There comes a point in the academic career of every high school student where the focus switches from academic performance in the classroom, to looking ahead to the next stage. For many, that means college—but there’s a lot that goes into getting into the right school. Make sure the learners you’re counseling hit these four crucial deadlines in 2017:
1. File the FAFSA.
Students applying to college for the 2017-2018 academic year have until June 30, 2017, to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and were eligible to submit the form as of Oct. 1, 2016. Submitting early is usually a good idea since it gives students and their parents plenty of time for updates and corrections. But even if your student doesn’t submit early, they’ll still want to make sure to have up-to-date federal income tax returns, W-2 wage reports, and other records of money earned. Also, make sure parents don’t overlook the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which can be useful for auto-populating key areas of the FAFSA. Other required documents may include bank statements and records related to any investments or untaxed income available to help cover tuition.
2. Schedule standardized tests.
Your students will need a qualifying SAT or ACT score to submit with a college application. Counsel them to get started early because the dates creep up quickly. For SAT takers looking to get their score for applying to college in the spring, the next deadline to apply is Dec. 21. Miss that and they’ll need to get an application in by either Feb. 10, April 7, or May 9 of 2017. ACT takers have just three options left for testing, with application deadlines on Jan. 13, March 3, and May 5 of 2017. More enterprising students looking ahead to entering college during the 2017-2018 academic year can start applying in August (for the ACT) and September (for the SAT).
3. Apply to the colleges of your choice.
The start of your student’s junior year is a good time to sit down and talk about the colleges they’re eyeing or may wish to attend. Chances are they won’t apply until the beginning or spring of their senior year. But at that point, they’ll know their top five or eight choices. If they are dead-set on one or two schools, set Nov. 1 of their senior academic year as the deadline to apply for an early decision. If they’re looking more broadly, set Feb. 1 as a drop-dead date for applying. By that point, they should have at least an initial response to their FAFSA application and one or more standardized test scores ready to submit with their other paperwork.
4. Make a decision and include a deposit to secure your place.
By mid-Spring of their senior years, most of your students will know which schools have accepted their applications and which have not. Don’t wait until finals to get your students in to talk about what they want and what they can realistically get. An early March call to the financial aid office of the school where one of your students wants to attend but who can’t without a better aid package could be well-placed. By mid-April, with discretionary funds for aid drying up or gone, that same call may yield nothing but a sympathetic ear. Either way, by May 1, the majority of colleges and universities will be expecting accepted students to provide a decision.
College will be the experience of a lifetime for your students who choose it. You can help them get there by setting a calendar for when to complete and submit the right paperwork to the right place.
Join your peers from across the nation for Parchment Connect National 2017, our fifth annual user conference, will be held March 2-3 in Washington, D.C.
This is the premier event for Parchment Members, focused on fostering community across the Parchment network, knowledge-sharing and discussion around the latest advancements in the rapidly evolving world of credential exchange.
Conference highlights include:
- Best practice and and training sessions to help you get the most from Parchment
- Peer-led conversations around digital credential exchange
- Parchment product roadmap overview– learn what’s new and on the horizon
- Inspiring keynote speakers
- And much more!
Ready to share your expertise with the Parchment network? The Call for Session Proposals is open until December 9th. Especially of interest are presentations that are highly interactive and address the needs of a wide range of Parchment Members. If your session is selected you’ll receive complimentary conference registration, a complimentary night at the host hotel and more!
Register by December 31st to get 50% off with Early Bird pricing. As an added benefit, with a paid registration to Parchment Connect National, you’ll receive a complimentary registration to our thought-leadership event, the Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials, held the day prior on March 1st.
History and common wisdom says that college students tend to come from a suburban upbringing, and head straight to university after high school. The data tells a very different story. A majority of today’s students—the traditional students—would have been considered non-traditional only a few years ago. They’re taking gap years, starting businesses and families, and generally getting a highly tailored post-secondary education when they need it.
Demographics are shifting in many ways. For example, according to the Lumina Foundation, enrollment among African Americans rose 72 percent from the mid-1990s through 2012, while Hispanic enrollment tripled over the same period. Even more telling; 56 percent of students surveyed work while attending school, with roughly half of first-year enrollees living at or below the federal poverty line. Another 38 percent don’t enter school until after age 25.1
Of course 18-year olds still head off to college, but they arrive to very different demographics than did their parents or the generations before. Why aren’t Chief Admissions Officers waking up to this reality and doing more to help these supposedly “non-traditional” learners succeed in higher education?
One answer could be is that expectations for college are changing as fast as schools are changing the makeup of their enrollments. For example, the rising costs of a post-secondary education means that students and their parents are less likely to commit to schools that don’t at least have a plan to connect the dots between education and career.
Rising interest in alternative education is also a problem. Enterprising students who take a gap year, had children, or spent their early 20s building a business are not only open to but actually forging different educational pathways, in some cases earning practical certifications to advance their careers, working the job in off hours or taking classes on weekends. Among post-secondary options, community college has proven to be particularly popular with non-traditional students. Lumina’s data finds that nearly half of all undergraduate students attend a two-year alternative rather than skip straight to a four-year school.
Can you blame them? Members of the 2016 graduating class exited school with a degree they financed and are $37,173 in debt, on average, according to data from researcher Mark Kantrowitz. Members of the 2015 graduating class left school with an average of $35,051 owed.2
Recognize that some learners, to keep costs down, may opt for community college or professional certification programs, or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). We also need to make it easy for students to get full credit for the work they’ve done elsewhere when transferring into a school. The last thing an eager learner needs is artificial roadblocks to success in their academic career, and only underscores the importance of a Transfer Student’s Bill of Rights.
Different students, different needs
Students looking to avoid the long-term pain of loans usually seek financial aid, but there’s less of it to go around now. Two recent reports from the College Board find that the net cost of college after accounting for grants, scholarships, and tax credits is rising because the so-called “sticker price” of a post-secondary education is rising faster than related increases in grant aid.
For example, average net tuition and fees at private, nonprofit colleges rose to $14,220 this fall from $13,340 last year at this time, when adjusting for inflation.3 The resulting 6.6 percent increase is more than double the average historical rate of inflation in the U.S. (3 percent) and over 16 times the annual increase in median family income. Institutions are often making it tougher to attract the learners most interested in spending on a post-secondary education.
Why not address the issue by including relevant scholarship and grant information when sending out recruiting mailers? Even if a school can’t offer a guarantee to prospective students, proactively providing insight and guidance for securing aid would be a welcome change for learners too often left to wonder what might be. And a lot of money goes unclaimed as a result; NerdScholar estimated the value of eligible but unused federal Pell grants at $2.9 billion following the 2014 school year.4
What to do now
We can come together to do a better job of serving the growing number of non-traditional learners in our midst, starting with using technology to find better schools and scholarship opportunities for students—whatever their age, history, or stage of academic journey. Coding electronic transcripts and certifications with machine-readable data for later analysis is a good start, and it’s something we’re already working on at Parchment.
No one who’s been an educator or who’s had the satisfaction of finishing an advanced degree will dispute the value of post-secondary education. The problem is there are too many starters and not enough finishers: 36 million Americans in the workforce today attended some college but never graduated with a degree.
We can get to work fixing this problem now, but first we need to recognize that our notion of the stereotypical college student is long outdated. Today’s future all-stars will take winding, uncommon paths to get the right credentials, and they’ll need relevant financial aid to go the distance. We can use technology to put students on the right path, right from the start.
- “LinkedIn article: Zombies, college, and today’s student,” author: Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation.
- “CBS News: Congrats, class of 2016: You’re the most indebted yet,” author: Aimee Picchi.
- “The Washington Post: College costs rising faster than financial aid, report says,” author: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel.
- “NerdWallet: Students Leave Over $2.9 Billion in Free College Money on the Table,” author: Gianna Sen-Gupta.
Every startup has the audacious goal to try and build something from nothing. At Parchment, we’re working from the ground up to change how the world values credentials, and we still find time to have fun.
“We’re a startup environment with a fun and engaging culture. We work hard and we play hard, as a team” says Gina Heller, Parchment Director of Human Resources. “We’re also a company that values technology, original thinkers, open communication and a great reputation in the marketplace.”
As of today, there are more than 150 employees — or Parchies, as we call ourselves — working to help transform transcripts, diplomas, certificates and other credentials into opportunities for the learners who collect them.
An Unprecedented Opportunity
We’ve made huge progress so far. Since our founding, institutions and learners have digitally exchanged more than 20 million transcripts and other credentials.
We expect that number to increase exponentially once every credential is made available digitally, as machine-readable data. And when we say every credential, we really mean every credential — from university transcripts and diplomas, to professional certifications, to online courses. Anything that expresses an earned skill should be made available in a portfolio so that learners can share what they know and how well they know it with employers and on social networks.
At Parchment, we provide this opportunity to learners and enabling technology to institutions, so they can confidently and securely issue digital credentials to the learners who earn them.
We think that’s a wonderful selling proposition, but we also have a long way to go to get everyone on board. Today Parchment reaches 25 percent of high school enrollments and 17 percent of postsecondary enrollments in the US to help learners collect, store and share their credentials. Hiring the right people is key to reaching more learners and institutions.
“We’re trying to create a culture where people are motivated by, and feel a fiduciary responsibility to, the impact we have [as a company],” says CEO Matthew Pittinsky. “We’re impacting people’s ability to translate education into opportunities.”
A Gathering of Mensches
Working at Parchment requires passion, drive and commitment. To be a Parchie means not only being start-up minded but also being willing to invest your time and talent to scale the world’s first digital credential service, and reach billions of lifelong learners in the process. To willingly accept an assignment of this magnitude is to be what Pittinsky calls a mensch — Yiddish for “people with integrity and honor”.
Of course, those who take on big challenges deserve big benefits. At Parchment:
- Every Friday we bring lunch in and dine together.
- We work hard, and we play hard. Our Culture Club plans themed events each quarter.
- We believe in a positive work environment and recognize each other in a job well done. In our EOT “Every Other Tuesday” all-hands company meeting, we share the FTGAPI, where employees recognize one another in the “Find the Good and Praise it.”
- We care about our Parchies and how they feel about their career, their role, and the company. Each quarter, we present the 5-5-4 survey where we ask five questions of each employee, five questions of each manager, four times per year to collect feedback. This allows us to make Parchment the best place to work.
- We love creative original thinkers. Our CEO has a literal open door policy. Want to run an idea by Matthew? He wants to hear from you.
- We have a supportive culture that not only seeks diverse ideas but also embraces them. For example, an internal group of female employees dubbed “ParchSHE” meets regulary to empower women to be architects of change at Parchment and beyond.
Want to join the Parchment family? To find out more about Parchment, and for a complete list of open positions, check the Careers page at Parchment.com.
“It’s like I won the transcript processing lottery,” commented Heather Corpora, a counselor at William Monroe High School, when she learned that she had processed the 100,000th eTranscript order for Virginia’s statewide initiative. We asked Corpora what it meant to “hit the jackpot” with Parchment.
In May of 2014, the Commonwealth of Virginia selected Parchment eTranscript platform for its 132 secondary school divisions, comprised of 331 high schools and more than 88,000 high school seniors. Today, 79 school divisions are in production across the state and a dozen more are in the works.
Located in Standardsville, VA, William Monroe High School boasts of 985 students and 242 seniors. This is Corpora’s 11th year as a school counselor and her second year at this school. Previously, she spent a lot of time mailing paper transcripts to colleges, but Parchment has completely changed the college-application process for her and her students.
“Gathering transcripts, school profile, test scores and recommendation letters and keeping track of the paper trail was incredibly time consuming and stressful,” she explained. “I constantly worried that the colleges or universities weren’t getting the information.” With Parchment, she saw a streamlined process that made all the counselors’ lives easier, which meant spending less time mailing paper and more time actually working directly with students.
To promote the use of Parchment, counselors distribute registration codes to all of the seniors each year, and then meet with students individually to discuss their post-secondary plans and confirm that they created their Parchment account. Today, 95 percent of transcript requests at the high school are fulfilled electronically. “Parchment has tremendously helped the college application process,” says Corpora. “It keeps everything neatly organized and in one easy digital location.”
For other high schools out there, Corpora highly recommends going to a digital transcript. “Counselors will be amazed at how easy the process can be and how user friendly the program is for students,” she says. “I love that the student is responsible for requesting their transcript and can be held accountable for making sure their materials are ordered.”
We also interviewed Abigail, a senior at William Monroe High School. Abigail is the student who ordered that milestone 100,000th eTranscript. “It makes applying to colleges easier because I don’t have to keep track of multiple paper copies,” she says. “The service is very user friendly and super simple. It took only a few clicks to request all of my transcripts.”
With the electronic exchange of their learning credentials, students like Abigail are poised for greater success in their post-secondary endeavors. Right now she’s tossing around the idea of studying neuroscience and psychology or attending a technical college for a degree in automotive technology. “Having the option to use eTranscripts makes it easier to keep things organized,” says Abigail. “It’s easier because you can track them online. Only one school that I’m applying to uses paper transcripts.”
To our school and university members, employees and partners,
Parchment’s mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities, and we take this mission seriously. More than a slogan, it’s why most of us at Parchment joined the company and why so many schools, colleges and universities are members of the Parchment network.
We include the qualifier “help” intentionally because it reminds us that our role is one of enabling. Our school and university members are the central players when it comes to making academic credentials a more effective and meaningful currency for pursuing opportunities for further education or in the labor market.
Three Big Enablers
We believe that to turn credentials into opportunities, we, as a community, have to do three fundamental things.
First, make all credentials digital, and digital credentials machine-readable data.
This may be self-evident in some quarters and a “technical detail” in others, but it’s a Big Idea nonetheless. When credentials are data:
- Two-year institutions can track students who progress into a four-year program and award them an Associate’s degree in passing once they’ve met the requirements.
- Employers can begin to evaluate and understand the relationship between postsecondary education experiences and outcomes, with the key talent management outcomes that drive their organization’s success.
- Summative outcomes like courses and grades can be explored through hyperlinks to access course descriptions, syllabi and evidence of learning (e.g., key projects and papers).
- High school students can assess their admissions probabilities at colleges of interest, and college admissions offices can use prior academic performance to help guide student course placement, not just make an admissions decision.
- Linkages between learner, credentials and opportunities can be measured and leveraged in ways that help rationalize a patchwork system of education, credentials and occupational fields.
Digital technology removes the friction that keeps credentials separated, whether in manila file folders or in frames lining the hallway of a home. Credentials that live as data can be combined into a single profile that reflects a lifetime of academic achievement, giving learners not only the right, but also the ability, to control who sees their record and to put that information to work on their behalf.
Second, be more innovative in the form and function of credentials.
The transcripts we’ve used for generations were developed by institutions to document courses and credits for mobility within the education system. While respecting that important use, transcripts can and should be transformed, creating more value for learners, employers and academic institutions.
Next-generation transcripts will be visual, richer and more descriptive, showing achievement over time and the distribution of courses taken by topic or skill. Academic transcripts will be extended to include experiential achievements such as club leadership, study abroad and faculty research collaborations. Diplomas will be gateways to portfolios, which provide evidence of learning. And students will be able to select focal courses to highlight at the top of their transcript, calling an employer’s attention to relevant learning. In short, the one-size-fits-all credential types of transcripts and diplomas will give way to different credential formats that are more personalized to the purpose for which they are being requested.
Getting to this point will require us to think differently. Rather than presuming that transcripts and diplomas are summary documents that say essentially the same thing, what if we asked employers and admissions offices: What do you want to know about our graduates? What should we track and how should we express it? Answering these questions thoroughly and honestly could lead us to a superset of data that gets turned into various credential types for various audiences, as needed.
Third, make credentials truly portable, allowing individuals to collect and manage their credentials throughout their lives.
This is a significant but crucial shift. When institutions control credentials they become fragmented for the learner who wants and needs a profile that reflects their collective achievements. When combined in this way—securely and verifiably, with the explicit permission of granting institutions—credentials become currency that helps learners forge a path forward. They create opportunities.
We live in a Credential Society
I am a radical incrementalist. I believe in the ability of technology to transform education, and I believe the way education is transformed is step by step, over time (and not Internet time). To do that and make the changes stick, we need to first recognize where we are now and how far we’ve come.
We live in a world where our economy and our society are knowledge-driven and knowledge-based. Roughly half of adult Americans have an academic credential such as a diploma or certificate, while one in four have a professional credential such as a certification or license. Credentials are the currency that allow us to gain entry into and benefit from this structure, but we lack a way to evaluate the knowledge and comparative value credentials convey.
As a society, we’ve become so awash in credentials that a Connecting Credentials framework was developed last year to create a set of common reference points. The idea is to develop ways to compare the “level and types of knowledge” that are conferred by certain degrees, certificates, industry certifications, licenses, apprenticeships, badges and more, in order to fully account for all that students achieve in a lifetime of learning.1
It could take a decade of incremental change to get to the point where we can look at credentials and accurately compare the skill sets of two different, but highly skilled, professionals. In the meantime, we need a next-generation digital credential service that supports every transcript, every diploma, every certificate and certification, fully and digitally.
And once we have a fully digital infrastructure for education credentials, we can do more. We can evaluate how certain credentials are represented in the marketplace and help future generations to customize their education. We can also better match employers with prospective employees by studying how credentials affect work outcomes.
In short: we can optimize how students, universities, employers and government institutions spend their time and treasure on higher learning.
Stacking a Future, One Credential at a Time
Education has evolved. We’ve seen it. Many of us at Parchment have worked at schools and universities or in other technology companies that serve educational institutions. With digital technology, today’s graduates can collect and stack credentials that reflect what they learn over a lifetime, helping them navigate fluid careers that ebb and flow as skillsets probably change.
The more we commit to building a digital credential infrastructure, the more opportunities we create for learners to “stack” credentials together to show provable expertise worth hiring or admitting. And the more effectively we can serve employers who want to assess much more than a year-to-year change in GPA and learners who want to showcase their experiences. Institutions also benefit by decommoditizing programs and proving that not all credentials are equal.
But this only works if lifelong learners have a single profile for collecting every credential they earn, which is why we’ve been working so hard to create the next-generation digital credential service. In fact, we use the same three fundamental goals I’ve laid out as our product north stars: making credentials digital and machine readable, innovating the form and function of credentials and making credentials truly portable.
You’ll be hearing more about how our product roadmap is advancing all three from our SVP of Product and Support Rajeev Arora in an upcoming blog post. The evolving Parchment platform for digital credentials serves three distinct stakeholders: the issuer, the learner and the receiver. Each has a role to fulfill. It’s a big step on a long journey we’re taking on behalf of our members. I invite you to be a part of it.
Matthew Pittinsky, Parchment Chief Executive Officer
Last month, we shared a blog post about how Parchment had begun taking what at the time were advanced credential orders for ITT Tech students. Soon after, we began processing those orders as records became available and we are now pleased to report that as of Friday, October 14, the backlog of ITT Tech credential orders is at zero! It is a great relief to know that ITT Tech students are no longer constrained by access to their records to pursue their education and career plans. Of course, at any one time there may be several hundred requests being processed, but orders should now be fulfilled within the standard 24 to 48 hour timeframe.
We know the road from then to now seemed too long for some ITT Tech students. There were two primary causes for long fulfillment times. First, the circumstances of ITT Tech’s closure generated a very large number of requests, all urgent, in a very short period of time. Second, compounding this backlog, the closure also meant it took longer to transfer ITT Tech records to Parchment for orders to be fulfilled.
To address the surge in requests for ITT Tech student orders, we doubled our member support staff so we could increase our speed to fulfill orders and respond to student inquiries. We also maintained a weekly cadence of communication with state agencies so they could understand how we were doing at the same time.
We look forward to continuing to assist ITT Tech students and alumni as quickly as we can. We have a dedicated student support team standing by right now to help with any student issue. Any students that may still have questions are encouraged to contact our team at support.parchment.com and one of our support staff will follow up right away.
Thank you to the many students who waited patiently during this process. We wish you the best of luck as you move on to your next educational or professional opportunity.
Educational pathways are changing. Instead of jumping straight from high school to a four-year college, students are taking gap years or finding their way to a community college, making the leap to the bigger schools when they’re ready.
And it’s not just a handful of students; it’s most students. According to a new nationwide study of two million students, conducted by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 64 percent of bachelor’s degree earners attend more than one accredited institution before graduating .
Think about that for a moment. As a counselor, for every 10 of your students, six will be transfer students at some point. How can you help them prepare? We asked Kathy Yeager, who is a senior director, community college relations, at Arizona State University*.
Parchment: Are there common gaps in paperwork for students transferring to a four-year school?
KY: Applications for transfer students are usually held up because we are waiting for official transcripts to arrive from multiple colleges. We also require transfer students to submit official high school transcripts, so that can hold up the application process, as well.
Parchment: What are those gaps and how could transcripts be improved to reflect the need?
KY: It would be a much smoother process if all institutions had the ability to send transcripts electronically via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), as Parchment does.
Parchment: What do four-year institutions typically ask for when considering a transfer student?
KY: A fully completed admissions application, official transcripts from previously attended colleges, official high school or GED transcripts. In some cases, depending on major, test scores, and a paid application fee.
Parchment: Is there data that would improve their case?
KY: Not really, as students are admitted based on published admission requirements. Mostly, we just want to see a complete record of achievement.
Parchment: How do you communicate that information today?
KY: Admission requirements for the university and for all of our majors are clearly listed on our admissions and degree search webpages. After a student applies, missing application data is usually submitted through our student portal. Our team will also send emails and call to remind students to submit outstanding documents.
Parchment: What do employers typically ask for when requesting information about a student?
KY: Employers can’t request information about a student from a university. The student has to supply any information required for an application or interview process themselves. Having access to all credentials in a single place, as Parchment provides, can be an excellent tool for meeting this need.
Parchment: Is there data that would be particularly helpful to students being considered for a job? How do you communicate that information today?
KY: The types of items that students may be asked to supply could include proof of degree completion, proof of enrollment, GPA, proof of a particular class completion, writing samples, project samples, etc. This is why there’s such a strong movement toward enhanced credentials that can be accessed digitally and which provide a richness of information that isn’t viewable on paper.
*Some comments edited for clarity
What to Do Next
Students know the landscape is changing. They also know they’ll need tools for smoothing what’s sure to be a winding path through higher education and into the workforce. Help them get there by introducing them to Parchment and the benefits of having a consolidated portfolio of verified, shareable digital credentials.
Not sure where to start? Get in touch now. We’d love to be of service.
Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to adopt a lifelong learning habit. Some of us have one and don’t even know it.
Consider the customer service rep who scours the Internet to find old manuals that hold the answers for customers who call in with difficult questions. Every piece of gathered data improves her chances of serving well, which, in turn, increases her value.
Every industry has this version of the stereotypical go-getter. Journalists who master new research databases are learners. Machinists who figure out how to retool an assembly line are learners. And schoolteachers who spend summers digging through curriculum research are as much learners as the students they serve each fall.
Others graduate from spot-learning to formalized training. Sources range from sophisticated catalog operators such as lynda.com to association and corporate-led certification programs, to institutionally sponsored Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Which should you choose? Start with a program that not only fits your schedule, but also suits your learning style.
Then, make sure there’s a digitally-available certificate awarded upon completion. You may need it to prove you’ve acquired the skills to advance to the next level in your career.
The Increasing Importance of Stacking
Think of it like a video game, with new skills acting like power-ups that make you stronger and able to achieve more. The more skills you stack together, the more valuable you become to a prospective employer.
Certificates represent real life power-ups in the same way that onscreen icons represent power-ups in a video game. Having more is usually better, but it’s the combinations that make the biggest difference.
Say you’re a young network technician who one day dreams of becoming a Chief Information Officer. Adding Microsoft and Oracle certifications to your existing Cisco certification is a must, but to that you may also want to add some certified expertise large-scale systems administration and perhaps an MBA from a well-known technical university.
That’s stacking in order to climb the information technology career ladder. Dozens more industries are developing similar stacks to guide ambitious learners.
Not All Credentials Are Created Equal
While there are hundreds or even thousands of ways to add skills, employers usually want proof of learned expertise. That’s where verified credentials come in.
More than a PDF, a verified digital credential can only be issued by the organization whose brand it bears. At Parchment, we use Adobe blue-ribbon technology in combination with our platform innovations to provide this functionality to high schools and universities today.
Over time, we expect thousands of trainers, corporations, and associations will use the technology to provide their own forms of verified credentials to learners so that they can be easily shared with prospective employers.
Even Non-Artists Need a Portfolio
Simple, secure sharing is the ultimate promise of digital credentials and a learner’s best ally in climbing the career ladder.
To get there, we’ll first need a central place where entire stacks of verified credentials can be collected and stored. We’ll soon have news about how we’re improving the Parchment Credential Profile to serve this purpose. Think of it as a vault that holds a lifetime of stacked expertise that you’ll carry and build upon throughout your career.
Are you stacking credentials? To what end? Leave a comment to tell us your story. And if you’d like more information about creating your free, personal credential profile, or if you’re an institution looking to offer digital credentials to your constituents, get in touch now. We’d love to hear from you.
At the center of the closing of ITT Educational Services, Inc are the students and alumni who were pursuing their postsecondary education and now face the challenge of earning their degree elsewhere. Will other colleges accept their ITT credits? When will they gain access to their transcripts to begin the process of transfer? In many ways these questions reveal the broader issue of transferring course credits in the U.S. and the lack of a Transfer Student Bill of Rights. But they are especially urgent and real for those who attended ITT and are now facing the involuntary need to change institutions.
The focus of this post is our announcement today that ITT has engaged Parchment to provide a convenient and national, online request and fulfillment service for ITT transcripts and related credentials. This service will be available during ITT’s wind-down period and afterward, ensuring a secure and accessible avenue for students and alums to receive the transcript and diploma services they deserve. As of noon Pacific today, orders may be placed at beta-www.parchment.com/ITT.
If you are a student, alumni or adviser to one, we have some important information to share about how the service works and some expectations to set for what your experience will be like in the first few weeks we are live.
Please be patient and expect initial fulfillment times to be slower than you deserve (several weeks).
Initially, ITT staff will start fulfilling requests placed on Parchment.com. Their staff are limited, so it is likely that most orders will queue until ITT makes its records available to Parchment’s systems. Once ITT’s records are available, Parchment can speed up processing time, but given the backlog of orders we will be starting with, we estimate that transcript fulfillment by Parchment will still take several weeks at first. As the initial backlog of orders is cleared, we expect processing time to take less than 48 hours. We have developed a special email that will be sent after each order explaining the processing timeline and how you can use Parchment’s online tracking tool to stay up-to-date.
Please take note of your graduation year as the service can support 2001 graduates to current students only.
We are only able to serve students and alumni with graduation years from 2001 to current students.
If you are sending your transcripts to a college or university, please use Parchment to send them electronically.
In addition to online request and tracking, Parchment provides the ability to send your transcripts electronically to colleges instead of us printing and mailing them. When you start the ordering process, you will be asked to type in the destination. With more than 80% of colleges accepting electronic transcripts, it is likely that we will recognize your destination and inform you that the admissions office prefers electronic delivery. (It is easier and faster for them to process electronic transcripts, especially when courses need to be evaluated for credit.) You can always choose to send via email to any email address or have printed and mailed to any address.
Please think twice before choosing overnight delivery as an option.
We provide an overnight delivery option, but because of the volume of requests we will be receiving at first, it will still take a while to process your request. Once processed, we will send it overnight, of course. But we want to make sure that requestors understand that we cannot ensure 24-hour delivery following a request until the initial surge of orders are processed.
Please take advantage of our Help Center.
It’s natural to have questions and we have developed our Help Center to provide assistance when you need it. If your main question, understandably, is “Where is my transcript?” or “When will my transcript go out?”, the tracking tool is your best and most up-to-date resource. Beyond that, we have lots of tips and guides and when needed, you can file a support request via the Help Center and we will work to respond by email as soon as possible. We are adding staff to help serve ITT students. That said, the watchword remains patience as we work to serve a large number of students all at once.
Please understand that there is a fee.
Yes, I saved this one for last. In cases like this we do what most state agencies and many colleges and universities do — we charge a request fee. For electronic requests that fee is $12. If you choose for your transcript to be printed and delivered by mail, there is an additional $2.50 handling fee. We recommend you send electronically, both to save those costs and because it’s the delivery method colleges prefer. If you choose overnight delivery or international destinations, the handling fee will be higher based on what you’ve chosen.
Schools or hiring agencies may need to request ITT credentials too.
While we anticipate the bulk of ITT credential orders to come directly from students and alumni, we recognize that there are colleges, universities, hiring agencies and other credential verifiers that have permission to request credentials on behalf of ITT students or alumni. In order to process these types of orders, requestors will need to be have a Parchment Receive account (don’t worry, its free we make it easy). Organizations looking to receive ITT credentials through Parchment can learn more about our Parchment Receive program here.
Our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities.
At a time like this you are probably not interested in the mission statement of the organization that is providing your services. That’s understandable. I share it because we want you to know, that we know, how important gaining secure and speedy access to your transcript is. We work everyday with learners in mind. The credentials we enable are critical to so many transitions and goals that people are pursuing, from admissions, to licensing to employment. You deserve our best and you will have it. We need your patience at first as we complete the transition from ITT and work through a big backlog and rush. Our sleeves are rolled up to make that happen as soon as possible.
We wish you the best of luck, wherever your transcripts may take you.
Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D.
Today, more than 8,000 institutions, including high schools, colleges and universities, rely on Parchment for the secure and trusted delivery of academic credentials. This network of sending and receiving organizations make up the Parchment Network, the largest network of secondary and postsecondary institutions. To bring high school counselors, college admissions officers and university registrars together to meet their peers, Parchment hosts a series of regional user conferences, each called Parchment Connect.
Parchment Connects are one-day, free events bringing the Parchment secondary and postsecondary network together to learn best practices from peers, discuss emerging trends in academic credentials and network with others within the region. Since 2014, Parchment has hosted nine regional Parchment Connects in Arizona (2), California, Colorado (2), Georgia, Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Attendees from past Parchment Connects rave about their experience. “Hands down your conference was the BEST I have ever attended! Your team was professional, knowledgeable and personable. I left excited about your product and what I could do to make the most of it. Additionally, I LOVED how there was a Parchment staff member at each table. I truly felt valued as a client during the conference,” Cherie N., Michigan.
Session topics and conference highlights include:
- Emerging trends in academic credentials presentation
- Member panel discussion
- Best practices breakout sessions
- Q&A with the Parchment Product and Member Development teams
- Member networking opportunities
- Lunch provided
- Campus Tour (optional)
Six Parchment Connect events remain in 2016. Sign up is available for most events today:
- Tuesday, October 4: Parchment Connect Kentucky hosted by University of Louisville. To learn more and register today, click here.
- Tuesday, October 11: Parchment Connect Pennsylvania & Delaware hosted by West Chester University in West Chester. To learn more and register today, click here.
- Thursday, October 13: Parchment Connect Texas hosted by Frisco Independent School District. To learn more and register today, click here.
- Wednesday, October 19: Parchment Connect Georgia hosted by Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta. To learn more and register today, click here.
- Friday, October 21: Parchment Connect South Carolina hosted by Greenville Technical College. To learn more and register today, click here.
- Wednesday, October 26: Parchment Connect Indiana will be hosted by Ball State University. Registration is not yet open, however, we will send an email to all Indiana schools once available.
It’s that time of year again – time for the flurry of college rankings. What are the most affordable colleges? What are the best college to get a chemical engineering degree? What is the best party school? The list of college rankings can be overwhelming but what we think really matters is what colleges students are choosing.
Since 2012, Parchment annually announces the results of its annual Parchment Student Choice College Rankings study. The unique thing about Parchment’s rankings is that they are based on REAL STUDENT CHOICES (that’s where we get the fancy name, Student Choice College Rankings).
Each year, students apply to colleges. Plural. Oftentimes, they are accepted to colleges. Also plural. When they have an admission acceptance to multiple schools and need to choose between two schools, we call that a match up. Parchment treats student’s college choices like a chess tournament. (stick with us here). We rank schools by all-time total matchups won against another school and then we assign points. The Ivy leagues get less points when they win a match against a state school but when that state school is selected over the Ivy, that state school gets more points. Bonus!
So, all that explanation to say that in the sixth year of revealing student choices in college rankings, mission-oriented schools like Pomona College, United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy attract students who share their purpose and consequently are chosen by students that had more than one admissions acceptance.
The Top 25 Student Choice Colleges for 2017 include (ranking from prior year in parenthesis)
* denotes not on list last year
- Pomona College (12)
- United States Air Force Academy (33)
- United States Military Academy (6)
- United States Naval Academy (9)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2)
- Caltech (14)
- University of Pennsylvania (7)
- Stanford University (1)
- United States Coast Guard Academy (*)
- Brown University (15)
- Bowdoin College (13)
- Dartmouth College (42)
- University of Notre Dame (18)
t-13. Columbia University in the City of New York (23)
- University of California, Berkeley (19)
- Princeton University (17)
- Yale University (5)
- Swarthmore College (11)
- University of California, Los Angeles (22)
- Wellesley College (49)
- Pitzer College (70)
- Harvard University (41)
- Texas A&M International University (30)
- Harvey Mudd College (3)
- University of Toronto (16)
In addition to the Parchment Student Choice College Rankings, Parchment offers a series of free college tools to help college-bound students build their lists, compare their admissions chances against other students that were accepted, and much more.
Whether you’re counseling students still in high school or plotting strategy with thirty-somethings on the way to finishing graduate school, transcripts will follow them to the next stage of their academic and professional careers.
You can help them by better understanding how schools, employers, and government agencies use transcripts to make decisions. Below is a closer look at the general consumption habits of these groups, as well as the top receivers of Parchment transcripts in each.
Aside from letters of recommendation, the academic transcript is the most important document that crosses an administrator’s desk. Executive Director for Enrollment Management at Eastern Kentucky University Dr. Brett Morris recently shared with us the 10 things every high school counselor should tell their students about transcripts – so ensure your students are hitting these marks. Admissions teams generally use the data within to make determinations about the likely success of prospective university students.
In the last 12 months, these schools have received a combined total of more than 292,000 transcripts through Parchment:
- Pennsylvania State University
- University of Maryland – College Park
- Arizona State University
- Michigan State University
- University of Wisconsin – Madison
While these schools are different in their size and specialties, Parchment data shows that thousands of students are interested in these institutions. Nearly 10,000 are tracking Michigan State, for example.
While a transcript isn’t a must-have for employment in the same way that it is for gaining entry into a program of higher learning, hundreds of companies use transcripts to better understand how a new hire might perform on the job.
What are they looking for? A 2012 study published in the Chronicle of Higher Education found that choice of major and the workplace relevance of coursework matters more to employers than a high GPA.
“Work experience is the crucial attribute that employers want, even for students who have yet to work full-time,” said Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, commenting on the study in a 2014 article in The Atlantic.
How do transcripts help employers determine experience for a student whose resume is barren? Skilled managers can sometimes infer prior training and relative competency if the job in question involves skills taught in school. High performance in relevant coursework can be particularly telling in that sense.
The following employers are top receivers of Parchment transcripts:
- Wells Fargo
While employers tend to use transcripts to forecast on-the-job performance, government agencies will often request them as a form of verification.
Trust is crucial when it comes to government work, and as recent history proves it’s too easy to lie on a resume. For example, in 2012, a hedge fund manager revealed that then-Yahoo! chief executive Scott Thompson had never earned the computer science degree he had claimed on his C.V.
Not surprisingly, some agencies and military branches hedge against this type of cheating by asking candidates to supply an official transcript through Parchment. They include:
- United States Army
- United States Department of State
Whether it’s to get into a school, find a job, or start a career in government service, transcripts are an increasingly popular tool for evaluating and verifying credentials. Is your institution using Parchment to share data like the others on the list? Leave a comment with your story. And if not, here’s where to learn more.
As a high school counselor, the most important part of your job is helping students pick the school that’s right for them. Yet that job is a lot tougher than it used to be.
Why? Students have more choices. Some are skipping college to start businesses. Others are extending the traditional “gap” year to collect unique life experiences while still young. Who can blame them? While there’s no doubting the lifetime value of higher education, recent college graduates are facing a tough job market. Unemployment among the class of 2015 sits at 7.2 percent versus 5.5 percent in 2007. Underemployment — measured as having a job but not earning enough to pay bills — sits 14.9 percent for this same group, up sharply from 9.6 percent over the same period, according to data supplied by the Economic Policy Institute.
3 Ways to Help Your Student Pick the Right College
Student debt is also on the rise. Specifically, Federal Reserve data reveals that the number of borrowers increased by 92 percent from 2010 to 20141, and average debt per borrower increased by 74 percent over the same period. High school kids and their parents seeing this data may be struggling to figure out how to justify an investment in higher education. We have three strategies to help them make the best possible decision.
- Reflect on the experiences your students want. Economic conditions being what they are, it’s fair for students to be thinking of college as an investment with an expected return. The danger is going in expecting an education to deliver a certain type of job. Instead, encourage your student to think of the types of experiences she may want and then pick an institution that can deliver. Say her long-term goal is to work in biotech. A research university with a record of giving students lots of lab time and meaty, groundbreaking research projects might be an excellent fit, and provide relevant experience for the job search to come.
- Match their interests and expertise. Thanks to the rise of co-curricular transcripts at U.S. universities, we’re getting more information about how institutions serve students with interests beyond coursework. Tap into this data to help your students develop a shortlist of schools most likely to deliver the experiences they crave. Say your student is an avid photographer. Schools that work with museums and galleries to host professional-style shows may be of interest. All the better if they also offer scholarships and flexible tuition options.
- Examine alumni records. Thinking of college as an investment means thinking about outcomes. One way to help your student do that is to look at alumni records. Have many alumni have gone on to perform the type of work your student wants to do someday? How many followed her proposed line of study only to end up in another career? Engage with students early to help them figure out the best coursework load to get to the school — and program curriculum — that’s most likely to produce a profitable outcome.
With tuition costs on the rise and student debt levels growing at unprecedented rates, the stakes have never been higher when it comes to choosing the right college. Students will be looking to you to help them navigate the decision. Guide them by looking for institutions most likely to provide a return. Specifically, schools that offer relevant experiences and curriculum that match their interests and expertise, and with an alumni record that foreshadows a favorable outcome upon graduation.
No university can guarantee that they’ll make students’ lifetime wishes come true, but as a high school counselor, you can at least help them get them most from the expense — and the experience.