Alumni engagement is a task all colleges struggle with, and you’ve likely felt the strain yourself. You have a network of adults all connected through a single institution, but it’s difficult to get them involved.
Struggle no longer – here are two simple ways to re-engage your alumni:
1. Invest in their success
To most alumni, every message from their alma mater feels like a request for something – a donation supporting a fundraiser, an appeal to mentor a current student or a request to use their likeness. Your former students may respond once in a while, but too many of these requests become tedious.
Other typical alumni re-engagement efforts simply tell your former students what’s new with the school. They come in the form of magazines and newsletters published by the institution. Unfortunately, your alumni’s interest in these types of details starts waning the minute they step off campus. Once they’ve secured a good job, they think about their school less and less (assuming they don’t care for college sports or happened to dot the i in marching band)
Essentially, your school doesn’t appear as relevant to your alumni as it was when they were students. Whether or not this feeling is true is beside the point. Your alumni think they don’t need you, so they start to ignore you.
It’s up to you to show alumni that you’re still important. Do this by reminding alumni why they chose your school in the first place: for the credentials. By giving them digital access to their transcripts, diplomas, and other such documents, you remind alumni that your institution is heavily invested in their success.
Ordinarily, alumni would have to contact the school’s registrar office to get copies of their diplomas, transcripts, licenses or other documents necessary for education verification. Without these papers, they have a hard time proving their background to employers. Help them out by making it easy for them to request this information and send it in the blink of an eye.
2. Meet them on relevant channels
When was the last time you checked your mailbox when you weren’t expecting a package from Amazon? If you’re the type who checks every day, chances are you’re often disappointed by the letters you find. Your alumni feel the same way, even when that letter is from their alma mater. Usually, missives from your school go right in the garbage.
Avoid the trap of the trash can by interacting with alumni on the channels they use in the here and now, not a decade (or even a year) ago. In 2018, that means extending your engagement efforts to social media. No doubt your school has general Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages already. It’s beneficial to incorporate alumni engagement posts onto these platforms or to create separate profiles specifically for interacting with former students.
In fact, your digital credential tool can help you in this area, assuming you choose the right one. With Parchment, alumni (and current students!) can share their credentials on their social media platforms. What better way to show school pride than posting a verified version of a diploma on Facebook?
To further engage former students, why not include some user-generated content or hold a social media contest? Have alumni share screenshots of their digital credentials and randomly select a winner for a prize. For a simpler approach, use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Stories to conduct an informal poll. The more you can get alumni involved via the platforms they use the most, the greater chance you have of re-engaging them.
If you are a Basic Receive Member, here are some tips and tricks to help you keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
- Receive. Route. Download. When receiving documents, first route by dragging to one of the destinations on the left, and then zip and download. The online status of the document changes to ‘Download confirmed’ and the student automatically gets an email telling them that the document has been downloaded. If you print/download before routing to a destination, no emails are sent.
- Add Your Email. Add your email address to your Parchment Receive account in your General Settings. That way, when schools or students use Parchment Send to send transcripts to your email address, the documents will automatically and conveniently go to your Receive account.
- Zip Overnight. Check the ‘Automatically Prepare Overnight’ option in your Destination Settings so that the system zips your documents overnight. Then those documents will be ready to download as a zip file first thing in the morning.
- Customize Status Emails. Personalize the confirmation message to include customized information in the email students get when documents are downloaded. Go to Settings > Inbox > Delivery. You have 400 characters to work with.
Want to know more about using Parchment Receive? Check out these additional resources:
How amazing would it be to have had a teacher like Valerie Felicity Frizzle – aka Ms. Frizzle, aka The Frizz, from “The Magic School Bus?” The eccentric, intelligent educator is infamous for her wacky outfits and even wackier field trips, taking her students through space, circulatory systems, animal habitats and more.
No doubt Ms. Frizzle’s students got an unparalleled educational experience, learning facts and concepts they would never have understood otherwise. But when it comes time to apply for college, how will Frizzle’s students prove what they know? How will Janet, who collected proof of the class’s trip to the solar system, verify that the rocks she grabbed are indeed from each of the planets? How will Arnold prove his community service as part of the “Leave-The-Log-As-It-Is” club?
This metaphor applies to your own students who participate in nontraditional education experiences, such as internships, field trips, study abroad and community service. These experiences are great for enhancing a student’s college applications. Not only are the details sometimes hard to remember, but students need to be able to verify that they actually participated in these events.
‘The Magic School Bus Gets Credit’
We all know this, but it bears repeating: Colleges want more from prospective students than good grades. Records that show a well-rounded academic and personal life are better for helping students get accepted – even if they have a few low grades affecting their GPAs. That’s partially why so many students participate in extracurricular activities like sports, internships and volunteer work.
Unfortunately, most of these activities aren’t included in official academic records, forcing students to remember the intricate details when it comes time to apply for college. This is problematic – how can a high school senior remember the exact number of hours she spent volunteering as a freshman? If the school she applies for discovers a discrepancy between her claims and those of the nonprofit she worked with, she could be accused of falsifying her application and have her offer revoked, regardless of whether or not she meant to lie.
K-12 schools can help students avoid this potential catastrophe by using Parchment’s credential management system. We do more than make digital versions of diplomas and report cards; our partnership with intelliVOL gives students and schools in our network access to x2VOL’s Official Service Transcript, which digitally tracks and verifies student community service hours.
Your school can further support its students with Parchment Send, which gives them access to letters of recommendation (for a student’s bravery during a trip to Pluto, for example), immunization records (after traveling inside a sick friend and learning about white blood cells) and miscellaneous attachments (to account for the dozens of other science-bending field trips).
‘The Magic School Bus Rides Forever’
One great thing about ‘The Magic School Bus” and its reboot is that the program shows how learning can be a lifelong process. Although the children of the series are still in school, their field trips aren’t part of the conventional curriculum. Far from it – these trips are extraordinary but still help students reinforce concepts they learn in the classroom. In this way, these stories show children and adults that the world around us can be more educational than any classroom.
Parchment believes in these experiences, and we think students should be able to refer to them to as they need. With Parchment Send and intelliVOL, we give students access to all the credentials that will help them succeed, not just their grades.
Learn more about how Parchment helps learners make the most of their education.
The conversation surrounding college prep, dual enrollment, and AP coursework is heating up nationally. You know that Advanced Placement courses and dual enrollment at community colleges can both give students the boost they need to succeed at a four-year university and beyond. But, when a student comes to ask you which is better, do you know what response to give?
Don’t worry if you’re unsure of the answer – parents, administrators, counselors and even researchers have debated this question since high school students could start receiving college credits. Both options have their benefits, but they each have drawbacks as well.
For instance, dual enrollment can give students a better taste of college life, but learners risk wasting their time if they’re not careful. According to the latest research from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a significant number of students who try to transfer credits between schools are either prevented from doing so or face extreme difficulty. In fact, students who transferred between 2004 and 2009 lost an approximate 43 percent of their college credits, forcing them to take classes over again.
That said, AP courses have their own headaches. Students take these classes alongside their fellow high schoolers, which leaves them unprepared for a true college experience. What’s more, their ability to transfer credits depends not on the time spent in class but on the result of a single test: the AP exam. This means students run the risk of not scoring high enough, squandering their efforts to bypass a few entry-level college courses.
Making the choice: AP or dual enrollment?
So what’s the consensus? Which option is better for a student’s future? Despite their shortcomings, the opportunity for success is relatively equal for both.
“It really depends on the individual student’s circumstances,” said Nicole Buesse, a high school counselor, to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Both are very good options.”
What’s most important is that students understand how their credits will be transferred to the four-year college of their choice. Essentially, the question isn’t one of AP versus dual enrollment but enrollment requirements versus enrollment requirements. If a student’s favored school is more likely to accept a lower AP score and less likely to accept community college credit – as is sometimes true of elite universities – that individual is better off taking AP classes instead of dual enrollment. On the other hand, if the student wants to attend a state school that has partnerships with local community colleges, he or she should probably choose dual enrollment.
Unfortunately, finding which choice is better for a student’s success can be difficult. As the GAO pointed out, many four-year schools leave students in the dark when it comes to transfer information. This means that high school juniors and seniors aren’t clear about which will have the most impact on their college career: dual enrollment or AP.
Still, there has to be something that you can do to support your students, right?
Helping students receive their credentials
Right! One essential thing you can do to help your students succeed when it comes to AP versus dual enrollment is to ensure your school can easily send and receive credits. Dual enrollment can reduce the expense of a four-year college, but students have to request their credits to be sent to the high school in order to complete their diploma. Likewise, four-year schools need more than a student’s AP exam scores; they need records of the students’ classroom grades. Parchment makes the process of sending and receiving credentials quick and painless, transferring secure information from sender to receiver in the blink of an eye.
As students decipher which educational option works best for them, you can support their future by making sure their credentials are right in their hands. See how Parchment can help.
Today’s graduating college students face an employment landscape unlike that of any generation before them. Not only are businesses more international than ever – increasing the number of applicants competing for a single position – but modern ideas like working remotely, contingent/freelance staff and an emphasis on soft skills have altered what companies look for in an employee.
This, unfortunately, means it’s that much harder for students to get a job – even if their credentials are a perfect match. That’s why nuances like a well-crafted cover letter are so important.
That said, just as the job landscape has changed over the past few decades, so too have best practices for writing cover letters. Let’s look at what’s changed by debunking three cover letter myths and reviewing how a school’s Career Services employees can help students write them more effectively:
Myth No. 1: Cover letters are short and light on information
Old advice dictated that cover letters were to be a paragraph long with a generic greeting (“To whom it may concern,” of course) and a brief introduction of the applicant. These days, that type of thinking won’t cut it. Job recruiters are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of applications throughout the hiring process. In the interest of saving time, they want to know as much about a candidate as they can before scheduling an interview.
When helping students write cover letters, encourage them to go beyond the basics when discussing themselves and their credentials. Help them describe how their school experience and assignments gave them both the hard and soft skills necessary to succeed in the specific role, rather than simply saying they studied X, Y and Z.
Myth No. 2: Cover letters are just an introduction to the rest of the application
Cover letters were often seen as sort of a throwaway document – a formality that just introduced the resume and application. But as we said earlier, hiring managers want more information up front, and the cover letter is the best way for students to make themselves known.
Student credentials can play a major role here, if written about correctly. According to PwC’s 20th annual CEO Survey, one primary concern of most CEOs (77 percent of them, to be precise) is that incoming new hires don’t have the key skills necessary to succeed in their new positions. Therefore, students should detail in their cover letters both their credentials and the skills they accrued while acquiring those credentials – for example, improved collaboration, proficiency in a specific software application, strong time management and more.
“Students need the ability to easily access their credentials.”
Of course, it helps if students can easily and quickly access their credentials in a secure location. The more easily students can acquire this information, the more likely they are to include it in their cover letters. When helping students write their cover letters, make sure they know where and how to find their credentials, and even how to direct potential employers to verified copies.
Myth No. 3: Cover letters avoid mention of workplace culture
If you’ve paid attention to recent hiring strategies or even read a few job listings, you’ll have noticed that many employers focus on concepts like free snacks or meals, creative workspaces and volunteer days. The idea is that promoting certain perks creates a compelling culture that attracts top-qualified applicants. What’s more, businesses finally understand that a strong office culture increases employee engagement, which can lead to higher productivity and reduced turnover.
If you know the company or school to which a student is applying emphasizes a specific branding idea or company culture, encourage that individual to explain what makes them a great fit. This shouldn’t take up the bulk of the cover letter, but a brief paragraph helps hiring managers get a greater sense of a candidate and imagine them in a specific role.
As today’s graduating students face important decisions about their futures, they need every advantage to help them gain the best opportunities. By providing access to their credentials and helping them adapt their cover letters to meet modern employer-held expectations, you give your students the best possible chance of finding a fantastic job after college.
Parchment makes it easy for students and alumni to access and send their credentials. See how partnering with us improves learners’ success!
The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is going into their second year and the number of colleges participating has grown from 45 to 133 (with more to come!) As more and more of your students are applying to Coalition App schools, it’s so easy to send and receive transcripts using Parchment. Here are the three simple steps to sending and receiving with The Coalition App.
Applicants Check the Box
When students at schools using Parchment fill out the Coalition Application, they’ll check the box to indicate that they’ll be sending their transcripts to you another way. Their transcripts will be sent directly to Coalition Application members using the same workflow and experience they use for colleges in general.
Students then go ahead and place their order through Parchment, selecting the Coalition App school as a destination:
Counselors Process as They Do Today
Student requests will arrive and be processed electronically by high school counselors just as they were previously. With no change to your process whether the student is sending to a Coalition or non-Coalition school, you won’t have to spend time making adjustments. It’s a good thing!
Receive in Your Parchment Inbox
College receivers will continue to receive electronic admissions documents just as they do today. Basic receivers download all high-resolution transcript PDFs with one click. Premium receivers can go further and automate the indexing process with transcript PDFs and an index file of student data.
If you have questions or need any help sending or receiving with the Coalition App, contact us!
As we go through our lives, we collect official records. One of our first sets of official records come out of our high school experience: transcripts, diplomas, letters of recommendation, IEPs, etc.
Parchment has developed a platform that makes it easy for high school or district registrars and counselors to manage all of the official records for current and alumni students.
As records move from paper systems to electronic, it can be overwhelming to decide which system is best for you. What is the student ordering experience like? Is there a lot of work the administrator needs to do? How confusing will this be?
We know you have some concerns about exploring new systems. But our Buyers Guide breaks it all down and will help you explore and evaluate student record management systems.
Learn How to:
- Manage All of Your Records
- Allow Anyone to Order (Students, Alumni, Parents, and Third Parties!)
- 3 Simple Steps: Order – Review – Fulfill
- And more features important to you!
Have you put an OrderLink on your website yet? What are you waiting for? It’s the handy way to get your students to your high school’s ordering page. After all, there’s more than one “Central High” in the US – the OrderLink keeps confusion out of the equation!
Now that your learners, parents and third parties can order any official record using Parchment, we’ve made a small update to the appearance of the OrderLink button.
The image has been updated automatically – there’s nothing for you to do!
Meet the Updated OrderLink Button
Now the OrderLink will highlight these two important points:
First, that any record can be ordered! As an administrator, you can determine which records you want to make available.
Second, that anyone can begin their order following this button. Direct students, parents, or third parties to follow this link and begin to place their order.
It also has a similar size and appearance so that it won’t disrupt your web page design:
Add the OrderLink
If you haven’t added the OrderLink to your site yet – what are you waiting for? It’s simple, and makes a big difference for your students!
- Log In
- Navigate to Settings -> Ordering
- Copy the OrderLink code is at the bottom of the page
- Paste code into all of your web pages that cover ordering official records
Please let your account executive know if you have any questions!
Students are swarming your halls once more! It’s exciting to have them back with all of their energy, laughter, and excitement about the year ahead of them. But in a few weeks, they’ll start knocking on your door wondering how they order their transcripts (and other records too!)
Be ready to answer these questions quickly and easily with these two resources:
Hang A Poster
Download or order a free printed poster and hang it prominently in your office. Then when students come in and start asking … you can just direct them to the instructional poster. Many schools have a computer there in the office so students can place their order right there.
Print or Email How-To Handouts
For step-by-step instructions, provide this handout to students. There are links embedded in the document, so they can access the sign in page, the help center and more. It can also be printed and put on the counter for students who come into the office looking for answers. This is a perfect document to send to students, or link to on your website, to help make ordering records a breeze.
Tip: Parchment will continue to keep this document updated. So if things change, we’ll make sure the instructions always match what students will see. So it’s a good idea to use this URL, so you’ll know you’re always up to date!
Don’t forget to sign up for Training! We released some enhancements this summer – you’ll want to get up to speed on all of the new features. (Like canceling orders, woohoo!)
The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s Annual conference (NACAC) is coming September 14-16 in Boston, MA. Parchment will be there helping you connect with K12 counselors and admissions officers … and winning big while you do it!
Stop by the Parchment Booth (#655) to get your flair and then return with your match so you’ll both be entered to win. Every visit back to our booth with someone you connect with enters you into our raffle for a $400 Amazon Gift Card.
Don’t miss our panel with K12 Counselor extraordinaire, Tessa Barbazon from Fulton County Schools in Georgia and Brad Hostetler, Asst Director of Admissions at Ball State University. They’ll talk about how working with your exchange partners makes the admissions process easier!
THE SECRET EDGE IN THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS: IN-CYCLE DATA AND DIGITAL RECORDS
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Location: Exhibit Hall C LEARN Booth
We’re so excited to see you! If you or anyone on your team is heading to Boston, make sure to stop by our booth for prizes, some bling, and an immediate improvement to how you handle all of your academic records.
We’ll see you in Boston!
The signature event for those interested in the future of academic credentials, Parchment Connect National 2018, is now open for registration. You will not want to miss this opportunity to connect with K12 counselors, Admissions Offices, Employers, and University Registrars and Records Managers. Each year, attendees rave about the networking opportunities, lessons learned, and information gathered. You definitely do not want to miss it!
March 24-25, 2018
Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
Save 50%: Early Bird Registration
Time & Place
This year, we’ve realigned with AACRAO Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, to make it easier for people already planning on AACRAO to join us for Parchment Connect National. Immediately preceding AACRAO, March 24 – noon March 25, you’ll be able to participate in all of the kick off events for AACRAO. We want you to arrive in style, so we’ll be providing a convenient shuttle to the Orlando World Center Marriott at the conclusion of the conference!
Parchment Connect National will be held at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Learn more about the super-low room-rate and all of the other logistics on our Travel & Transportation page.
Share Your Story!
The best part of Parchment Connect National is hearing the real-world experiences of our members. We have so many people who are doing amazing things. Whether you are just starting out with digital credentials or you’re ready for new frontiers, having this conference opportunity to connect with more than 200 of your peers will help you get the information you need to effortlessly.
Sharing the work you’re doing is a key part of Parchment Connect National. Members from across the country struggle with similar issues and will benefit from your expertise. Now is the time to share your challenges, successes, explorations, and interests. The conference needs you to be a success!
We’re seeking proposals that would support one of these topics:
- Blockchain and the future of verified credentials
- Analytics in the Registrar’s office
- Gauging your learner’s satisfaction and annual reporting
- Digital diplomas and creating a cohesive learner experience
- Comprehensive student records
- Digital Diplomas and the future of the apostille
- International students and verifying their credentials
- How your peers are perfecting credential exchange and empowering their learners!
Accepted proposals get free registration and hotel stay on March 24!
Share Your Story!
Nominate Your Peers!
You guys are pretty awesome. Everyone should know about this!
This year, we’re celebrating the dreamers and the doers in our community with our first peer-nominated Award Ceremony.
Get your peer (or yourself, because you’re also pretty darn amazing) nominated today!
We’re so excited to see you in Orlando in 2018!
Do you have a storeroom that makes you cringe? You have nothing to be ashamed of! More than half the schools in the nation have rooms on their campus bursting at the seams with stored documents. However, being part of a very large group doesn’t make it any easier when a former student wants one of those records. Veritable days could be lost combing through folders and boxes! You’ve had a project to digitize your legacy records on your wish list for a long time. Don’t keep putting off digitizing your paper legacy student transcripts, we can help. It’s easy to move your paper alumni records to Parchment, repurpose that old file room, and take the headache (and the walk down the hall!) out of helping your students out.
Why now? Well, outside of summer being a great time to tackle a project, there are significant security risks when handling money or accepting credit card numbers via mail, fax and email. When the ordering moves online, all of the fee collection happens in a secure and PCI compliant way. (Wouldn’t it be great to not have to deal with the hassle of making change and cashing checks?)
Parchment has a long history of making credentials digital, and we know the security and care that must be taken with them. Converting your paper alumni records to digital helps you preserve your irreplaceable records forever!
Tackling the storeroom
Getting started is a lot easier than you might expect. You can send a sample box to Parchment and we can sort through it to determine what credentials you have – and what you’d like to digitize.
Our team can work with you to scan and index key student information so the records can be ordered and fulfilled electronically. Everything from student achievement records, transcripts, verifications, diplomas … or any thing else the storeroom might hold!
Here’s how it works:
- Simply send a sample box of intact records to Parchment. (No torn, faded or oversize documents.)
- Our FERPA-trained staff digitizes them and provides you with secure PDFs that include seven key data points: first name, middle name, last name, date of birth, student ID, last 4 digits of SSN and graduation year.
- Both you and Parchment QA review the PDFs from the sample box. Then we’ll proceed with digitizing all the student records you provided.
- Store the records in our Credentials Library. (We’ll shred your paper documents or send them back to you, whichever you prefer.)
Scan & Index is extremely flexible, allowing you to create a solution for digitizing and managing all of your paper records quickly and efficiently. Let Parchment know what your goals are for going digital!