherAlison January 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Even if someone lied, if they had been doing similar work for 30 years with good outcomes, who cares? They only lie to get around job requirements that should not be requirements, that are there for screening.

(Of course, sometimes the requirements are not by the company, but are by the government instead.)


Joey January 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm

If it’s okay to lie about meeting the job requirements what’s the point in having them in the first place. At that point they’re not really requirements.

And why would it be okay to lie at all on the application. Makes it sort of pointless doesn’t it?


AnotherAlison January 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm

“At that point they’re not really requirements.”

THAT is my point. If I’m a diploma-less receptionist who has successfully greeted visitors, answered phones, done some data entry, etc., for 30 years, does it really matter if I got a diploma in 1980? If the applicant for a receptionist position lies about being able to be friendly run the phone system, that matters. Why is the diploma required to begin with?

The diploma is a proxy for a certain skill level, and there are other ways to show that.


AnotherAlison January 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

(FWIW, I work in the engineering field, and due to laws and regulations, I’m fully on board with verifying engineers’ college diplomas and licenses. If an engineer (or accountant, MD, JD) lied, they should be fired. Some positions, it is a legitimate requirement, others not so much.)


KellyK January 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

It’s not that lying is okay. It’s that asking people to go on an onerous scavenger hunt to verify that they really did graduate *30 years ago* is stupid and inconsiderate.


Anna January 30, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Most jobs that require a HS diploma are not ones a person would usually be applying to after working for 30 years. My current position required a BA but preferred an MA, however I wasn’t required to show them my transcripts when I applied. If it had required me to show transcripts for college that would have been annoying but manageable. If they had asked me to prove I graduated from HS, I wouldn’t have bothered applying.


College Career Counselor January 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Our HR director says that educational credentials are the single most common thing that applicants lie about. Regarding submitting a college transcript instead, that would probably be fine….unless the applicant didn’t attend college. So, the organization defaults to verifying the last educational institution attended. Even if it was 30 years ago. Because it’s easier to require everyone to follow the same protocol than to, you know, think.


Dan January 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I think a more accurate statement is “educational credentials are the single most common thing that WE CATCH applicants lying about.”

With so many companies verifying only the equivalent of “name rank and serial number” during a background check, who’s to say that my “managed team of 20″ was only really 10? And despite the fact I may have had technical supervision over a handful of employees, HR may very well look at an org chart and say, “Him? He was an individual contributor. He didn’t manage anybody.”


AdAgencyChick January 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Good point.


monologue January 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm

but if the applicant graduated 30 years ago, don’t they have relevant work experience? Who cares what they did 30 years ago. Even if they’re switching fields, surely their high school level knowledge can be verified by calling a reference at a past job.


kbeers0su January 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

best answer to a post. ever.


The IT Manager January 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Now that’s a true short answer to a short question.


CollegeAdmin January 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Best response ever, Alison.


thenoiseinspace January 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm

My thoughts exactly! New favorite!


periwinkle January 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I don’t know… it’s hard to top my old favorite.

“What?! Dear god, no.”



ChristineSW January 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

I still like ones that are answered with “Ack! Don’t do that!”


Editor January 30, 2014 at 11:13 pm

“Ack! Don’t do that!” should be one of Alison’s topic categories. It’s would be like an online Halloween party for HR groupies, with plenty of scary stuff.


TheExchequer January 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I feel like it’s part of an insidous culture among many employers in this economy that: “Candidates don’t have many options, so let’s find out as much as we can.”

I’ve been asked all kinds of things that have not a blessed thing to do with the job. It sucks, because you then have to decide: “Do I have an unknowably lower chance at getting this job because I refuse to provide this information that is really none of their business anyway?” or “Do I have to have an unknowably higher chance at getting this job badly enough to suck it up?”


JM in England January 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Short answer is that employers seem to think that they can do whatever they like in the current economy! If you won’t bow to their outrageous demands, there are plenty more that will……….


Arlo January 30, 2014 at 5:49 pm

And that, in a nutshell, is one the worst things about this society.


Nelle January 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

My favorite question I was asked while job searching was “Why did you choose to go to college in a different state than the one where you grew up?” I graduated from college 10 years ago.


Yup January 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I’d be so tempted to give a smart aleck answer. “In order to escape the chaos and destruction left in my wake.”


louise January 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I went to college in a different state and then stayed in that new state. Coming up on it being nearly half my life in the new place…but I’m shocked at how many people in this area live at home, or at least close enough to go home every weekend, while they go to college. It may be partly economical reasons, but there’s a pervasive culture where I am that both guys and girls will stay at home until they get married. Because of that, a screening question like “Why did you choose to go to college in a different state than the one where you grew up?” could show an interviewer that you’re not afraid of change, that you enjoy new opportunities, that you’re not terribly dependent on others, or any number of other things they may want to screen for. So, kind of a stupid question, but maybe not entirely.


Emily January 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Employers looking to extrapolate my current personal and/or professional qualities from a decision I made when I was 17 is not working with the best evidence at their disposal.


Tinker January 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I’ve been asked in interviews why I chose my career and college. The answers are “because Geordi LaForge” and “they set off dynamite for fun”. It seems to go over well…


Anna January 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm

This question would have been AWFUL for me. I graduated from HS on a military base in Spain.


Editor January 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Similarly, my oldest went to college in the region where she was born and spent her early years because she missed the climate and wanted to live in that region after college. We were transferred before she started high school.


Yup January 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Bonus points if you already provided the employer with a college transcript!


TheExchequer January 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Extra credit if the employer also asks for the name of your /elementary/ school and your GPA there. (I’ve had this happen multiple times. Sigh)


some1 January 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Yup, I had to list my grade school and GPA on my app for my current job, even though every position requires at least a h.s. degree or GED


The Cosmic Avenger January 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm

GRADE SCHOOL? I doubt I could find any grade reports from anything before undergrad. Even the school probably isn’t going to be still holding on to my records after more than 30 years!


annie January 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm

My grade school, like a lot of Catholic schools, is now closed, and most of my teachers were nuns who have since passed away. I don’t even know who would have the records, maybe the downtown Archdiocese office?


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

See my reply below. In many states, school records are required to be kept a certain number of years. I think here in Massachusetts, it’s 66.

In all likelihood, if your grade school was affiliated with a parish – and that parish is still going, they may have the records, or trusted a sister school with them. Or they would be able to tell you where they are.

I graduated from a Catholic grammar school in 1964. That school is closed and has been for 30+ years, but the order that ran the school likely has my transcripts in their archives. Considering it was only 50 years ago, if I ever need them, they’re supposed to provide them.


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Just did a Google search – if you went to school in Michigan – it’s 60 years.



Observer January 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

They might – or they might not – be able to provide those transcripts.

You are assuming that the filing system they used is such that they will be able to find them, that they didn’t get destroyed in some (not necessary news-making) event, that they are still usable and that your school actually made sure that all records got transferred. And, once they find them, you are assuming they will still be readable. Remember, the schools closed because of budget shortfalls. Maintaining old school records that “no one will ever want” is not going to be high on anyone’s budget priority in the kind of scenario.

And, if someone went to a school that was not part of a more established network, then a shut down almost certainly means records gone poof


Felicia January 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Even f they could provide you with those transcripts, it’s sooo not worth the effort. Just looked it up, and in Ontario they’re only required to keep those records for a year. They could keep it for more, but maybe i wouldn’t even have access.

Kerry January 31, 2014 at 2:27 am

Yeah, I was once asked for high school transcripts and when I called my high school I found out they had been destroyed five years after I graduated.

the gold digger January 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I went to ten different schools before graduating from high school. Four of them are overseas. That would be a ton of fun collecting that information.


Jennifer January 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Oh god. Part of my job involves having to force foreign students to send their high school transcripts. It is a nightmare. You would make me cry!


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Yeah, my aunt did that at the university level. The university had a really large foreign population and she said it was always a nightmare dealing with foreign transcripts and banks (in some countries).


Jessica (the celt) January 30, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I’m with you, Jennifer, and it’s one of the most frustrating parts of my job! Trying to get copies of the foreign high school transcripts (for certain countries, anyway) is ridiculously hard. One of my students said that her school requires her to go to all of the teachers separately and get a grade with a signature beside it along with the class they taught her in, because their transcripts/records are nothing like ours. (They have to create a transcript from scratch, basically, to fit the requirements of U.S. high schools and colleges/universities.) Her problem was that she’d been in our high school since 10th grade, so when she went home over the summer after her junior year, she was trying to track down her 9th-grade teachers and some no longer worked there. I kind of didn’t believe her until I had two other students from other areas tell me the same thing.

On the other hand, we do tell students and parents this before they ever come for their first class (that we need an official one and not just a faxed copy), and sometimes we’re still chasing them down in the late fall of their senior year. :-/


Tasha (Grad Student) January 30, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Sorry you have to deal with that! I hope this doesn’t become a thing, because I skipped the later years of elementary school and my school didn’t have letter grades in the first few. (Do most people even have a way to get their elementary school grades?)


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Some states have a requirement that your school records be kept for 66 years.

My father was a school principal in Massachusetts. In 1985, he had a request from a former student for his elementary school records – from 1930. The man was applying for a government job and he had to provide confirmation/backup of his resume.


Felicia January 30, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Where i’m from they’re only required to keep your school records a year after you graduate highschool, so i’d never be able to get them. I do have a copy of my high school diploma, so I can prove I graduated, by why should anyone care what I did in elementary school/


JMegan January 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Really, a year? That’s not very long at all – what about the people who take a year (or two, or five) off between high school and university? I guess you’d have to apply as a “mature student” or similar without a transcript, but that still seems like a ridiculously short time to keep a record like that.


Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Are you sure that’s not just for the school itself? I was able to go down to my school board’s Central Transcript Office (near STC, if you’re in the city I think you’re in) and get a copy of my secondary school transcript a few years after graduating. They had notices about the time it took to lookup old microfilm, so I’m pretty sure they have at least decades of records.


Tasha (Grad Student) January 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks! I attended in Alaska, and it looks like the state holds records from 1918 on for defunct schools; schools that are still open hold their own records. It’s a silly requirement nevertheless.


AnonAthon January 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Yikes, I sure don’t. I went to super tiny school that didn’t believe in traditional grading, so I had no letter grades prior to high school. This requirement is truly the weirdest unless the job has, like, massive security clearance requirements.


Intrigued January 30, 2014 at 7:34 pm

just tell them that you earned an alligator in spelling.

(Any Arrested Development fans?)


Alayne January 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Pretty sure it was a “Crocodile” in spelling. :)


MaryMary January 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Did your grade school calculate a GPA? Mine didn’t. Are you supposed to get your transcript or find old report cards and calculate it yourself?


some1 January 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Nope, I just guessed.


ThursdaysGeek January 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I had a lot of E’s (Excellent) and G’s (Good), and a few S’s (Satisfactory), but never an N (Needs Improvement). It shouldn’t be hard to figure out a GPA from that. :)


Bea W January 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

I got a lot of Ns. Apparently I really sucked at grades 1-3. We got letter grades starting in 4. With a more nuanced grading system based on the scores on your actual classwork and tests and not some cranky uptight witch’s subjective opinion of how personable I was, I appeared to suck less.


fposte January 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm

I didn’t even get letter grades until high school. My GPA would be “Ummm…”


sapphire January 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

So is there a secret code for calculating these somewhere? I can just see it:
“Plays well with others” = A.
“A good classroom citizen” = B.
“Neat and orderly” = C.
“Cries during naptime.” = D.
“Runs with scissors” = F.


Diet Coke Addict January 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Is this related to the phenomenon of asking for a “major” in high school or ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?

“Yes, as a mature Grade 2 student I made the decision to major in Paste-Eating rather than Paper Chain Construction and I feel it’s served me well, as did my minor in Recess Games.”


Kelly L. January 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I think I was majoring in Pencil-Gnawing back then.


The Clerk January 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I used to roll my eyes at that on paper applications, but I assumed it was just that they wanted to have one chart for all schools and would understand if not every box had an answer (I used to put N/A).

Then we started with online apps and they still asked. I am no longer so generous in my assumptions.


Kelly O January 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

That one kills me, every time.

Yes, in middle school I was very into New Kids on the Block, watching Anne of Green Gables movies, and doing my homework before I left school so I could have more time free for the aforementioned hobbies.

Now, in high school, I took AP classes and spent as much time as humanly possible in the journalism room, mainly because it got me out of pep rallies. And gym. And does “Jordan Catalano” count as a program of study?


OhNo January 31, 2014 at 11:16 am

I really hate that section of the online/printed applications. Even if you’re not talking about high school, the “major” section only applies a fraction of the time!

Yes, I received my Masters of Business Administration. My major? Uh… business… administration… was that not obvious?

A friend of mine has similar complaints when she’s listing her JD on non-law-related job applications. Although I like the way she lists it: BA, major: pre-law; JD, major: actual law.


AdAgencyChick January 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm

The things I am learning that employers have done by reading this thread are making my brain hurt.


Lindsay J January 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Yes, this seems to be standard on a lot of applications and I can’t imagine why.

Also my high school major or program of study. I always just put “general high school education” or “college prep” because I have no earthly idea as to what they’re actually looking for.


Anna January 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I think it’s actually more about formatting laziness than a real belief that you would have a high school major. The applications that ask for that usually have everything lumped in to one section starting with High School and moving down through Graduate School rather than have them broken out.


[anon] January 31, 2014 at 9:15 am

I had a half-dozen of those during a major job search 18 months ago. I graduated from high school in a year starting with “19″ and have had BA and MA degrees since then. Looking up the name, address, and phone number of my elementary school for the forms was only worth it so I could hit my application quota for the week to get my unemployment.


Gjest January 31, 2014 at 7:58 am

I was applying to a University to take some non-degree seeking courses. They wanted all transcripts, including HS. I sent my MSc and BS transcripts, and they still required me to send original HS transcripts, too. Stupid. I graduated over a decade ago. I did terrible in high school, too, but then worked my ass off in college to do well, so it sucked having someone see my HS transcripts.


Kay January 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

This happened to my mother several years ago. She is a twin and her high school apparently lost her records but has her sisters… She has a copy of her diploma she’s careful to never lose just in case she ever needs to prove she graduated. (Although it probably matters less now that she’s retired.)


Jessica (the celt) January 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm

I’ve been surprised how many students do not keep their diplomas. The school I work at does not keep copies of diplomas, only transcripts of grades, but I get calls at least once a month requesting a copy of a diploma. Mine’s locked in a waterproof, fire-proof safe along with an official copy of my birth certificate, an official copy of my wedding license, and my college diploma (among other things). I always figured that was the only one that was out there — except the tiny, laminated copy of it that we got during graduation rehearsal that fits in my wallet. It’s adorable, and my dad has one just like it from when he graduated from the same high school. :) It never occurred to me to think there might be a copy until I started working in my current office, received my first diploma copy request, and had to tell them that they received the one and only copy of it. (My high school does not keep copies of diplomas either, as I thought to ask after I got a few calls about it, so I was right to think it was the “original.”)


Prickly Pear January 31, 2014 at 12:12 am

With me, it wasn’t so much as “didn’t keep” as it was “lost in a house fire”. I only found out that my copy was the only copy when I applied for a job that wanted to see it a couple of months after the fire. (my boss ‘needed’ a copy- almost 13 years later, I still haven’t presented it. I graduated, I swear!)


Jessica (tc) January 31, 2014 at 12:35 am

I believe you! And I’m really sorry to hear about the house fire, as that must have been devastating (to lose so much in such a scary way, I mean, not about losing the diploma specifically). The most common excuse I hear is, “I gave it to my mom after I graduated, and now she can’t find it.” So far most businesses have been okay with the transcript, as long as it has a graduation date listed on it, but I don’t know what they’d do if they absolutely had to have one. What did your company say when you told them it had been lost in a fire?


Dulcinea January 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

The only thing I can think of is security-related background check? I feel like some of the gov jobs I have applied for in the past have asked about high school information even though I have a graduate degree… I don’t think they asked for an actual transcript, though!


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 12:47 pm

It probably depends on the level of background check, mine I believe only went back around 7 years, but it was one of the lower level investigations.


Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 12:52 pm

” security-related background check”

It’s still stupid. “Security” doesn’t magically mean everything is important, though lots of people try to use it that way.


fposte January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm

And I could stretch to imagine verification of high school as a security measure, but transcripts and GPA?


Natalie January 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Well, that elective I took on overthrowing capitalism could look a little suspicious…


Lindsay J January 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

My fiance’s always went back all the way through elementary school, and all addresses he had lived at ever.

Maybe they need to ask elementary school teachers whether he had ever had any unsavory interactions with foreign nationals, or communist tendencies, or any of the myriad ridiculous things they asked about during the process. You can never be too thorough, after all /s.


Joey January 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I know lots of govt jobs verify whatever education is required for the job. But I think they do it more because they don’t want to get embarrassed if some citizen pointed it out to a news crew or something. Its a ripe opportunity to jump on the govt corruption/waste/do a shitty job bandwagon.


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Even then, I don’t remember the background check really having much to do with my education. They mainly wanted to know about previous addresses and references.

You usually have to submit transcripts when applying for a government job, but again, usually just college, and I think even then mainly if the degree is how you are meeting one of the requirements for the job.


Chinook January 30, 2014 at 3:25 pm

When you are going for high security clearance (think major government secrets), schooling would be one way to verify that you existed in your current identity (I.e. You aren’t actually someone else). But, when that happens, there area lot of other questions you end up answering too.


Elizabeth West January 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I had to provide a high school transcript for an internship application with the city police department. However, I was in a university program at the time, so that may have been why. Also because it was law enforcement, and their background checks are insanely detailed–especially federal.

I was also thinking that this kind of information could open many employers up to age discrimination. It’s easy to extrapolate your age from the year you graduated high school.


Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Because someone in HR told them to and they do whatever they are told without going, huh this doesn’t quite seem right and HR is giving them guidelines for all positions ever?


Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Because someone is running on autopilot, making sure all the “boxes are checked” without putting any thought or common sense to their job.


Seal January 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Shouldn’t the question read “Why should an employer…” rather than “…employee”?

I’ve occasionally come across boiler plate applications in academia that require you to list all of your educational background including high school. When they ask for date of HS graduation, I’m tempted to put “before I got my BA and 2 Masters degrees”. Unfortunately the box on the application is never big enough.


Zahra January 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

And, usually, the field is restricted to accept numbers only or has a drop-down list.


clobbered January 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

They went to the same high school, and always suspected you were were getting better grades in Biology than them even though they were doing more homework, and this is finally their chance to prove it?


CollegeAdmin January 30, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Haha, love this!


Cassie January 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm

But back then, grades were frequently posted up in the classroom for all the students to see. This was the case even just 20 years ago. And most teachers didn’t even try to hide names or anything.


Jessica (the celt) January 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm

This might be based on the particular high school. I’ve heard from some people that their schools did it (usually bigger schools, but not always), but none of the schools around where I grew up did this (even back when my parents were in high school). I always wondered if that was because it was so small that it wasn’t as hard to get grade reports and/or homework to all the students quickly. I wonder if anyone has insight into this practice.


Lynne in AB January 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

A friend was telling me about a small town newspaper issue she saw from the 1930s in which the grades of the graduating high school class were actually published for all to see. With names attached. It blew my mind a little.


Lynne in AB January 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Though I suppose then you could use the newspaper archives as a backup if you couldn’t get a transcript from your school. :)


Jessica (tc) January 31, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Ha! That’s hilarious! :D


Banana January 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Man, I thought it was silly that a prospective employer asked for college transcripts 15 years later! This really takes the cake!


Becky B January 30, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I thought it was silly when a recruiter fired “And what was your college GPA?” at me in the midst of work history and career aspiration questions. I wish I’d asked why it mattered. I also did not say I couldn’t remember because it was more than a decade ago…


Ruffingit January 30, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Unless I was truly desperate, I think I’d skip even bothering with a job app that asked for a high school transcript. That is so colossally ridiculous that it would make me wonder what else was wrong with that workplace.


Elizabeth West January 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Best AAM answer ever.


Mike C. January 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Please tell me there’s a reader working for an employer who requires this sort of thing.

What is the reasoning for it internally? What do they get out of it?


Joey January 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I’m not defending the practice, but you get verification that you do indeed meet the job requirements. You’d be surprised how many people falsify education including high school diplomas.


EngineerGirl January 30, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Only if that requirement is a high school education. If you have a higher level degree it wipes out anything lower.


pgh_adventurer January 30, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Sure, it’s generally a good practice for employers to verify educational background. You can call the school and check that the candidate did indeed candidate. But caring what GRADES they got in intro to home economics circa 1982 is ridiculous.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm

So, we don’t require high school transcripts (which I’m still trying to process. That just boggles my mind), but we do require the submission of SAT/ACT scores, which is just as bad. We actively recruit same year college graduates with limited meaningful work experience.

Almost everyone in the hiring process (rightfully) thinks it’s bollocks with so many loaded problems, so we don’t place any weight on them in the actual process. The president of the (small to midsize) company, who has the final yay or nay on hires insists its a good/the best way to judge reasoning and aptitude, and remains deaf to our arguments about the inherent problems with the SAT.

When we do have applicants with more experience/education and they can’t find their scores, we tell them not to worry about it.

So yes, stupid practice, but we are unable to change it as of now.


Felicia January 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

What about candidates who went to highschool in countries like Canada where there are no SAT or ACT scores or equivalent?

Why does the think those scores would matter at all outside the ability to get into an American college or university.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Well, we haven’t actually had that problem yet, so I don’t know what we’d do. It’s a small company, and while we’ve had foreign applicants, they’ve taken the SAT internationally because they were planning to attend US colleges. Although we sometimes get truly stellar foreign applicants, we simply can’t afford to sponsor a person for an H1-B visa, and we’re very upfront about that, so I think a lot of people simply choose not to apply. The advantage of being a small company though, is that it’s easy to waive rules for special circumstances, so I imagine we’d make something work if they didn’t need a visa.

Like I said, we think it’s bollocks. But we have to ask applicants, because he will bring it up at some point.

This is the same president that used to send around e-mails stating that female employees need to be more formally dressed than males simply because they were female and once wore a pink shirt with electric purple pants, so his judgement is questionable at times.


Eric Brasure January 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm

That’s actually a pretty forward-looking fashion look.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Not in the finance industry.


Woodward January 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Haha! That made me laugh!


Bea W January 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm

What about people who never took those exams? Not every college path in the US requires them.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Again, I don’t think we’ve ever had that problem (though mentioning it could be preemptively discouraging people). I suppose they’d just have to tell the person in charge of recruiting that, and it’ll make an interesting story on interview day.


EngineerGirl January 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I had a horrid SAT because I had the stomach flu on the day of the test. I was too poor to take the test again.

And what about things like persistence, integrity? Your boss is only judging on half the data, which means he’ll only make good hires half the time.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm

These are exactly the things we try to tell him.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I in no way condone this practice.


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I once looked into opportunities at one of those fancy schmancy Big 3 management consulting firms (at the time, they were trying to get more diverse consultants and were looking outside campus recruiting) and they wanted to know my SAT score.


ex-recruiter January 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I never worked for a company that required high school transcripts for all candidates, but I did very rarely ask for them for certain candidates.

When I worked for a very large, Fortune 100 financial company, we did background checks for all candidates at offer stage, and all offers were contingent on clearing the background checks. We verified only the highest level of education obtained. So if the highest level of education the candidate completed was high school, that was what we needed. If they had an MBA, that’s all we checked.

We also had a requirement that candidates couldn’t be dishonest – so having a criminal conviction turn up on background check wasn’t an automatic bar to employment – as long as they disclosed it on the application when asked “do you have any criminal convictions?” Similarly, lying about the highest level of education obtained would be considered grounds for the offer to be pulled.

Most education checked went smoothly through various automatic systems. Sometimes we would get an odd result – the candidate said that they graduated, but the records said otherwise, or the background check company couldn’t find any records of the candidate at all, etc. In those cases we asked the candidates to assist by providing their own documentation if they had it or could obtain it. Diplomas, transcripts, whatever they could find. Sometimes candidates still had these things, other times if they were still local to their school they could go in person to get records.

So I could see how I could have asked a candidate for his/her high school transcripts, IF high school was the highest level of education completed, according to the application that the candidate filled out, and the background company was unable to verify graduation through normal channels.


Rachel - HR January 30, 2014 at 9:08 pm

If high school is the highest education the applicant has we have to get a diploma or transcript due to state regulations.


annie January 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I always wonder how it may color the employers perception of the person if you can determine that a person grew up in a certain neighborhood by the school they attended. In a lot of places, it would be easy to make a guess on race or income level of the candidate.

I once interviewed a college-aged prospective intern who grew up in the most violent and poverty stricken neighborhood in my city, which I could tell by her high school’s name on her resume – knowing that definitely made me more impressed that she had achieved so much in her first few years of college and was so polished and professional in the interview. Ultimately she was not selected, so my personal admiration did not give her an extra edge, but it definitely was a bias I acknowledged to myself I was having.


PhD Candidate January 30, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I have a friend whose dissertation looks at this – but how it affects college admissions


some1 January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I went to a private Catholic high school and still live in the same town. I’m old enough to leave it off resumes now, but when people ask where I went, they assume I grew up rich/privileged or that I’m stuck-up (neither are true).


Jess January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

This and your exact age could also be determined since not everybody always graduates from college 4 years after high school but nearly everyone graduates high school at the same time.


Joey January 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

If they’re asking before the offer yes. That would be dumb and unnecessary. But if they’re asking after the job offer (which is when they would typically ask) it really doesn’t matter at that point since birthdate is almost always required to do a background check and/or to do the actual hiring.


Decimus January 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I bet a lot of it is automated systems that are over-broad in intent and not properly set up. So you have a system that is set up to allow Joan, the high school student applying for an internship, to apply, and yet uses the same setup for Jose the plumber, who has a GED and technical degree, and Dr Wakeen, who is applying for VP of Research, and all of them need to enter in high school information because someone made the field mandatory.


Stryker January 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm

This is a week of amazing posts! First the one on salaries, now this perfect response. Bravo!


Brett January 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm

It helps check for red flags in background checks.

Your high school transcripts do not match up with admissions information on your college transcripts. You went to a foreign high school, but claim to have no naturalization documents. You high school location does not match up with your address history and the locations of your personal references. These can all be signs that something in your background is altered and needs further investigating.


Jess January 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Re: the last two points. People move. That seems like kind of a leap for a red flag and really, do employers need to know your address history? I can’t remember more than two addresses back!


Anon January 30, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Not that employers need to know all past addresses, but having lots of geographically varied addresses over a short period of time can prompt interviewers to question the candidate’s long-term plans. It’s one thing if they moved b/c their spouse was military, etc., but if the person is simply a wanderer at heart and has no plans of sticking around town for more than a few months, that would be problematic for a company searching for stability in a particular position.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

But your location in high school is totally dependent on parents/parental units/caregivers, and there for gives absolutely no insight whatsoever into their long-term plans.

Source: Military family. Personally, I am very much looking forward to living in the same city for 4+ years. You would not know that based on the states I moved through before I graduated college.


Anon January 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I was responding to the previous post regarding address history in general, not location(s) during high school.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

It’s still none of the employer’s business. If they can’t tell my career goals from my work history, I am seriously failing to communicate something on my resume.


Anon January 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

As I said: “Not that employers need to know all past addresses…”


the gold digger January 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Air Force brats represent.


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm

When I had my interview with my background investigator, he said the biggest issues he ran into were with military people, because they tend to have so many addresses and sometimes they forget a few.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I once had three “permanent” addresses in a single twelve month period. I suppose I might be able to figure out what the middle one was, but it would take some research.


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 4:05 pm

I had a similar situation, moved for a new job, had a problem with my rental and had to move to a place a friend had available, then got another rental on my own…and then moved back to the place I’d been before I got the job. All of that happened during a single year. And other than the temporary housing my friend had set up, I felt like I needed to put all of the addresses down on my background check.

Anonymous January 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm

“It helps check for red flags in background checks.”

Also, I suggest about asking people a whole bunch of fairly specific questions one day, and then ask them the same questions the next day, and see if the answers match. YOU CAN CATCH RED FLAGS LIKE THAT.

“because they tend to have so many addresses and sometimes they forget a few.”



AVP January 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

A company asking for an address history is a huge red flag in its own right, though.


AVP January 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

ETA- unless it’s for a formal security clearance or background check. Although many basic background check companies don’t ask for that either.


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

And yes, Jess, for some very stringent background checks, they need to know past addresses – also helps minimize chances they’ll confuse you for someone else.

Does the average employer need to know this outside of granting you security clearance or somerat? No, IMHO.


Brett January 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

“do employers need to know your address history? I can’t remember more than two addresses back!”

Not normally, but background checks are not a normal employment situation. For my background check, I had to supply my 20 year address history. I know of background checks that have gone back even farther than that for address history. That can be an enormous pain when those 20 years include all the places you lived during college.

The really hard part is that you are supposed to also provide someone who can verify your address!


BN January 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Not totally related, but recently I have been applying for public sector jobs that require a bachelor’s + work experience, but a “master’s in XXXX can serve as substitute for the degree and some work experience requirements.”

Always makes me laugh a little. Even if you get a bachelor’s/master’s concurrently, I am pretty sure at some point along the way you need to actually get the bachelor’s degree!


PhD Candidate January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I know someone who has a PhD but never got their undergraduate degree! It happens, but is very rare


Collarbone High January 30, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I work with someone who has an M.D. but not a bachelor’s. He joined the military during WWII, two years into his undergrad, and they sent him to medical school. That blew my mind.


Cath@VWXYNot? January 30, 2014 at 6:08 pm

In the UK (and probably other countries too), medicine is an undergraduate degree that you enter directly from high school


some1 January 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Even if you’re Jeff Winger.


Z January 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm



Christine January 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Maybe a Master’s would compensate for a bachelor’s in the wrong discipline? For example, they might ask for a BS in Finance or Accounting but would be willing to consider a candidate with a BS in Economics and an MBA?


Anon January 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

While it is *usually* true that a master’s is preceded by a bachelor’s, I have a family member currently working on a master’s degree although they never finished out their bachelor’s degree (which, incidentally, was in a totally different discipline than the master’s). A unique situation, but not unheard of.


BN January 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Both your situation and PhD Candidate’s situations are so interesting! Is it inappropriate to ask how this happened? I’m honestly just curious!


Anon January 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

In my family member’s case, real life interfered with finishing out the original B.S. degree (although it was only missing a few general credits unrelated to the degree field itself). Then came decades of work experience, followed by a desire to fulfill a long-held dream. While admittance to grad school without a bachelor’s degree required jumping through a number of additional hoops and being put on academic probation for the first year, it actually happened.

Due to the decades of time since leaving the bachelor’s program, completing that degree would no longer be as simple as taking the few remaining classes necessary at the time of leaving that program. It would have meant roughly 3 years of additional classes due to that university’s current graduation requirements, and the master’s program agreed those classes were irrelevant.


Anon January 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm

A family member has a DDS but never finished her BS due to failing her language requirement in her last semester. She was such an awesome candidate that the dental program didn’t care and let her start on time anyway.


Loose Seal February 2, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree and I’m working on my 2nd Master’s degree. Hasn’t been a problem for me. Weirdly though, I never had to take the GRE for either Master’s degree.


MaryMary January 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I once had someone ask me in an interview to talk about the extracurricular activities and leadership positions I held in high school. This wasn’t when I was interviewing for an internship or trying to find a job over summer vacation, I was at least five years out of college. Luckily, I had several examples to talk about, but I know some lovely people who didn’t come into their own until leaving high school. It was a weird question, but at least no one asked me for a high school transcript.


Dr Lemur January 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Would the answers here be any different if it were college transcripts 20 years after graduation? I know someone who was just asked for them as part of a job offer. Plus a drug test, background check, and a financial/investment check akin to a mortgage application (i.e. much more than a credit check). This was to work for a subsidiary of a large company that you’ve no doubt heard of, doing work that wouldn’t request interacting with sensitive information or customers at all.


Ask a Manager January 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm

My answer would remain the same.


Joey January 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

I’m not quite sure if you think its pointless to verify education requirements in general or just this particular method. Can you clarify?


NK January 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I wonder if it’s the difference between getting actual transcripts vs. a simple degree verification? The former is a little more involved process than the latter.


Dr Lemur January 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Actual certified transcripts.


Ask a Manager January 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm

I think it’s absurd and pointless to care about what someone did in college 20 years ago if they have a 20-year work track record to look at. The work track record is going to tell you way more than college transcripts will. I’m taking issue with the requirement itself, and especially going to this kind of length to enforce it (which I find insulting).


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm

This makes me think of George O’Leary, the coach who lied about his college record. He lost out on a job with Notre Dame after they found out about it, but it hasn’t killed his career by any means.


Dr Lemur January 30, 2014 at 5:06 pm

In the end my friend indeed decided that the requirements were ridiculous and invasive, and refused to go through with it.


Joey January 30, 2014 at 5:50 pm

I’m interested. Are you able to abide by that view when you hire now or do they object?


Ask a Manager January 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Yes! But then I’m pretty vigilant about screening organizations I work with for smarts, sanity, and low-BS.


Joey January 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Yeah, that would be great to do, but it would wreak havoc at a lot of companies. I’m saying that because education requirements frequently help determine an appropriate salary range.


TL January 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Salary would better be determined by the value a person brings to a company (and market rate).

The assumption is that more education makes a person more valuable, but it doesn’t always hold true.

Joey January 31, 2014 at 8:32 am

Sort of. The value of a person can be quite different than the value of the position. For example I’m hiring for an entry level analyst type role and I’ve got a project Manager type candidate with a pmp and black belt. Unfortunately I can’t justify payin him what he’s worth.

annie January 31, 2014 at 2:11 am

That’s the funniest part to me – okay, you can see I got an A in my Women in Film class and a B+ in my Intro to Poetry class and a B- in my History of the Middle Ages class… very unlikely any of those things are relevant to the job, and even more unlikely I remember the majority of what I learned in them over a decade later!


ex-recruiter January 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Having worked in HR for both small and large companies for 7 years now, I don’t believe that there is a lot of justification for doing credit checks, and the one company that required them when I first joined discontinued that practice soon after. (And that was a bank!) They found that too many excellent candidates couldn’t pass.

While I personally find drug screens to be invasive and irrelevant, they remain standard in many industries.

The companies that I have worked for that did background checks always just checked whatever was the highest level of education completed, and then only asked for transcripts if verification through normal channels didn’t work. I’ve never worked of a company that asked for transcripts for everybody as part of their SOP. Seems very strange and useless to me, unless it was a job teaching perhaps?


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Bigger accounting firms sometimes will do a credit check, not because they’re worried about employee suitability but there can be possible independence issues for auditors if their creditors also happen to be clients. Doesn’t keep people from getting the job, but they can’t work on those particular clients.


BKW January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

The really silly part is that a transcript isn’t proof of anything. Proof of graduation or degree comes from the institution directly and should be requested by the employer. (With the employer paying any associated fees!)

I once worked on a project that hired a large number of people and we received what looked like a transcript with an application from a major college (30000+ students). We had a policy of checking everything and called the college to find that they had never heard of this applicant. The college suddenly got very interested in who this was that we were asking about….


Dan January 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

In my last round of job searching, I applied to several fed jobs. My specialty is in a professional series where the degree is required. The fed hiring process is a bit byzantine, as the folks reviewing the applications are almost always at OPM in Washington, no matter what agency or location. You only “pass go” if you can convince an HR person that has no knowledge of your specialty that you are in fact qualified to do the job.

Part of the way they do it is by checking your degree title. Because there can be an almost infinite “or equivalent” list, they spell out the number and types of courses you must have taken in order to satisfy the degree requirement. For that, you must submit transcripts.

The nice thing is that for the purposes of the initial screen, unofficial web transcripts are sufficient, you only have to provide the official ones during the actual hiring process. The funny thing with my series is that the degree requirement is almost always for a MS or PhD. However, the required course list specifies calculus, which is typically taken at the undergraduate level.

Yes, I paid $30 to overnight transcripts from a University Extension program to prove I took calculus 15 years ago. Never mind that I finished my MS in 2012 and had 5 years of professional experience in a directly related field when I applied for the fed jobs in late 2013.


Lindsay J January 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I wonder if this is what tripped my fiance up a lot. We went to a “quirky” undergraduate school (faculty advisers were called “preceptors” and I took classes like “Arguments and Persuasion in the Arts and Humanities” instead of “Intro to College Writing” and “Exploring Your Digital Toolbox” instead of “Intro to Computers” and electives like “Music as Prosperity” and “Witches” and “The Power of Sports”.

Hard to line some of them up on a transcript without a syllabus review.


Gjest January 31, 2014 at 8:20 am

For those weirdly named classes, people have recommended to me that you write a more “normal” class title in parentheses, and if possible, provide the syllabus. Who the hell still has their syllabus from 10 years ago? There’s probably someone out there, but that’s got to be rare.


Gjest January 31, 2014 at 8:18 am

This aspect of federal hiring, in particular, makes me nuts. I am ineligible for one series (that a lot of jobs in my field are posted under) because I do not have 9 credits of botany. I can assure you that if any knowledge of botany is necessary for any of these job, it is certainly not 9 credits worth.


ThursdaysGeek January 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

As I’ve said before, I can get my college to send official transcripts, but if you call and ask them about my graduation, they’ll claim they never heard of me. Maybe they’ve fixed their procedures and finished computerizing their records, but it’s certainly been an issue in the past. Colleges mess up too.


MaryMary January 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I have a friend whose job is it to research and resolve background check disputes. She runs into a lot of people whose identities were stolen, name mistakes (thank god I have an uncommon last name), or incorrect criminal records (mostly things that should have been expunged or a felony conviction when someone actually plead down to a misdemeanor). It’s scary how many people have issues when they’ve done nothing wrong.


EAA January 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm

My college doesn’t know I exist at all. Went back for grad school (which I didn’t finish) and they messed up my SSN which seems to have resulted in my disappearing completely. If you look for my name you get the girl who was a freshman when I was a senior. Fortunately I have official transcripts if I need them.


Dan January 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I worked for a government contractor, and one of the things that was kept in the employee database was the high school attended. I’m sure this was for some bureaucratic government “security” reason, but I found it very bizarre because our government contracts required people to have a BS. The exception to that rule were some “subject matter expert” folks we had on staff, who were oddly retired government employees. (I say odd, because by the time they retired from the government, they had been there for 20+ years, so presumably the feds knew what they were up to.)


Piper January 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

On a similarly weird note, I once applied someone that required information (contact, dates, references) from every single job I ever had, including ones back in high school. What?! Some of those places don’t even exist anymore, and I guarantee the managers I had aren’t there anymore if the place still does exist. What is wrong with these employers?


MaryMary January 30, 2014 at 1:54 pm

I ran into that a couple times when I was job hunting last year. The applications specifically said ALL work experience. I’m sure my high school job working at an ice cream stand really helped them decide if I was a good candidate.


Diet Coke Addict January 30, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Oh my god, I once ran into an application like this. Starting with my first job at age 16 at a now-defunct ice cream parlour. I’m sorry, was that necessary to determine my candidacy for a position as a tutoring coordinator?


Laufey January 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I think if got something as ridiculous as that, I would be tempted to include every baby-sitting, lawn care, personal assistant, and tutoring job I ever had, just to make a point.


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

That is just ridiculous. Even the government doesn’t need people to list every single job ever…the only exception would be a younger person whose work history was all recent.

I suppose they might require something like that for a high level clearance, but not something they’d need for the vast majority of people.


Cath@VWXYNot? January 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

The only time I’ve ever encountered that was on my application for Canadian permanent residence (Green Card equivalent). Some of the places I’d worked didn’t exist, I couldn’t remember manager names for others… I ended up just putting a cover letter on the front explaining that I’d had a number of short-term / casual jobs during college and had no way of contacting those references.

I have a PhD and had already been working in Canada as a postdoctoral research fellow for three years, so they waived the “name and address of manager from your bartender job when you were 18″ requirement!


Waerloga January 31, 2014 at 1:17 am

Geeze who would think that there was an outbreak of common sense from our government!

Good to see another vancouverite

Take care



Cath@VWXYNot? January 31, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I know, right?!

This was in, let’s see, 2005(ish). Judging by what I hear from friends and colleagues going through the process now, it’s even more bureaucratic than it used to be…


lorne January 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

My son went to a private high school that closed for financial reasons at the end of his junior year. Instead of trying to find a high school to finish, he went to college early admission, graduated with a double-major, has his masters and is working on his PhD. Somehow, I don’t think not being able to produce a high school diploma will cause a problem for him.


De Minimis January 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I had a similar situation, my high school closed about 12 years after I graduated…allegedly all the school records are maintained by an alumni organization, so I could obtain my transcript in the unlikely event I ever needed it, nearly a quarter of a century after I graduated.


adiposehysteria January 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I think if I ever got asked for this I would run as far away from this company as possible. First of all, when I went abroad my senior year, my high school flat out refused to give me my paper diploma when I came back. Ended up my younger sister, who was a freshman, kept using my name when she was signing in when tardy in the mornings. As a result, there are a ton of tardies and resulting detention and suspensions on my record, even though I had more than enough proof that I wasn’t even in the country at the time. This gave me issues when I applied for college and law school, especially when the high school would be contacted by the schools I was applying for and was told I was a drop-out. (Once again my sister, not me.)

Before you start thinking this was a large school where such a mix-up could happen – it was a school with 450 students. I had less than 100 in my graduating class, was the only exchange student that year and was the only girl to go to a four-year school.

Any employer that thinks this high school transcripts are evidence of anything is not someone who you should be working for.


AnotherAlison January 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Kind of a sad semi-related story, but when my now-high school age son was in preschool, the cook was fired because she did not have a high school diploma. She was 60-something, had been there several years, did her job well, and the kids all loved her. It was/became law that all employees of daycares in our state had to have diplomas. Maybe makes sense for the teachers, but the cook? or janitor? Common sense does not always prevail.


Grace January 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Wow. What a mean thing to do to a senior citizen.


Milos January 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm


You don’t want to work there…if you can afford such luxury of course. That is a place where no one has thought about the hiring process in decades and have simply continued to follow a long-term incompetence and didn’t keep up with times and world as it evolved around them.


Heather January 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Alison rocks :)


Bryant January 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I was an AmeriCorps volunteer and part of the requirement was to have a high school diploma or be actively engaged in getting a GED. I did this after graduating from college which the organization already had a copy of my college transcripts but they needed a copy of my high school diploma to satisfy the AmeriCorps requirement. this was 7 years ago so things may have changed since then then but i still felt it was a little over the top.


Lily in NYC January 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm

My elitist jerk of an ex-boss did this when he couldn’t decide between candidates. He tended to only hire out of the Ivy League, so it was even more ridiculous because c’mon – how many Ivy League grads didn’t do well in HS? My coworkers and I were gleeful when it came back to bite him on the butt – one guy was so offended to be asked after he had already come in for a gauntlet of interviews (3 times I think) that he took himself out of consideration for the job, complained to our HR recruiter, who then told the president, who ripped ex-boss a new one.


Grace January 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm



CCD January 30, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There are logical reasons, I don’t know if they fit this situation, but…

My position has me hiring many individuals who are required to pass a certification that is not commonly held outside of the industry, but is not entry level either. The certifying body requires proof of high school graduation, so we ask for either transcripts or diploma. If they have a higher education degree, we can accept that as well.


CCD January 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Also, in most cases, we give them a year after hire to pass the certification… and would rather not invest a year just to find out they don’t qualify on a technicality.


anonintheUK January 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

A friend of mine who was also a ‘trailing child ‘(expat parents) had great difficulty in applying to a particular job in the UK. She had a British degree from a British university. She had an International Baccalaurate diploma from an international school, which the employer’s software recognised, presumably because some British schools do offer it. However, she had no GCSEs (which are exams taken at the age of 15/16 in England and Wales), because she had been at an international school which did not offer them. So no, she could not prove that she had English and Maths GCSE at grade C or above, which is what the application wanted.

I think it was eventually resolved, but she was at the point of wondering whether it would be easiest to contact her nearest exam centre and just sit the blasted things.


Ann O'Nemity January 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

I’ve never seen a job ad ask for high school *transcripts.* Honestly, I’d probably avoid applying to a place that required this. It seems ridiculous. And despite my awesome GPA throughout college and grad school, I was a horrible high school student.


AnotherAlison January 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Lol. I, on the other hand, would love to still be able to provide high school transcripts and accomplishments. I was perfect on paper back then. Sigh. Anyone reviewing my life would see I peaked at 21.


Lindsay J January 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

+1. At 18 I had a 3.99 GPA, was a national merit scholar, and had a 1440 on my SATs (perfect 800 verbal score).

A day away from 28 and I’m working for a little over minimum wage.


VintageLydia January 30, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Happy early birthday :)

I know that feel.


Sharm January 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Oh girl, me too. Sigh. College was really hard for me, and after having been such a stellar student/well-adjusted kid in high school, it was a bummer to falter so much. I have a narrative around it, and my early 20s were great, but college itself for me was not the joyous place everyone said it would be. I have a feeling it was overhyped to me, if that’s even possible.

But anyway, I peaked at 17, so I feel ya.


Gallerina January 30, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Me too! Only hit my stride and started getting top grades when I got to university. My terrible high school record looks like it will be haunting me for the rest of my life…


gd January 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm

I fear that I haven’t reached my potential. Then I worry that I have.


shawn January 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Although this response is most likely true and reasonable, not always. I previously worked in a job where our contracts with customers (usually government agencies) included minimum qualifications and criteria for our staff. Think things like specific licenses, certifications, and education. Our company was routinely audited by these agencies for compliance with the contracts.

Yes, we would get dinged if we didn’t have college or high school transcripts or a copy of the diploma if that employee’s position required it as per the contract. Basically, we had to be able to prove we were in compliance at all times. Too many dings or repeated dings and an agency might terminate the contract, which would be a big deal and negatively affect the business.

I explained this to everyone I had to request high school info from, but it doesn’t change the fact that I had to do it.


BGirl81 January 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Oh Lord have mercy. High School transcripts now?! When I was looking, I was contacted by a recruiter for an admin position where they were looking for someone with at least 4 years of experience (I have 8+) and they had to know your college GPA, because the employer had a minimum requirement.

Well, I graduated a decade ago (now I’m depressed…) and didn’t know the exact number off the top of my head. I told them it was definitely more than the minimum, but, oh no, they needed the exact number! In order to get my GPA, I’d have had to order transcripts from my school and I believe it would have been around $75. Not a huge deal, but if the employer was so adamant about it, why the heck couldn’t they check it as part of a background check process? PASS.


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I might add — there are OTHER reasons for retaining these records.

As I said – I went to a Catholic boys school. The religious order that ran it was under investigation, and even of late, there have been some cases settled, for allegations going back to the late 1940s-early 1950s. One was reportedly settled in 2012 for something that allegedly happened in the 1940s.

I learned – although I was never a victim, nor did I know anything about a certain incident, I might have been called upon to testify for an event that was alleged to have happened there in 1960. I told the lawyers for both sides I knew nothing about what reportedly had happened (and that is the truth). But if I were served – my records would have been subpeonaed as prima facie documentation that I was a student there in 1960.

And as I said – I am now in my 60s but if I were to apply today for a job requiring a security clearance, and that would not be unusual — records may have to be pulled to ensure I did not assume the identity of someone else. They CAN and would go back to September, 1957, when I began grade 1.

Not all of us are from Generation X or Generation Y. Some of us have academic records going back to the 1950s and we might need them. It’s not as stupid as it sounds.


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 5:31 pm

PS I was wrong about Massachusetts having a 66 year retention cycle on student records. It’s “Permanent” – meaning, essentially, forever.


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 6:20 pm

My college friend had to provide an actual physical copy of her diploma. For reasons no one understands, our alma mater gives us these giant-ass diplomas. They’re like 2′ by 3′ and lambskin (or parchment if you have philosophical issues). Apparently, the registrar has a “tiny” version for just this purpose.


gd January 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Did you go to Rice?


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Yup! Fellow Owl?


the gold digger January 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Yes! Wait. Haven’t we had this conversation before?

Lovett. BA English. You?


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Oh, yes! I didn’t recognize the abbreviated username.

Sid. BS Mechanical Engineering. But I did take two classes in the English department (both with Dr. Huston).

My big-ass diploma is still in the tube (I graduated in 2008). I figure I’ll shell out the $200 once I stop moving every nine months.


the gold digger January 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I framed mine years ago – you have to have a special frame to protect it from humidity or it will warp. (Which I know is not the right word – wrinkle?)

I had it in my office in my first job out of college, but when I started grad school, I put it in a closet and it’s been there ever since.

Dr Huston was so great. Did you take the Shakespeare class? I still remember he had us cast Othello for the movies. He wanted to know who should play Iago. People were naming actors who were not handsome.

Dr Huston said (this was years ago when Robert Redford was still handsome and not political) that he would cast Redford because evil is seductive and beautiful. If it weren’t seductive, nobody would be drawn to it.

I have never forgotten that. Any time I see a movie or read a book where the bad guy is physically unappealing, I think the writer is just lazy.


Stephanie January 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I did! As a freshman, even. (I forgot how I slipped in. Begging, possibly.) IIRC, I staged the opening scene to Macbeth (i.e., the Witches) for my project. In true engineer fashion, I think I drew all my storyboards with a ruler.

I miss all his profanities. My favorite was the “Shit I don’t want to see in your paper” lecture. “For Christ’s sake, don’t regurgitate my argument in your paper! I know what the fuck I said. I gave the goddamned lecture! I want your original thoughts!” He tore my writing apart (but in a good way).

I also took his public speaking class (which I credit for dramatically improving my public speaking skills). His compliment for a speech I gave about why golf balls are dimpled: “Usually, I find science fucking boring. But you did a really good job making something I usually wouldn’t give a shit about fascinating.”

Aaaaand I’m sure this diversion is only fascinating to us (and any other alums who happen to both read this site and read the thread this far down).


the gold digger January 31, 2014 at 7:49 am

In true engineer fashion, I think I drew all my storyboards with a ruler.

Sigh. I loved Rice and all the amazing people there.

ThursdaysGeek January 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

Actually, I came back to see if anyone had replied to my postings yesterday, and found this very interesting. Now I think I’ll post my school in the open thread, and see if anyone else from here went there. This was cool!

Editor January 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm

I was going to guess Rice, too. I had a grad student friend years ago who graduated from Rice and went on to get a Ph.D. in history, and he showed us his diploma in all its glory one time when he had to haul it out for an application. That was back in the 1970s.


the gold digger January 31, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Editor, it is huge! So my Rice diploma is in a closet somewhere and my UT diploma is unframed and I think stuck in my files with “transcripts.”

(Yes, I still have my college and grad school transcripts. And my SAT and achievement test scores. Is that weird?)


meh January 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

This happened to my father-in-law, who recently needed a license to practice medicine in New Jersey (he’s practiced in Pennsylvania and Delaware for years).

It’s largely because a few disreputable a-holes have posed as medical doctors without the credentials (or training). Some states, including New Jersey, have tightened licensing requirements and at least some NJ hospitals are now requiring, among other documentation, a high school diploma.

It did pose a bit of a problem; my father-in-law is in his 70s, so his diploma is from over 50 years ago.


anon-2 January 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

meh, there have also been infamous cases of people assuming others’ identities — identity theft is now common. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Great Impostor” … it’s on YouTube now.

Now – a high school transcript to assess your academic standards 30 years or 40 years later is rather irrelevant — but — as an identity checker, it can be effective. As I said, most states require that records be kept in perpetuity (or for a long, long time) — and if you attended County Reform School, instead of City High School, it just might be a disqualifying red flag, especially in some professions….

And if your ONLY academic qualification is your high school diploma — and you say you graduated from City High, you’d better be able to prove it, even 30-40 years later.


meh January 30, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Let’s be honest. A high school diploma provides no real check on identity, especially decades after it’s issued. Given that there are tens of thousands of high schools in the United States, and thousands that have closed in that time, no employer (or even state government) could possibly check for forgery against every candidate. A driver’s license or passport is a far better check.

And, in this particular instance, it’s particularly ridiculous. If one can fake enough of an identity to provide a false medical degree, board certifications, and a currently valid medical license, then one can certainly fake a high school diploma.

As to your other claims: while states require that records be kept in perpetuity, states can do little or nothing about water damage, flooding, fire, simple mis-filing, and other issues that cause records from 30-50 years ago to disappear. Similar things happen with personal documents, occasionally even in safety-deposit boxes.

And there is no profession where “County Reform High” would be a reasonable red flag THIRTY TO FIFTY YEARS later. We’re talking about someone in their 50s-70s. If they’ve got no criminal record, have a solid employment history, and good references, are you really going to worry about what they did when they were 16?


Editor January 30, 2014 at 11:52 pm

My father had various problems retrieving records, especially in regard to his birth certificate and military records.

Here’s an interesting post about military records, which mentions a fire in one archival location:



anon-2 January 31, 2014 at 9:47 am

If you’re going after a security clearance — they DO care.

As far as records being destroyed, etc., for the last 25 years (or more) things have been imaged and archived. So keeping these records — especially going forward — can easily be “forever”.

What needed a warehouse in the 1950s only needs a memory stick today, and copies can be rapidly made for redundancy.


Jessica (tc) January 31, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Not everywhere, unfortunately. I’m in charge of perm files where I work, and they are all paper. In fact, there’s more paper in them now than there was 20 or 30 years ago or more. (And 50 years ago and longer, the folder WAS the perm file itself, so it was literally an 11×17 cardstock folder with all grades and attendance, etc. written right on it.)

I keep asking about doing electronic files for a variety of reasons, the main ones being security and ease of access, but I’m blocked due to cost. And, as always, there’s the concern of longevity even with electronic records. We used to use one electronic database system and were assured that the records would transfer to our new one. Nope, they didn’t. So the only copies we have of ANYTHING on that system are the paper copies of transcripts in the files (good thing we kept those, I guess). Even though the new system is only about five years old, there are discussions of moving to another new system (that they know won’t accept transfers of the information from the old system, but it will easily transfer records between departments once set up, which is just a dream for all the different offices right now). Heck, I still have things on floppy disk that I can’t access, because I haven’t had a 3.5″ drive for years!

As someone working on archival studies, this is very interesting to discuss, because this discussion has been going on for 20 years now (http://www.clir.org/pubs/archives/ensuring.pdf ), and it’s still a matter not if the tech will become obsolete, but when it will. And then it still goes back to what my school is balking at: cost. If we have to keep updating technology and updating the same files to a new and better format all the time, those files are quickly becoming too expensive to maintain and should just have stayed as paper in the first place. (That’s their way of thinking, by the way. I’m not advocating for or against it here.)

It’s turning into a bigger discussion than you’d think it would be, but it all comes down to longevity and cost. My bosses know that the paper copies are going to last for 100 years (some of the ones we have now already have, because we consider the perm file literally permanent and we never destroy records). But they don’t have that assurance with any electronic database system and they are concerned that what has happened once (and soon twice, if they do switch again) will happen again and again every 5-10 years, upping cost of maintenance via employee hours and tech updates to try to salvage what’s there over and and over.


Gallerina January 30, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I’ve found that this is (horrifyingly) very common in the UK. Even though I graduated 5 years ago, have BA and MA degrees with high grades from prestigious universities and solid work experience, most of the mid-level application forms I see ask for my GCSE, AS and A2 level grades, even though the jobs require a degree.

The worst were the corporate graduate scheme applications (Barclays, I’m looking at you) which would automatically shut down if your pre-university grades weren’t good enough. No straight As and A*, no submitting your application, even if you have top marks in your degree.


anonintheUK January 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm

The last time I let a recruiter submit an application on my behalf, they were very embarrassed at having to call me back and ask for my GCSE grades (particularly since I knew I have 9 just could not remember what the ninth was). I’d put my degrees and my professional qualifications on my CV.


Feed Fido January 30, 2014 at 9:03 pm

I had professional applications for jobs that require masters degrees ask for my high school info.


Youth Services Librarian January 30, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I have neither HS transcripts nor a diploma – I was homeschooled. I guess they could call my mom…


PX January 31, 2014 at 4:57 am

Haha. That is an interesting point!


Anon for this one January 31, 2014 at 12:01 am

One of my kids had to produce a high school diploma for his job. He graduated from high school, attended community college and dropped out, and after some short-term jobs began working for an international company.

His employer decided to send him to Singapore temporarily when an employee doing similar work needed health leave. Singapore has very strict rules about temp workers because they don’t want them to stay or overstay. He had to produce a diploma in order to get the visa.


Kerry January 31, 2014 at 10:52 am

He doesn’t have 30 years experience, though. It’s a different story if the person in question a) doesn’t have a higher degree and b) is less then 10 years from high school.


the gold digger January 31, 2014 at 7:44 am

Last night, I was thinking how some of these comments reminded me of one of my light rotation nightmares, which is that I am told I must return to high school as there is no evidence I was graduated. I keep trying to insist that I have a master’s degree so why should high school matter.

Which is probably why I had the nightmare last night that I had never completed grad school and had to return. I have now upgraded my nightmares.


Us, Too January 31, 2014 at 9:04 am

I’m sure there is some tiny minority of jobs where this would be appropriate and situations in which I’d be desperate enough to be forced to comply, but I’d generally remove myself as a candidate if I was asked to provide this information. I don’t want to work for a company that mired in bureaucratic BS.


Anonymous January 31, 2014 at 11:54 am

High school diplomas or transcripts are required to be turned in for my line of work, no matter how old the person is. That is because of the state certification process. In order for someone to become state certified in my field, the state has to have the information. We have no choice but to require it.


Ann Davis January 31, 2014 at 1:50 pm

This is why owning the tools of the background screening process is getting to be so important for job seekers. With a pre-approved background screening and a full profile ready to be accessed a touch of a button, you can go into the interview without having to jump through all of these crazy hurdles afterwards! Just make it easier on yourself.

- Anne


Joey January 31, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Is this a sales pitch?

If you’re advocating going into an interview “pre-approved” that would be weird. Really weird


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