K12 Counselors, Get Ready for Summer in Four Simple Steps

School’s … Out … For … Summer! (Almost.)

But before you take your well-deserved break, we recommend you complete these four easy tasks.

  1. Update the information for all the administrators on your account. New staff member? Someone leaving or moving to a new position? Get that squared away before you hit the pool!
  2. Watch our two-minute video about the latest upgrades for Parchment 7. Hint: Parchment will now support ALL your academic records (letters of recommendation, immunization records, verifications and more). Plus we’ve enhanced the look, feel and functionality of the product.
  3. Sign up for a one-hour training session. We know this is an extremely busy time for you. That’s why we’re offering a flexible training schedule, with dates added weekly. If you have time now, we’re here. If you have to wait until after summer, we’ll be available then, too, to ensure a successful transition to the new system.
  4. Make it really easy for your students to order by putting the OrderLink on your page. Visit the Parchment help center for step-by-step instructions:

We hope you enjoy your summer break. You’ve earned it! And thank you for being a Parchment member.

Parchment Roadmap: A Digital Platform for Turning Credentials into Opportunities

To our members, employees and partners,

At Parchment, our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities. The Parchment platform transforms credentials from paper to digital, and in doing so enables credential issuers to innovate the form and function of their credentials at a time of great need in our knowledge-based economy and society.

We use the term “platform” thoughtfully, reflecting how our technology connects the different stakeholders who participate in a credentialing ecosystem: issuers, receivers, and most importantly, learners. The term also reflects the ability of our technology to enable learners to access, collect and put to work the academic and professional credentials they earn throughout their lives.

Initially we developed the Parchment platform to support academic transcripts. The Parchment transcript network enables millions of enrollments at member high schools and universities to request, collect and deliver their digital transcripts to pursue admissions, licensing and employment opportunities. In 2016 we transacted more than 8.7 million credentials, representing a 40% annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2011.

The Next Step in Realizing Our Vision

Today, I’m proud to announce that we are taking another step towards realizing our vision by adding digital certificates and diplomas to the Parchment platform. We are bringing these academic credential types into the digital, portable and social world seamlessly, without introducing new terminology and concepts. We are excited that Parchment is now the first true multi-credential digital platform.

The addition of these new credential types is just part of the story. The launch of our new Parchment Award services for diplomas and certificates also puts the learner credential profile front and center. The credential profile allows students and alumni to manage and share their credentials securely, collected from across the Parchment network.

Put simply, our expanded digital credentialing platform enables learners and institutions to collect, verify and share any digital credential. It’s a milestone for us, so allow me to share more and put it into the context of our broader roadmap.

Three Enablers for Turning Credentials Into Opportunities

In a recent blog post, Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky described three key technology enablers that help make Parchment’s mission a reality. Our roadmap is laser focused on delivering those enablers for our institutional members and their individual learners:

  • First, credentials must be issued digitally with machine-readable data. Only digital credentials with data are truly actionable.
  • Second, institutions must leverage the inherent benefits of digitization to innovate the form and function of their credentials.
  • Third, digital credentials should be truly portable, collected and controlled by the learner through a unified interface across the places where they learned.

As a company, these are the north stars that guide our product development, and it is our privilege to bring them to life. The Parchment credential management platform is how we get there, serving three distinct stakeholders: the learner, the issuer and the receiver. Much like a three-legged stool, each stakeholder group has a role to play.  

What Learners Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for learners is to provide a secure, unified experience for requesting, collecting, delivering and displaying their official academic credentials. We are investing in Parchment.com so that learners may create a comprehensive online portfolio of their verified credentials in one secure place. To that end, over the past 18 months we have:

  • Enhanced Parchment.com to include a credential profile, a personal vault of digital credentials, that supports not just digital transcripts but also digital diplomas and certificates. The credential profile expands on the credential request and delivery features that are the core of Parchment’s consumer services.
  • Developed new integrations to make it easy for learners to promote and verify their credentials on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Improved the core tools that allow learners to order their credentials through a modern, mobile-optimized experience, and to track their requests, both electronic deliveries and those we print and mail.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the learner focuses on refining and extending the credential profile, especially with digital diplomas and certificates. As today’s mobile learners accumulate educational credentials from multiple sources, Parchment’s credential profile will be there for learners to collect, share and analyze their credentials across all those institutions.

Our institutional members using the Parchment 7 platform (all high schools and some higher education institutions) already have this entire experience available to their students and alumni. Our Parchment 6 members (most of our higher education institutions) will be able to offer this experience to their learners by the end of 2017.

What Issuers Need and What We Will Provide

Job number one for issuers is to securely automate the request and delivery of their credentials. Yes, our goal for issuers begins with  the movement of paper-based credential request and fulfillment to digital.  From there, we want digital credentials to support key innovations in the content and format of credentials, better serving learners in admissions and employment. Finally, we are excited to support our members as they experiment with new formats and credential types (e.g., competency and experiential transcripts). To that end, we have:

  • Transformed our transcript-centric credentials services into a true multi-credential management platform that allows members to issue all types of digital credentials. We now support many different kinds of transcripts (academic, co-curricular, experiential and competency based), as well as unique features for digital diplomas and certificates.
  • Created security mechanisms for embedding metadata in all issued credentials to make sure they’re 100 percent verifiable using Adobe blue-ribbon technology.  
  • Allowed delivery of credentials in standards-based, machine-readable data to increase operating efficiencies and allow receivers of credentials to act on them much faster.

Looking forward, our roadmap for the issuer focuses on a variety of initiatives. We will:

  • Support comprehensive student record initiatives by enabling many newer/standardized formats of experiential and competency-based credentials. These innovative credentials will allow attributes that make them much more useful for employers and allow learners to stack them to promote lifelong learning.
  • Expand Parchment 6 automation options to members using the Parchment 7 platform as we bring the best of both of these platforms to all of our members. We’ll also further enhance these automations to get machine readable data in standard formats such as PESC XML.
  • Support for all 36 of the Liaison International Common Application Services (CAS) including NursingCAS, PharmCAS, et. al.
  • Enable registrars working with continuing education, single schools, multiple schools and school districts to better customize and personalize their workflows.
  • Deliver easy ways for Parchment Send members to accept requests from third parties such as background-check companies and employers. (We already allow Parchment Receive members to request credentials from learners of Parchment 7 members.)
  • Lead the charge to enable vendor-independent electronic data exchange of credentials by supporting the development and adoption of open standards such as PESC EdExchange.
  • Expand the scale and scope of our analytics exponentially to include how credentials are being used, trends in where credentials are being delivered, which social media are being used to share credentials and the reach/impact of such social sharing.

What Parchment Award Will Provide for Issuers

Parchment Award enhances the Parchment credentials management platform and allows organizations to have a new workflow of “Award/Claim/Share.” This adds significant new capabilities to our platform, especially allowing us to mass issue certificates and diplomas to learners. They can then claim the credentials on Parchment.com and share them on social media such as facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to showcase their achievements.

What Receivers Need and What We Will Provide

Our goal for receivers is to allow admissions offices and employers to benefit from the efficiencies and insights that digital credentials provide. We want receivers spending time on candidate evaluation, not credential collection and processing. To that end, we have:

  • Provided a unified inbox to collect all incoming documents, whether sent using Parchment’s network or other services such as Naviance, SPEEDE, CHESSIC and BridgeU.
  • Enabled the electronic delivery and seamless processing of digital credentials as data, not just as a PDF image, eliminating paper documents, increasing operational efficiency and decreasing time to admissions or hiring decisions.

Looking forward, our roadmap for receivers will address a number of key issues. We will:

  • Expand the unified inbox with additional partners so that receivers can benefit from seamless electronic inbound processing regardless of the technology used by a credential issuer.
  • Improve integration with enrollment technologies and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems such as Banner Document Management System (BDMS), Slate and Hyland OnBase.
  • Lead the charge for a vendor-independent exchange by supporting development of open standards, such as the PESC EdExchange.
  • Provide the ability to mine the data, enabling admissions offices to promote institutional brand and facilitate recruitment.

The Journey Continues

It’s a great responsibility to be the technology platform that helps facilitate such important transitions in the lives of learners, from high school to college and beyond. While we have come a long way from the days when we only digitized high school transcripts for college admissions, our roadmap makes it clear we have still have a long way to go.

We are adding support for secure, digital diplomas and certificates today, and in future releases, we will continue to expand to all types of academic credentials (and eventually professional credentials). The Parchment credential management platform connects the dots between learners, issuers, and receivers as they progress through every stage of education and career.  

Which brings us back to our mission. In it we say Parchment helps turn credentials into opportunities. We include this qualifier because technology is not the universal solvent for education. It is the network of school and university members, and their learners, that turn credentials into opportunities. We are proud and humbled of the role we play in this.

In the future, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts that explain the technical underpinnings of the platform and how you can get started using it.

Rajeev Arora, Sr. Vice President of Product Parchment Inc.

You’ve Got Status! K12 Member Status Program is Here

Just like a frequent flier program, K12 counselors and registrars can get rewarded for the work you’re already doing. The more transcripts (or other records!) you send electronically for your students using Parchment, the higher you’ll climb in our status tiers. And that can mean big prizes for you, efficiency for you students and staff and best of all: happier students!

With four status tiers: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, K12 Counselors and registrars will automatically receive gift cards as they move up the tiers. Get tips on how to move up, and when you move up the digital record experience for you and your students soars.

Access the Status Program

From Your Monthly Email:
  • After logging into your Parchment Account, click the “View Full Profile” in your monthly status email. It will take you directly to your Profile.
  • From the help center:
  • After logging into your Parchment Account, click Support -> Parchment Send -> Status Program
  • Member-Status-AccessfromHelp

    Your Status Profile is chock full of information!

    On the left hand side, you’ll see content tailored to your Status Tier, enabling you to climb higher in the program and be eligible for more rewards.


    At the bottom, you have easy access to email your Account Executive, Call Support or Sign Up for Training.

    The member status program provides our high schools with real-time analytics that they’ve never had access to before. We hope your’e excited to see how you stack up!

    Featured Member: Charlotte Melton

    [divider-heading]George Washington High School, Danville VA[/divider-heading]
    Charlotte Melton - Sm

    Cancer survivor, George Washington High School alum and former medical records director, Charlotte Melton is instrumental in the lives of her students. As this month’s featured member, learn what inspires her and how she’s making sure her students are successful.

    Tell us a little bit about George Washington High School and your Role

    I have been employed with Danville Public Schools since 2001, and have been working at G.W. for 15 years. I am responsible for preparing transcripts and maintaining student records. I oversee the grade reporting process and printing of quarterly report cards. In addition to serving as the school’s office manager, I also assist GW Athletics with eligibility verification of student-athletes. I help coordinate graduation, school pictures, and blood drives.

    What inspired you to choose a profession in the field of Education?

    Being a proud ‘95 alum of George Washington High School, I wanted the opportunity to give back to the school that prepared me and encouraged me to pursue a career in business. Initially, I was in healthcare as the medical records director for a nursing facility, but after switching to education, I found that having a background in records management definitely prepared me for the task of managing student records.

    What do you find most gratifying about the work you do?

    I LOVE working at my alma mater and being an alum allows me the opportunity to share my school spirit with the students. I believe it is important to encourage our youth to take part of something bigger than themselves and feel a sense of community. Taking pride in something helps you also have pride in yourself. I’m a breast cancer survivor and when I was diagnosed in 2010, my Eagle family was there for me. Their love, support and encouragement helped me overcome. I am who I am because of time spent in these hallowed halls. Being at GW is gratifying because my goal is to make some kind of impact or impart some little piece of wisdom in my graduating seniors.

    How long has George Washington High School been using Parchment and what do you feel are the key benefits of the solution to the institution and its learners?

    GW went live with Parchment in June 2016 and having the summer to become acquainted with Parchment was really beneficial. Current and noncurrent learners have the ease of requesting and paying for their transcripts online and tracking their transcripts to their requested institutions. This I have found to be really important in scenarios where a college says they didn’t receive a transcript and you can reference that they did, using the DID#.

    What advice do you have for institutions new to using Parchment?

    EMBRACE CHANGE! I find that the longer a particular system has been in place, the harder it is for some to transition to something new. Yes, the idea of scanning and uploading so many files is daunting, but don’t fret! Sketch out a system of archiving noncurrent graduate transcripts, starting with your most recent graduating class. Our school system uses PowerSchool, so exporting student information rosters and transcripts was simple, and the import/upload process to Parchment was expedient. For archived transcripts that are hard copy only, I simply process those on an “as-needed” basis: upload their transcript to Parchment, enter their Learner information, document their file as having been uploaded to Parchment, and back in storage it goes. Now it is permanently archived on Parchment and readily accessible for the next time the Learner needs it. It takes me longer to file back the files I have pulled than it does to scan & upload to Parchment.

    How do you inform students about Parchment?

    I introduced current learners to Parchment during their first week of school assemblies, mainly focusing on the senior class, but encouraging all students to register and familiarize themselves with Parchment and the transcript ordering process. Instructions on how to request transcripts and links to tutorial videos for Parchment are posted on the GWHS website. “Transcripts are now available ONLINE at Parchment.com” prints on office envelopes, we have flyers on the counter for when we have walk-ins and we refer any callers to Parchment.com. I even have a link in my email signature.

    Tell us a little about your life outside work

    My husband, Rob, and I have been married for 10 years and we are the proud parents of two children, Bobby, 7 and Samantha, 2. My kids are my life outside of work, and most of my hobbies and interests relate to them. Bobby is my rockstar and inspiration to keep going no matter what the odds. He has a dual-diagnosis of Down Syndrome with Autism and was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, that required bypass surgery when he was seven-days old and open heart repair surgery when he was six-months old. Bobby teaches us to see the world from his perspective and when he lets you behind the veil that separates Bobby from his autism, you are left with a moment so precious, your heart just bursts. Samantha, who is my miracle child after breast cancer and chemotherapy, is your typical two-year old, and my mini-me. Every thing I thought I knew about being a mother was chucked out the window when she came along, but oh my, has she taught me so much about being the mother I was meant to be. I love being their mother and that is my real life’s work. In my downtime, I like to curl up with a cup of coffee and a Stephen King novel. I am also quite the Yahtzee player.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    Not only am I a Parchment Sender/Institution, I am also a Learner! Being the parent of a child with special needs, enduring my life experiences, and loving my job at GW has inspired me to further my education and career. I am pursuing my Master’s in Counseling with Licensure, so I can one day become a GWHS guidance counselor.


    We’re so happy that Charlotte and the rest of the George Washington High School team are Parchment members! Meet more members of the Parchment family every month in our Newsletters.

    If you’d like to suggest a friend or colleague for us to highlight, please let your Account Executive know!

    The Relationship Between Parchment and Naviance

    One of the most common questions we hear from our K12 members is, “What is Parchment’s relationship with Naviance and Naviance eDocs?” In this blog we’re going to explain Parchment’s relationship. As you read this, the biggest take away for you to know is that Parchment and Naviance are different companies offering distinct services, and that Naviance eDocs does not use Parchment technology to send admissions documents.

    In every electronic admissions document delivery, there are two sides: the high school that is sending the documents, and the admissions office that is receiving the documents. Parchment competes with Naviance for sending high school admissions documents, while at the same time, Parchment partners with Naviance to enable admissions offices to receive documents from both services. Even though we compete, we want it to be easy for admissions offices to receive and process incoming documents from multiple high school services through a common interface.  The technology world has a term for situations where an organization partners and competes with another organization, “Coopetition.” In the case of electronic delivery of admissions documents, Coopetition makes sense, ensuring both choice and interoperability.

    Receiving With a Parchment Unified Inbox

    Since 2014, Parchment has engaged in a strategic partnership with Naviance to allow Parchment to be one of the receiving mechanisms Naviance uses to deliver electronic admissions documents to colleges and universities. The Parchment technology that enables this is called the Parchment Unified Inbox.

    The Parchment Unified Inbox experience makes it easier and more efficient for receivers to collect and work with their incoming documents electronically. In addition to the network of 3,700+ high schools and colleges that use Parchment to send admissions documents to Parchment Receivers, the Unified Inbox collects documents from organizations such as:

    Documents coming from each of these sending organizations can arrive into a central interface we call the Parchment Unified Inbox, letting the admissions office download and work with them easily. Students benefit from document status updates and high school staff get the peace-of-mind that students’ academic credentials are received and acknowledged by admissions offices. The admissions offices get the benefit of one technology interface and experience through which they can process admissions documents from multiple services.

    Sending With Parchment

    On the sending side of electronic admissions documents, Parchment and Naviance are distinct companies that offer different service experiences based on their own technologies.

    Some high schools use eDocs to send their admissions documents. Some use a combination of Parchment and eDocs (for example: current students are handled with eDocs, while alumni are handled with Parchment). And some high schools choose to use Parchment instead of eDocs.

    Schools that choose to use Parchment to handle processing transcripts and other documents tell us that the easy-to-use platform is a game-changer. Here are a few of the reasons they decide Parchment is a good fit for them:

    • No expensive software licensing fees! A dedicated best-in-class document management solution for a fraction of what it costs to license eDocs.
    • Support current students AND alumni. Upload and process all admissions documents, including letters of recommendation, in 3 easy steps. And support all of your alumni orders too!
    • Happy students. A student-centric experience that provides end-to-end document tracking, student ordering, and a credential profile that can be used to collect other credentials (like diplomas, or college transcripts) throughout their pursuit of lifelong learning.
    • Send to ANY global destination! With Parchment you can send electronically anywhere in the world, including Common App, Coalition Application, or the NCAA.
    • No need to spend time and money on print and mail. Parchment can print and mail for you in those cases when paper is still preferred. How great is that?

    Parchment is focused on creating a simple and secure platform to order, send, and track the sending and receiving of records. For schools that are looking for a way to automate the record request and fulfillment process, Parchment offers a comprehensive sending solution, avoiding a heavy price tag for features your counseling office doesn’t use.

    Because Parchment and Naviance eDocs compete as high school sending services and partner to enable simpler university receiving, it’s not surprising that high schools have asked questions over the years about our relationship. Hopefully this blog has helped clarify how Parchment competes with Naviance eDocs and also how we partner. Please let us know if have questions or comments below!

    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

    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/

    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.

    Choosing the Right College in Today’s Economy

    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.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.


    1. http://www.epi.org/publication/the-class-of-2015/

    Back to School: 3 Tips For High School Engagement

    With the school year approaching fast, you’ll want to get started using Parchment if you haven’t already. There are three elements to using Parchment successfully.

    First, you’ll want to get familiar with Registration Codes and the student ordering process. We’ve designed it not only to reduce stress, but also to improve accuracy for everyone using the system.

    Next, you’ll want to learn how Parchment handles student rosters. Importing your list of active students is easy and makes it possible to later upload transcripts and other documents in batches.

    Finally, while Parchment is a highly efficient system, you’ll want to quickly review the workings of the Credential Library for those times when you’ll need to correct a mistake or otherwise manually update a student’s records. The Credential Library is where you keep up-to-date student records in Parchment.

    1. Getting started with ordering. First, you’ll want to embed a button or text link that allows students to access Parchment directly from your school’s website. Why? Having a custom link reduces the chances of a student choosing a school with the same name but which is located in a different state. To setup your custom link, log in and from the dashboard go to settings, then the “Ordering” tab, and “ordering setup.” From there you can choose the look and feel of the Parchment page for your school, including adding a logo. This is the page students will see when registering for Parchment, and later, ordering documents.
    2. Importing student rosters, and why you need them. Once you have a roster of all students in your Student Information System (SIS), you’ll want to export them to Excel in a comma separated value (CSV) format. Parchment accepts five key identifiers when importing: first name, last name, student ID number, birth date, and graduation year. Your SIS may also allow for including student email addresses, though it isn’t necessary to have that information when first importing a roster. Instead, locate the downloaded CSV file and find the “Learners” tab in your Parchment dashboard. Click “manage learners” and then select “upload multiple learners” to add your file. Parchment will then create your roster, and from there you can invite any learners who haven’t yet registered for the system using custom registration codes. (You can email invites to students whose email addresses you have, or print invites for those you don’t. Either way, they’ll be registering their unique registration codes through the custom site you created in step 1.)
    3. How to use the Credential Library. Once you upload an updated roster, you can add new transcripts in one of two ways. You can either upload directly from the web, selecting “add credentials” at the “Credentials Library” tab and then selecting the file that contains the latest transcripts. Or, you can use the Parchment print driver — called the “Docufide Secure Transcript” — to send a file of transcripts to the system directly, just as if you were printing a file. In either case, Parchment always replaces old transcripts with the newest versions, matching them to the students identified in your roster. In the rare case where a document can’t be matched automatically, clicking on the Credentials Library and selecting the document in question — and then clicking on the name of the student it applies to — reveals an option to match the transcript manually. We suggest using the upload method you are accustomed to.    

    Then again, you may not have to do anything when it comes to uploading and tracking transcripts. Some schools have already assigned their IT teams to develop a technical integration with Parchment, in which transcripts are automatically pushed into the system at the end of every semester or other grading period. Check with school officials before taking any unnecessary steps when implementing Parchment at your school.

    Still have questions? We’ve uploaded a webinar and tutorial hosted by Parchment account managers. Everything you need to know about getting started with Parchment you’ll find available to you in that webinar, whenever you need it!

    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.


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