4 Crucial Deadlines for College-Bound High School Students in 2017

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.

Registration Now Open for Parchment Connect National 2017

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!

The 2017 session detail will be released in late December, but in the meantime, check out the 2016 agenda and session descriptions for a good idea of what’s in store for 2017!

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.

Virginia eTranscript Initiative Achieves Milestone 100,000 Digital Document Transmissions in Two Years

William Monroe HS 100,000 transcript

“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.”

Turning Credentials Into Opportunities: A Vision for Parchment

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.

Thank you,

Matthew Pittinsky, Parchment Chief Executive Officer


  1. https://www.luminafoundation.org/resources/connecting-credentials

UPDATE: ITT Tech Student Credential Orders

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.


How to Help Students Transfer From a Community College to a Four-Year Institution

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 [1].

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.



  1.   https://nscnews.org/the-new-reality-for-college-students-earning-a-bachelors-degree-takes-5-to-6-years-and-students-attend-multiple-institutions/

Parchment is Now Taking Advance Credential Orders for ITT students

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.


Accelerate Your Parchment Knowledge at a Parchment Connect

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.

Not Your Mother’s College Rankings

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).

2017 Student Choice Logo small

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

  1. Pomona College (12)
  2. United States Air Force Academy (33)
  3. United States Military Academy (6)
  4. United States Naval Academy (9)
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2)
  6. Caltech (14)
  7. University of Pennsylvania (7)
  8. Stanford University (1)
  9. United States Coast Guard Academy (*)
  10. Brown University (15)
  11. Bowdoin College (13)
  12. Dartmouth College (42)
  13. University of Notre Dame (18)

    t-13. Columbia University in the City of New York (23)

  1. University of California, Berkeley (19)
  2. Princeton University (17)
  3. Yale University (5)
  4. Swarthmore College (11)
  5. University of California, Los Angeles (22)
  6. Wellesley College (49)
  7. Pitzer College (70)
  8. Harvard University (41)
  9. Texas A&M International University (30)
  10.  Harvey Mudd College (3)
  11. 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.

Top Companies and Places That Need Transcripts and How They Use Them

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.

Educational Institutions

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
  • Deloitte
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Boeing
  • Allstate
  • Cisco

While employers tend to use transcripts to forecast on-the-job performance, government agencies will often request them as a form of verification.

Government Agencies

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
  • NASA
  • 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.

Elon University Launches New Credential with Parchment: The Elon Academy Transcript

For years, Elon University has been at the forefront of innovating the form and function of academic credentials. We are proud to now be launching another innovative transcript, this time, the Elon Academy Transcript.

The Elon Academy is a non-profit college access and success program for academically-promising high school students in Alamance County with a financial need and/or no family history of college. The Academy includes three consecutive summer residential experiences prior to the start of their sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school, as well as year-round Saturday programs for students and families. The summer following high school graduation, scholars and families participate in the Elon Academy Transitions to College Program. Once on their respective college campuses, Elon Academy graduates and families are provided with continuing support through the Elon Academy College Success Program to bolster college completion rates.

The mission of the Elon Academy is to inspire underrepresented, yet academically promising, students to pursue higher education, build leadership skills, and develop an active sense of social responsibility. The Elon Academy began in 2007 and has enjoyed increasing success. In 2015, Elon University Registrar Dr. Rodney Parks saw the opportunity to give these students a unique advantage by transcribing their summer college preparatory experiences. Inspired by the recent growth of stackable credentials, Parks vision evolved into the new “Elon Academy Transcript”. Terry Tomasek, Elon Academy Director and Associate Professor of Education, was eager to advance the idea of documenting summer coursework and direct service hours for Academy students. Dr. Tomasek provided the functional components of the credential, including course and instructor information, course numbering, and historical participation data.

Myself, Melissa Holmes, Assistant Registrar for Technology, and Doug McIntyre, Senior Technical Specialist, developed all technical aspects of the new program in Colleague, the University’s student information system. After months of building, testing, and preparing for the 2016 cohort graduation, the Registrar’s Office is excited to present the 2016 Elon Academy graduating class the new Elon Academy Transcript. These students now have a verified credential reflecting all three summers of their participation, replete with their coursework, service, and co-curricular experiences.

The Elon Academy Transcript will serve Academy students well, adding an impressive dimension to admission packets. It may also give them an advantage over other applicants when applying for part-time jobs in the community or on campus. Elon Academy Students also have the option to request their Elon Experiences Transcript, which complements in-class experiences with a record of their service hours worked while attending the Academy. Together, these credentials constitute a well-rounded view of each student’s experiences, replacing a purely anecdotal record. The new transcript also opens the possibility of institutional evaluation for prior-learning credit.

The Elon Academy Transcript is the newest addition to Parchment’s array of document solutions offered to Elon learners. It can be delivered electronically to any admissions office in the country, professionally portraying the accomplishments of Elon Academy students in an authentic watermarked document.


7 Tips for Institutions Preparing to Transition from Paper to Digital

At Parchment, we’ve helped hundreds of institutions around the country make the switch from paper to digital transcripts. There’s good reason to do so: Not only are digital transcripts easier to compile and send, they also cost less and integrate with other systems for producing valuable data about the educational experience.

We’ve learned a lot of lessons as we’ve helped institutions make the switch to digital transcripts. Here are seven tips to make the process go smoothly.

  1. Document your entire paper transcript ordering and delivery system. Corona Del Sol High School in Tempe, AZ had a nine-step process for requesting and processing paper transcripts. Documenting it allowed administrators to witness the inefficiency in excruciating detail, which helped to motivate the team to take action and switch to digital.
  2. Learn what all of your constituents want. Parents of students at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC wanted to be able track transcripts from request to delivery and keep on top of college applications. Implementing Parchment Send allowed administrators to give parents that capability with a few simple clicks from any Internet browser.
  3. Identify problem areas. Transcript processing had become a significant bottleneck for administrators at Texas A&M in Corpus Christi, TX. Manual processes had broken down to the point where requested transcripts would get lost and fees would go uncollected. Registrar Michael Rendon also wanted data on how and when students were requesting transcripts, and for what purpose. “Parchment analytics allow you to do exactly that, slicing and dicing the data in as many ways as you can think of,” Rendon says.
  4. Make an integration plan. Furman University in Greenville, SC didn’t just want a digital transcript ordering system. It wanted a fully integrated infrastructure, which in this case meant integrating Parchment with the school’s Ellucian enterprise administrative system. The whole process took four months and now transcripts that used to take 4 to 6 hours to process are now completed in 30 minutes and monitored as they travel from Furman to students and other institutions.
  5. Decide what you’ll automate. Once you’ve identified all the steps in your paper process and singled out the problem areas, you’ll want to make a plan to automate the worst offenders. That’s what Charles Musgrove, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Temple University in Philadelphia, did. Using Parchment, the school now accepts application documents digitally and matches them into an Ellucian system similar to the one used at Furman. What had been a 12-week affair had been automated into about a day’s worth of processing.
  6. Develop metrics for success. Administrators at Maclay School, a Tallahassee, FL-based college prep school wanted a digital system that would provide data and guidance. Parchment fulfilled the need by providing students with insights regarding where to apply based on likely acceptance rates. As a result, 100 percent of Maclay’s 2014 graduating class was accepted into a postsecondary program.
  7. Think big. Moving to digital transcripts can have a variety of downstream benefits. For Ball State University in Muncie, IN that included eliminating file cabinets that used to hold all the paper needed to house and process new student applications. The reclaimed office space is now used for administrators who spend their time finding and admitting the best candidates, rather than pushing paper.

Finally, remember that even the best plan will take time to execute. Be patient and stay with it, always keeping the end in mind. Switching from paper always pays off in the long run.

“[Parchment enables] a lot less stress, transcript delivery status tracking, and a yearly savings of around $4,500,” says Maclay’s College Coordinator, Lisa McCall.

Why Students, Employers and Schools Need to Move Faster To Make Stackable Credentials Available to All

While there’s no disputing the value of a college degree when it comes to earning potential, nearly three-quarters of grads end up working in a field that’s unrelated to what they studied in school.

Liberty Street Economics made that forecast after studying Census Data from 2010.1 Academics have spent the years since discussing ways to connect the dots between learning and professional achievement, leading many — including us here at Parchment — to advocate for what are known as stackable credentials.

Forming a Career Path, One Credential at a Time

Simply defined, stackable credentials are a series of earned milestones. Complete the “stack” and collect the associated credentials and you’ll have verifiable expertise that has a value. The more credentials you have, the more valuable you should be to an employer.

And you don’t need to have a college degree to benefit from this concept. High school grads and professionals with some community college can also benefit from the pathways formed by stackable credentials.

Say you’re a nurse with an associate’s degree who works at a local doctor’s office. Adding a patient care technician certificate could lead to switching to long-term care, and earning more for your services. Stackable credentials codify and certify achievement, and, as such, it behooves the major players in each industry to design the “stacks” that teach the skills they’re seeking.

The combinations are virtually endless, and they’re not always vertical. Think of IT managers. Competency can be measured by certifications in different types and brands of systems — from Microsoft to Cisco to Oracle and more. That horizontal progression isn’t available to financial analysts, who advance vertically by passing different levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam.

Credentials can be stacked for the purpose of broadening a portfolio or for leveling up in a particular skill. Or, sometimes, for both. For example, a nurse looking to get hands-on experience in a hospital emergency room could need at least a bachelor’s degree, as well as a certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) to administer an IV or emergency pharmacology to revive patients suffering heart trauma.2

nurseWorking Together to Make Stacking Real

Today, students stack credentials on their own because there’s been no other alternative. Schools and employers can work together to change that, though the nonprofit Lumina Foundation has already put in place one of the key pieces. Through an initiative called Connecting Credentials, Lumina is bringing together some 80 distinct institutions to help set common standards for certifications so that learning and achievement becomes easier to quantify, helping employers find candidates who’ve proven they have the skills that hiring managers need most.

Bringing consistency to credentials is important, but it’s also just a first step. Four-year, two-year and vocational education institutions also need to pitch in by helping to better define pathways for students. Think of the undergrad student who wants to make films. What credentials should they stack, and in what order? Helping define not just a curriculum for that student but also a relevant stack is crucial if they’re to graduate with meaningful job prospects to go with a big tuition bill. In that area, in particular, learners have never needed our help more. Each second, U.S. student loan debt rises an estimated $2,276.

Watch the clock here. Then wipe your brow, take a drink of water and remember: with stackable credentials we can do more to make education valuable. But we need to act now.


  1.    http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2013/05/do-big-cities-help-college-graduates-find-better-jobs.html#.V3LyxZMrJE5
  2.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_cardiac_life_support

How New Mexico Is Leading an Education Revolution

In the United States, our education environments have historically been regionally focused.  From curriculum development to data sharing between institutions, public school districts and postsecondary institutions have operated with a narrow focus.  This regional focus has produced unintended results: a more challenging environment for the learner.

New Mexico schools have taken an unprecedented approach to redefine this paradigm and implement a collaborative model between secondary and postsecondary institutions, centered on student success and executed with interdepartmental efficacy. A model which could be incorporated by any other state.

A Shift 10 Years in the Making

The movement started as most do: with a problem that needed solving. In this case, the University of New Mexico (UNM) had been struggling to come up with an easy way to reflect dual-enrollment for the growing number of students who’d taken classes at two institutions simultaneously. E-transcripts were too static to help, though they’d been around for years.

UNM was seeing a growing number of students trying to save on costs and finish degrees faster. Some were ambitious high schoolers taking classes at Central New Mexico State community college in hopes of rolling up credits that would later transfer to and accelerate progress at UNM. Others were community college students taking UNM core courses just before transferring. In each case, keeping a consistent record of work completed prior to full enrollment meant pulling data into one consistent, easily verifiable record.

UNM realized it needed to replace its current e-transcript provider with one that recognized how innovative approaches drive results.   In 2015, UNM convened representatives from the local community colleges, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and Parchment to create a plan to how to leverage the digital credential in order to unify the student’s academic journey.   

The message coming out of that meeting was clear, APS and the other two largest districts in the state — Las Cruces and Rio Rancho — had fully embraced Parchment for sharing digital transcripts and credentials. And for UNM, the company’s platform would become a sort of data hub for tracking the pathways of students journeying to college.

Sharing Data, Driving Success

All of the discussions have been focused around the students’ college and career success.  At the school administrator level, the conversations focused on how students can leverage digital transcripts to optimize their academic experience. Additionally, students are using Parchment to find scholarships and match up with schools best positioned to help them achieve career goals.1

Alternatively, state administrators were looking at ways to crunch student data made available through Parchment to design better educational pathways and improve outcomes. Imagine if the University of New Mexico knew what their most successful finance majors studied in high school and community college? Imagine if they also knew the most likely point at which current finance majors drop finance and move onto something else? Optimizing pathways and curriculum becomes possible, and a lot of this data already exists in Parchment.

Parchment turns aggregated data from a district or region into anonymous chunks for later analysis. That way, administrators can see the most popular curriculum for their most successful students — and then share that with partner institutions. K-12 students enjoy more targeted learning as a result, and are setup to achieve from day one at college.

Will You Accept the Challenge?

To be innovative and rethink the role of data in student success, collaboration is instrumental. To best position students for success in their academic and career journeys, it’s critical to redefine the capabilities of the digital credential. New Mexico’s top administrators are  leveraging data and the digital credential to report measures about how well state schools prepare students for college and careers and K-12 achievement.

Are you ready to join the movement? Contact us today to find out how to get Parchment working for you and your students.



  1. http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3952595.shtml#.Vzz0O_krJhF

How Receiving Credentials from China Works

Chinese students represent the largest population of foreign nationals seeking a postsecondary education in the United States. In the 2014-15 academic year, 304,040 students from China were studying in the United States. That adds up to a lot of credentials heading into US admissions offices. If your institution is one of the many receiving applications from incoming Chinese students, you’ll be excited about Parchment’s tested partner solution with the China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC).



  1. It ensures the receipt of official records, authenticated by proper authorities
  2. It makes the process of obtaining foreign transcripts easier for the student
  3. It ensures that transcripts cannot be modified/tampered with
  4. It speeds up the delivery of academic records to the admitting institution
  5. It facilitates processing and archiving electronic transcripts



  1. Let Parchment know your office is ready to get started by completing this short form
  2. Update the language on your website. Let incoming international students know your receiving preferences. Sample language:

Applicants from Chinese institutions should request and submit official transcripts directly through CHESICC. Requests are processed by CHESICC and will be sent electronically to XXX admissions office. You will not need to submit a paper copy of your transcript. Go here to get started.

  1. Create a filter for CHESICC credentials by “Sender = CHESICC” and route them to the appropriate destination so they don’t get lost in the mix. (Page 8 & 18 in the User Guide)




How does the CHESICC verification process work?

CHESICC is the only MOE-authorized institution for higher education qualification verification in China.

Here’s how their verification process works:



Prior to sending credentials to Parchment to pass into Receive inboxes, this is the process that CHESICC follows:




Learn a little more about CHESICC and the partnership in this presentation.

Is there a contact at CHESICC that I can speak to regarding questions?

Yes! Complete this form and let us know that you’re interested in speaking to CHESICC.

Do you have more information on the Parchment partnership with CHESICC?

Read the Press Release for more details on the partnership.

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