Where in the world is Matt?

This week (at least earlier this week), he was here in the Valley of the Sun, addressing over 200 leading public policy makers from business and education communities, non-profit sector and government.  On Tuesday Matt was part of the “Innovators Look Ahead” panel at Morrison Institute’s State of our State 2013.  Shannon O’Neil, Senior Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations, ASU President Michael Crow and Senator Jon Kyl also addressed the group.

Matt talked about the emergence of a strong technology cluster in Arizona, and particularly a dynamic education technology services center that includes Parchment, Apollo, Pearson, rSmart and Synergis, among others.  He discussed the importance of place in facilitating successful start-ups.  Angel investors, venture capital, mentors and an outstanding talent pool were critical to his success at Blackboard, and he affirmed that greater Phoenix has all the right elements to build great businesses.

One observer noted “This was the most optimistic panel of the day!”

Where will we find Matt next?  Stay tuned…

Parchment Launches First Reverse Transfer Platform

Parchment, the leader in eTranscript exchange, does it again!

We understand the critical role eTranscripts play in helping our members meet institutional goals.  Now, Parchment offers the first reverse transfer platform in the market, and paves the way for states to expand degree attainment.

45% of Americans start their postsecondary journey in community college.  When they transfer to a four-year institution, most students have not yet earned an associate’s degree.  The good news:  of those who transfer to a four-year institution, 60% go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.  The bad news: that still leaves a lot of students who earn credits at both community college and a four-year institution, but they don’t earn a degree at all.  That’s where reverse transfer comes in.  The idea behind reverse transfer is that students can transfer credits they earned at a four-year institution back to their community college.  With a complete list of credits, they can earn an associate’s degree from community college.  And that gives them a leg up in the job market.

It’s a powerful concept, and has earned significant financial support from organizations like Lumina FoundationKresge Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, USA Funds and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Twelve states have already committed to scale this initiative up.  Fast.

And who will make it possible for states to scale reverse transfer by providing the only fully automated solution to electronically exchange the transcripts needed to corroborate credits earned?  You guessed it. Parchment.

Reverse transfer platform:  just one example of how we work with our members to turn credentials into opportunities.


Credential News Unleashed

The world of credentials is seeing increased coverage with continued excitement about MOOC’s, reverse transfer fast becoming a reality, more and talk and action in moving from credit hours to competency-based education, and continued buzz around the potential for data to further transform education.

The following links are intended to help keep current on this exciting market as Parchment helps to turn credentials into opportunities.

Data Analysis

Since the last edition of Credentials News Unleashed, there has been increased coverage into the sensitivities around big data in education. The New York Times has given a lot of attention to this topic with articles on the potential for ed-tech providers to mine the data of young children and the privacy and the reaction as “Group Presses for Safeguards on the Personal Data of Schoolchildren,” “Senator [Edward Markey] Raises Questions About Protecting Student Data,” and “Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data.”

The growth in Open Data also received coverage with The Chronicle of Higher Education asking “What the Open-Data Movement Means for the Future of Colleges.”

Making a Better Match

There was a recent “White House Meeting on [the problem of] ‘Undermatching’,” as this topic has been receiving more attention from higher education researchers and advocates. I was recently reminded of an Atlantic article from earlier this year titled “Why American Colleges Are Becoming a Force for Inequality” which discusses how under-matching contributes to this problem.

We all know that college admissions can be highly competitive, Inside Higher Ed recently wrote about how some colleges are “Using FAFSA Against Students” by interpreting the order that students list the colleges they are interested in to determine priority, resulting in students being denied admission or offered reduced financial-aid packages as a result.

Innovation and Disruption

Michael Moe (Co-Founder of GSV Asset Management, a Parchment investor) wrote about “The New Innovator’s Dilemma.” This Huffington Post blog post explains how regulation can serve as a barrier to innovations in education. There may be some relief as a growing number of reform-minded lawmakers on Capitol Hill believe it’s “Time to Change the Rules” and help pave the way for competency-based education and other innovations.

The New York Times asks “Are You Competent? Prove It,” degrees Based on What You Can Do, Not How Long You Went.

There is also a rise in coverage on “reverse transcript”, including stories about increased efforts to “Find college graduates (who don’t know they are).” about Project Win-Win uses data-mining at state and private colleges to find students who have the credits needed to earn a degree or certificate.

College Rankings

A recent survey shows that college rankings have more pull with students than ever, with two-thirds of college-bound students reporting that rankings influenced their college application decisions and that students with the highest SAT scores were the most likely to have considered rankings in their application decisions,

While there is no shortage of methods to see how colleges stack-up, the New York Times covered how “Lists That Rank Colleges’ Value Are on the Rise

Transcripts in the News

In England 20 “Universities to adopt US-style ‘grade points’ system” and mark students’ work using new GPA’s to replace the 200-year-old system of first, second and third class degrees.

College Transcript Allegations Fuel Latest Feud Between Mayoral Candidates”after an attempt to verify one candidates degree through the National Student Clearinghouse showed that no degree was issued an attempt was made to request the candidates transcript without his consent.

The EdTech Market 

The recent Common App problems received wide coverage including an article in the New York Times, “Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedule.”  In the midst of Common App’s problems, Universal College Application added Princeton as their newest member institution.

…and Parchment in the news

Ted Mitchell, NewSchools CEO and a member of Parchment’s Board of Directors, has been nominated by President Obama as Under Secretary of the Department of Education.


Busiest Day Ever … Until Tomorrow

Fall is officially here. Pencils are sharpened, pumpkin-everything is in the stores, and Parchment Exchange is busier than ever.

Wow, is it busy!

In fact, yesterday was it’s busiest day in our 10 year history! Previously, on our highest volume day we processed 28,689 documents.  Yesterday, Parchment Send processed 33,880 documents, an 18% increase over last year’s record.  Not to be outdone, Parchment Receive members downloaded 81,800 documents.

October and November are such a busy time for everyone, and we are thrilled to see such a dramatic increase in eTranscript adoption. Year-over-year the number of eTranscript requests double, which means twice as many credentials are being sent, received, or processed with increased efficiency and speed for everyone involved.  We are right in the middle of the peak period for transcript exchange as students push to submit college applications. And as you know, when it’s busy, it’s very very busy.

For Parchment, peak days can have 300 – 400 million queries on our database and 2,500 logins per hour.

This is a very significant load on our servers, so we are pleased that they are holding up pretty well. However we’ve noticed that the morning hours are quite a bit busier than the afternoon. If you’re experiencing slowness on the system in the morning, and you have the flexibility to adjust your access hours,  we recommend using the system when things are a little slower:  between 12-2PM EDT and after 5PM EDT. 

This week has traditionally been the peak week of the season, so we expect to continue to see record busy days for the rest of this week, and into next. Thank you for your patience, and know that  the whole Parchment Team is here to help you. We’re working around the clock to monitor and adjust our system performance and provide support for you and your students during this hectic application season.

If you have questions, concerns, or just need a hand with something please reach out to your Account Executive, or support.parchment.com. We’re here to help!


Common App is Back Up and Running!

We are pleased to announce that Common App integration with Parchment Exchange is back up and running!

We realize the importance of this integration to you, our Members, and your students and we have been hard at work to ensure you can start processing electronic transcript during this busy college application season. As you know, CommonApp rolled out an entire new version of their technology platform earlier this year. Part of the new system is a new set of integration technologies for companies like Parchment to implement.  We received the new integration technology in mid September and have made it our top priority to restore the integration service ever since.

As of today, you may resume sending transcripts to Common App via Parchment Exchange. If you’ve switched to paper processing while the integration was down, we encourage you to switch back – students can easily place their transcript requests on Parchment.com and select Common App as a destination for their transcripts.


We’ve tested the integration and confirmed that it is working properly, however should you experience any difficulties, please log on to your Parchment Exchange Account, click the gray Support button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen to be taken to our Support Portal and submit a ticket.  A member of our Support Team will respond to your ticket within 1 business day.

Credentials News Unleashed

Following is the latest edition of the newsletter I write for Parchment employees to help us stay current on the evolving credentials market.

Competencies and Skills / Competency Based Education

AIR and the College & Career Readiness & Success Center issued a presentation titled “Competency-Based Education in Higher Education” which provides a detailed overview of what it means when we talk about “competency-based education;” bringing together presentations from thought leaders at CAEL, the Kentucky Community & Technical College System, and Western Governors University.

Inside Higher Ed “Have Credential, Will Travel” highlights how several Texas community colleges have partnered with the oil and gas industry to create “stackable credentials” that allow students to re-enter college seamlessly when they need more training.

More close to home (or at least more close to Parchment HQ), AZCentral.com covers how “Earning College Credit for Working is Urged in Phoenix Area.” which states that by 2025, about 40 percent of Arizonans will hold a degree but more than 60 percent of jobs will require one. Today, 27% of the adults in Arizona have some college credits and no degree, but more could attain degrees if they were allowed to earn credits based on learning at work.

We have spoken before about degree inflation, this infographic titled “I Need a Degree For That?!” features some jobs you may not realize require degrees, and cites a 21.7% increase for jobs requiring a Masters Degree and 19.9% for jobs requiring a Doctorate though 2020, along with 16.5% percentage increase in jobs requiring a Bachelor’s Degree during this time.

Student Data

As schools across the country are looking at new ways to integrate and analyze information about their students, privacy advocates remain wary. “Deciding Who Sees Student’s Data” from the New York Times

More infographics! “How Can Data Mining Analytics Enhance Education

Credentials and MOOC’s

Wall Street Journal featured a new spin on the MOOC phenomenon as the “Job Market Embraces Massive Online Courses” with companies like AT&T and Google designing and funding MOOC’s in an effort to better train workers.

The EdTech Market

AACRAO and the AACRAO SPEEDE Committee recently published their “Best Practices for PDF Transcript Exchange.” This list of best practices and guidelines for processing eTranscripts as PDF is based on a recent survey that shows that 51% of the 98 survey respondents are sending PDF transcripts, 85% are receiving, and 39% are doing both.

Happy reading!

Credentials News Unleashed

Following is the latest edition of the newsletter I write for Parchment employees to help us stay current on the evolving credentials market.

Competencies and Skills / Competency Based Education

Washington Monthly published an article that speaks to many of the themes that are changing how we view degrees verse competencies, asking the question “A Matter of Degrees, In the Future World of “Credentialing”, Do You Still Need College?

On a similar theme, Inside Higher Ed wrote about “Personalized College Degrees” where they made the case for a fundamental rethinking of the higher education business model.

Business Insider presents “Long-Term Salary [that] Data Shows How Much a College Degree is Really Worth.” While this isn’t the first story to present this ROI argument despite the escalating cost of college, this next article stood out as it shows that “Associates Degrees and Technical Certificates Can Yield More than 4-Year Degrees;” while this story from NPR presents “the Most (and Least) Lucrative College Majors

Credentials and MOOC’s

Free Massive Online Education Provider; Coursera, Begins to Find a Path to Profits” through paid certifications as students pay for evidence that they passed the class.

College Rankings

With the recent release of Parchment’s college rankings, everyone is talking about what rankings mean (well, the stories may have something to do with US News and World Report releasing their annual rankings shortly after). CBS News talks about “Why U.S. News’ College Rankings Hurt Students” while NPR covered “Ranking Schools Based on What Matters” in response to President Obama’s recent proposal.

Happy reading!

East Coast vs West Coast and everything in between

Parchment 2014 Student Choice Rankings show where the Top 100 preferred colleges in the nation are located

Our interactive map shows you where each of the Top 100 schools are located.  Click on the Google Map pins to see which colleges students choose in your region.

Click here to see the complete 2014 Parchment Student Choice rankings.

Parchment 2014 Student Choice Rankings are out!

How do some of the great sports rivalries compare when it comes to where students choose to go to college?

Betting which Big 10 or Pac-12 school will come out on top this year?

Parchment Student Choice rankings reflect where students prefer to go to college.  Check out the rankings for Big 10 and Pac-12 schools.


Click here to see the complete 2014 Parchment Student Choice rankings.



Parchment announces the 2014 Student Choice Ranking

Ranking System Reflects Students’ College Preferences

student-choice-2014-lgGiven the choice, where do students prefer to go to college?

Parchment reveals the 3rd annual Student Choice College Rankings, the only college ranking based solely on student admittance and enrollment choice data.

Each year millions of students across the US make a potentially life-changing decision: where to go to college. They consider where they have been admitted, and they make a critical choice. Today, Parchment, the leader in education credentials technology, releases its 2014 Parchment Student Choice College Rankings, which directly reveals students’ college preferences and enrollment decisions.

The Parchment Student Choice College Rankings is the only college ranking that is 100% derived from admittance and enrollment choice data.  Unlike rankings based on subjective judgments or on factors subject to gaming, such as selectivity or test scores, Parchment Student Choice College Rankings methodology is based on which college a student chooses to attend among all of the institutions where they are admitted.

Austin Arca of Irvine, CA applied to universities across the country, and was admitted to University of Cincinnati, Rochester Institute of Technology, San Jose State University, Syracuse University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Drexel University.  He ultimately chose to enroll at University of Cincinnati, he said, because its “…industrial design program (DAAP) is #1 in the country and it has a co-op program.”

Parchment’s list mirrors how students review and make choices within the college landscape – ultimately a mix of public and private schools, universities and colleges. The 2014 Student Choice Rankings includes eight liberal arts colleges and 17 universities in the top 25.   And while the top five rated schools look familiar, this year’s 25 highest-ranking schools revealed some notable differences versus 2013. Six new schools entered the top 25, including three liberal arts colleges:  Haverford College, Bates College, and Wellesley College. Harvey Mudd College, notably, rose from 24 to number eight in 2014, and was one of two Claremont Colleges that landed in the top 10.

The Top 25 institutions in the 2014 Student Choice College Rankings are:

1. Stanford University
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Harvard University
4. Princeton University
5. Duke University
6. Yale University
7. Caltech
8. Harvey Mudd College
8. Pomona College
10. Brown University
11. Georgetown University
12. University of Pennsylvania
13. Columbia University
14. University of Chicago
15. Haverford College
16. Swarthmore College
17. Tufts University
18. Amherst College
19. University of California Berkeley
20. Middlebury College
21. Bates College
22. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
23. Vanderbilt University
24. Wellesley College
25. Dartmouth College

For the complete 2014 Student Choice College Rankings list, visit parchment.com/rankings.

The Parchment 2014 Student Choice Rankings is calculated from over 250,000 student decisions.  And students offered additional insight into the real reasons that drive preferences and choices, including proximity to home; overall reputation, reputation related to the student’s major; curriculum and honors programs; cost, scholarship and financial aid options; institution size; connection to family and friends; and nice campus and facilities.

Natalie Wainwright of Algonquin, IL was admitted to schools that ranged from a private, Catholic university, to a research institution in Boston to large, Midwest state schools.  She could have attended University of Kentucky, Seton Hall, Suffolk University, University of Maine, Miami University or West Virginia University.  But she chose Miami University because it is a “beautiful campus with my major.”

Parchment employs a widely accepted tournament rankings methodology, a formula similar to the one used for chess masters, to arrive at its final rankings.  When a student chooses and enrolls in a school, that school earns points and the schools to which the student is accepted but does not attend lose points.  This point data is combined with another layer of point awards based on which institutions are expected to come out in the top positions.  At the end of each school year Parchment reviews the points each school has earned based on its methodology to arrive at its rankings for the next school year.

Acceptance and enrollment data comes from Parchment.com, where students collect and present all their education credentials to make the most of their education and career opportunities, and get valuable data to help them find the right fit for college.

Vote to get Parchment in SXSW!

SXSWedu 2014 PanelPicker public voting:  August 9- September 6

Alternative and stackable credentials are here, and Parchment is at the center of enabling a revolution.  SXSWedu 2014 offers an amazing opportunity to take the stage in front of thousands of innovative K20 educators, associations, policy makers, education and tech companies and students, and tell our story.

Parchment and our panel partners ACE, Open Badges and Western Governors University need your support today!  We are working together to present:  “Enabling Stackable Credentials:  The Future is Now.”

Please cast your vote now through Friday, September 6.  You do not have to be attending the conference to vote;  you only need to create a free account at SXSW panel picker.

Community-driven support is vital to earning a place at SXSW, and voting is a quick click of your mouse on the thumbs up button, so we kindly ask you to vote for the session.

Community member votes count for 30% of a submission’s total score, so your vote counts greatly in getting this important discussion on the conference schedule.

We have posted to our social media pages and will continue to drive the vote, but we need your help here too.  Thanks for helping us spread the word about the importance of turning credentials into opportunities!

Please use the following social media links in your posts to drive the vote:

Twitter example:

Vote for @parchment to speak at #SXSWedu2014 || Enabling Stackable Credentials:  The Future is Now http://shar.es/zqoD6

Linkedin or Facebook example:

Vote to get Parchment in SXSW!  Show your support for Parchment and help us share how we are helping turn credentials into opportunities.  Create a free account at SXSW Panel Picker and vote for our proposal “Enabling Stackable Credentials:  The Future is Now,” at SXSWedu 2014 in Austin.  The panel features Matthew Pittinsky from Parchment, Cathy Sandeen from ACE, An-Me Chung from Open Badges and Darin Hobbs from Western Governors University.

Credentials News Unleashed #2

Following is the latest edition of the bi-monthly newsletter I write for  Parchment employees to help them stay current on the credentials market.

Making a Better Match

  • In a New York Times interview “How to Cure the College Dropout Syndrome,” Jeffrey Selingo (former Editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education) said that “College is one of the biggest financial investments we make in our lifetime, yet many families largely make their decision based on emotion… so many students end up poorly matching to their campus. That’s why a third of students now transfer before earning a degree, and many unfortunately simply drop out.” The interview was tied to his recent book “College (Un)Bound,” which discusses many of the issues higher education faces, including the technologies he predicts will transform it for the better.
  • In “The College ‘Perpetration Gap’ in a single graphic,” the Washington Post demonstrated the disconnect between high school and college. Meanwhile the Common Core standards are looking to close that gap. If you aren’t familiar with the Common Core, you’re in luck as there is an Infographic that explains “What Everyone Needs to Know About Common Core State Standards.”

Student Data

Credentials and MOOC’s

Word of the Week:

  • Todays word isn’t a word, but an acronym – and one we should all be familiar with. FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is the Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and applies to all schools that receive funds from the US Department of Education.  While some states have additional protections, FERPA is the law that specifies when student records can be released and applies to Parchment as an agent to our member schools sending transcripts through the Parchment Exchange.

Happy reading!




Nearly 90 countries are using Parchment Exchange



While I knew that we have been working with schools in a number of countries – I had no idea how quickly our international presence had grown; and figure if this is news to me, it’s news to you.

A few weeks ago I received emails announcing new signings in both Saudi Arabia and Peru on the same day. This international daily double piqued my curiosity as to where we stood on the map. A query later, I discovered that we now have members in 6 continents (we haven’t cracked the Antarctic market) and schools in nearly 90 countries, which I found both shocking…  and not so much.

I was shocked because I had no idea how quickly our international presence had grown. It is only recently that we began to focus on the international market. While we had not been actively promoting our service overseas, schools around the world have sure been finding us; and with more international students attending American colleges than ever before, the fact that these schools are looking to Parchment for help is not a surprise at all.

The traditional benefits associated with sending eTranscripts generally come down to process efficiencies leading to saving time and money, speedier delivery and improved student services. When talking about these benefits, there is perhaps no greater beneficiary than the international school sending transcripts across oceans, looking to cut down a delivery that may have taken weeks to what is now minutes, while eliminating the cost of international postage.

When talking about our international presence, it isn’t just high schools and colleges registering to send transcripts, but also colleges signing up to receive eTranscripts; especially relevant as the number of American students enrolling in college oversees is also rising.

With this rise in student mobility, I expect to see continued growth in our international member count as high schools and colleges around the world look to the Parchment Exchange and a more efficient way to exchange student data.

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