Probably more parents, than students will read this long article. It is important for both.
Top 3 things we never find when we need them:
A student’s life is tough. Tests, projects, exams, viva… and then at the end of the academic year comes the report card, also called as the mark-sheet or grade card. You may remember how we feel proud to show our mark-sheets to our parents if we have done well in exams, and in other cases, how we dread being asked for the mark-sheet! In any case, your academic documents are a proof of your academic efforts and results. It is vital that you preserve these documents. Forever.
Here I will discuss some of the methods you can use to take care of your documents.
Prepare a Check-List of All Documents
Make a list of all available documents, starting with the earliest class for which you have these. I know, no one will ever ask you the grades you got in class 4. But it makes for interesting reading later on in life, and sharing with your children, and grand-children.
So, start by arranging all your original documents in this order. Make a checklist, on paper. Start with an earlier class if you have those documents. Add other documents, if any.
- Class 8
- Class 9
- Class 10 (Secondary School Certificate – SSC) Marksheet
- Class 10 (Secondary School Certificate – SSC) Passing Certificate
- School Leaving Certificate
- Bonafide Certificate from School
- Class 11 marksheet
- Class 12 Marksheet (Board exam)
- Class 12 Passing Certificate (Board Exam)
- School / College Leaving Certificate (after class 12)
- First Year graduation marksheets
- Second Year graduation marksheets
- Third Year graduation marksheets
- Degree Certificate of University
- Passing Certificate and Bonafide certificates
- Do this for all other exams that you have appeared for.
- The following NON-ACADEMIC documents should also be included, if available: Birth Certificate, PAN Card, Aadhar Card (UID), Driving License, Passport, Domicile Certificate, Caste certificate, etc.
In addition to these, you can preserve the following documents also: admit card (hall ticket, especially for Board exams), fee receipts, school/college Identity Cards. These are useful for obtaining duplicate copies of lost documents.
For graduation and post graduation classes, keep a copy of your course syllabus. This will be required if you are applying for higher studies to international universities, for obtaining transcripts and to show equivalence of a course.
What to Check For When You Get Your Document?
Although most academic record is now computerised, data entry mistakes can take place. It is essential that you check every document that you receive. If you point out the mistakes immediately, they can be rectified and new document will be issued to you. If any of your existing document has any mistakes, get them corrected now, instead of waiting for a later date.
Often students and parents ask: Is it important if the sequence of names is different in different documents? Yes, it matters. An existing document is usually used to create a new document. If the names are not in same order, it will create confusion and some organisations like the passport office or another university may insist that you get all documents in same name order.
- Your Name – Spelling. Extremely important. No abbreviations.
- Your Name – Sequence of First Name, Middle Name , Last Name (Surname), Mother’s Name. This sequence of names must be same in all your documents so while filling your examination forms, ensure that you fill up these particulars in order.
- Your name – sometimes schools and colleges may drop a part of the name like the middle name (Father’s Name) or Mother’s Name. Ensure that this does not happen and request the school/college authorities to issue a correct and complete document. Most states now mandate that Mother’s Name is also printed on all academic documents, so check that.
- Exam details – Month and Year of exam, Seat No / Roll No / Registration No, Centre No, Subjects, Marks, Total, percentage and Grade
- If the marksheet is handwritten, check that the total shown is correct by adding marks of each subject; similarly, check the percentage and grade.
- In case of school/college leaving certificates, check names, and also: date of birth, place of birth, caste, mother tongue and dates of joining and leaving the institution.
- In case your name has changed due to any reason, you must have the government gazette showing your old and new name. and a copy of the newspaper advertisement announcing your new name.
Backup!! But on Paper
Once you have all your original documents, arranged in order with the oldest document at the end, take a xerox copy (photo copy) of each of these documents on good quality paper (preferable on thicker 80 or 100 gsm paper). Original documents may not be in standard size, e.g., degree certificates are usually on larger size papers. But take all photocopies on A4 size paper. Some documents like mark-sheets, have subject codes or other important information on back side, and you must take photocopy of both sides on same sheet.
Now that you have photocopies of all documents, get spiral binding done for this set; the oldest document (earliest class) will be at the bottom. Non-academic documents will be at the top. Put a page on top with your name in bold letters to identify your set. Spiral binding has advantages: (i) it is not at all expensive, (ii) pages can be inserted in between, or added on top as you acquire additional qualifications and documents, (iii) pages open up easily without opening up / breaking the binding.
Next time you need to photocopy more copies of some certificate, you need not carry the original with you, just take this spiral bound book and get the photocopy of the relevant page. That way you eliminate the chance of misplacing your original certificate. But here is something very important: if you need to submit a copy, DON’T remove it from the spiral-bound set; that would defeat the whole purpose of taking backups. Instead, take the whole spiral bound set and take a photocopy from the photocopy itself.
Backup!! Digital Backup On Cloud
OK, so now you have the original documents safely kept in one place, all organized. You have a photocopy of each document, in spiral-binding. Is it now necessary to take a backup on the cloud? Yes. Physical documents can be misplaced, damaged over time. Digitally scanned documents don’t have these problems. So if you happen to misplace both the original and the photocopies, you can download and print from cloud storage. Why on cloud? Why can’t I just store it on my pen-drive, CD-ROM, etc? For the same reason – these devices can be lost. Or worse, as is happening, there may not be a CD drive in a computer. (CD-ROMs can last 100 years we were promised, but we were not told that CD drives will be outdated in less than 20 years). That will happen soon with pen-drives also. Cloud is the place to store your data.
So now that you have all documents in a chronological sequence (class 8, class 9, class 10, etc), scan each of these documents in color. There are many mobile apps that do an excellent job, and they are free, CamScan is a popular app. As you scan each document, change its filename to reflect the class. For example, class 10 marksheet can be named as CLASS 10 -MARKSHEET, or SSC MARKSHEET, school leaving certificate as SCHOOL-LC, etc. Save these in PDF format. Once you have scanned and renamed all these documents, upload to one of the many cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Outlook or Yahoo cloud storage. The free plans offered by these services are sufficient to store the scanned documents. Upload your new documents periodically. For every certificate you earn, there must be a corresponding photocopy in the spiral-bound set and a scanned copy on the cloud storage.
It takes a full academic year to earn your diploma, degree or to pass a class. The efforts made by you are reflected in your mark-sheets and certificates. Spending a few minutes once in six months to update the spiral-bound book and update on cloud will save you the trouble of having to run from pillar to post in case some document is lost.
If you have devised other strategies for preserving your documents, please share those in the comments section below.