3 New Year’s Eve Resolutions For Registrars’ Offices

2017 is quickly coming to a close, and 2018 preparations are well under way. As your office gets ready for a new semester and a new year, it’s good to set some concrete rules for how you’ll operate going forward. We always make New Year’s resolutions to improve our personal lives, so why not our professional lives as well? After all, don’t we all deserve to breathe a little easier in the office next year? Here are three resolutions to help you do just that:

1. ‘I will escape the trap of paper-only systems.’

Working in a registrar’s office, your weekdays are filled with request after request from students. With the class of 2018 spending the semester looking at post-graduation options – first-time jobs, graduate school, etc. – many of these requests will involve transcripts and diplomas. In a paper-only setting, your office can easily become overwhelmed by all the documents you need to send and receive, making it highly likely that someone’s request will fall through the cracks. 

Switching to a digital system alleviates a lot of that strain. No longer do you have to search through cabinets full of files and mail things by hand. Instead, the system does everything for you, automatically pulling student records and sending them to their destinations in an instant. Convenient, no?

2. ‘I will ensure my office puts learners first.’

Have you noticed that the standard process of sending transcripts makes students very nervous? There’s rarely any delivery tracking, so students anxiously await news from the recipient that their credentials made it to their destination. Since mail takes anywhere from a few days to a week or more, your students are left in the dark leading to more questions for your office.

With digital credentials, that worried feeling completely disappears. Their transcripts are immediately sent wherever they need to go, regardless of whether the recipient is within the school’s destination network or not.

In fact, it helps to have a third-party service with a large network of academic and professional institutions within reach, thereby completely relieving you of the burden of credentials. That said, be sure to choose a provider that also sends physical records with USPS or FedEx tracking, just in case students send their credentials to destinations that only want paper.

3. ‘I will make sure our transcripts are accurate and protect the authenticity of the school.’

Digital credentials like eTranscripts aren’t new, but schools have been very reluctant to adopt them. According to a survey from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, one of the primary reasons for avoiding digital is integrity concerns. Many school officials are afraid that digital transcripts and diplomas can be altered more easily than paper ones.

In actuality, digital credentials are safer than their traditional counterparts. Parchment, for example, sends verified PDFs that alert recipients if and when the information inside has been altered.

Make your office run smoothly in 2018 by offering eTranscripts and other digital credentials. Take a load off your mind and learn how Parchment can successfully work with your school to improve your office and the lives of your students.

Accio Transcripts: Magic Isn’t Better Than Digital Credentials

Everyone who’s read or watched the “Harry Potter” series asks the same question: Why, in a world where magic is real, do witches and wizards still rely on paper and quills? If people can shape-shift into cats, shouldn’t they be able to draft any document out of thin air? Why does Hogwarts seem determined to stay in the middle ages?

Keep in mind that if you haven’t adopted digital credentials at your institution, students are probably asking the same thing about your school.

In fact, when it comes to student credentials, digital is always the way to go. It beats anything that Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons could ever hope to offer. Here’s how digital credentials give your students the magic of the future without chaining them to the past:

Delivery more secure than owl post

One of the most memorable scenes in the “Harry Potter” movies involves the wizarding world’s famous owl post. Harry’s uncle, Vernon Dursley, keeps intercepting the young wizard’s Hogwarts acceptance letters. At one point, the school is forced to flood the house with letters, sending thousands of them through the fireplace, doors and windows. 

This isn’t the only time in the series that owls are prevented from delivering important letters. With digital credentials, the idea of missed delivery vanishes like a mischievous student under an invisibility cloak. Students can securely send their transcripts to schools or potential employers with a few mouse clicks and can rest easy knowing their credentials will always arrive at their destination. In this case, an electronic transcript exchange is a lot faster than an owl.

If, however, students want to send their transcripts through the mail, a digital credential service can do that for them and offer tracking to ensure no letter is ever missed.

Parchment-IMG-12-12-01

Verification, not transfiguration

Students at Hogwarts learn to transfigure mice into teacups, so who’s to say they can’t change a daisy into a diploma? J.K. Rowling never talked much about magical cheating, but surely some clever students must have found ways to forge their test grades.

No need for you to worry about fraudulent diplomas and transcripts when you’ve got digital credentials. Every document is delivered as a certified PDF and adorned with your school’s logo, so recipients know it’s the real deal. Plus, if your students choose to send paper credentials, the right service will print out their diplomas, transcripts and more on secure paper for extra fraud prevention. 

Records that withstand an attack on Hogwarts

The Reparo spell can fix just about anything – except for damage from Fiendfyre, an inferno created from Dark Magic. Imagine if all of Hogwarts’ records were consumed by this deadly blaze.

A normal fire can do the same to your school’s paper records, which is big trouble for your students and hinders your legal compliance. But digital records are stored in the cloud, meaning you can always access them no matter what sort of disaster hits. Dealing with flood from a hurricane – or perhaps destruction from a raging troll? The paper copies may be damaged, but you’ll still have your digital credentials. 

Better than magic

Your students may not be getting their Hogwarts letters, but their future will be more magical with digital credentials. Their diplomas, transcripts and other documents aren’t just signs of completed courses – they’re gateways to amazing opportunities. By giving students easy access to proof of their experiences, you arm them with the tools necessary to enter their dream school or job.

Want to know more about how digital credentials help your students succeed? Contact Parchment today

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.

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



SOURCING:

  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.

 

SOURCING:

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

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

Whether you’re counseling students still in high school or plotting strategy with thirty-somethings on the way to finishing graduate school, transcripts will follow them to the next stage of their academic and professional careers.

You can help them by better understanding how schools, employers, and government agencies use transcripts to make decisions. Below is a closer look at the general consumption habits of these groups, as well as the top receivers of Parchment transcripts in each.

Educational Institutions

Aside from letters of recommendation, the academic transcript is the most important document that crosses an administrator’s desk. Executive Director for Enrollment Management at Eastern Kentucky University Dr. Brett Morris recently shared with us the 10 things every high school counselor should tell their students about transcripts – so ensure your students are hitting these marks. Admissions teams generally use the data within to make determinations about the likely success of prospective university students.

In the last 12 months, these schools have received a combined total of more than 292,000 transcripts through Parchment:

  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Maryland  – College Park
  • Arizona State University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison

While these schools are different in their size and specialties, Parchment data shows that thousands of students are interested in these institutions. Nearly 10,000 are tracking Michigan State, for example.

Employers

While a transcript isn’t a must-have for employment in the same way that it is for gaining entry into a program of higher learning, hundreds of companies use transcripts to better understand how a new hire might perform on the job.

What are they looking for? A 2012 study published in the Chronicle of Higher Education found that choice of major and the workplace relevance of coursework matters more to employers than a high GPA.

“Work experience is the crucial attribute that employers want, even for students who have yet to work full-time,” said Wharton professor Peter Cappelli, commenting on the study in a 2014 article in The Atlantic.

How do transcripts help employers determine experience for a student whose resume is barren? Skilled managers can sometimes infer prior training and relative competency if the job in question involves skills taught in school. High performance in relevant coursework can be particularly telling in that sense.

The following employers are top receivers of Parchment transcripts:

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

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

Government Agencies

Trust is crucial when it comes to government work, and as recent history proves it’s too easy to lie on a resume. For example, in 2012, a hedge fund manager revealed that then-Yahoo! chief executive Scott Thompson had never earned the computer science degree he had claimed on his C.V.

Not surprisingly, some agencies and military branches hedge against this type of cheating by asking candidates to supply an official transcript through Parchment. They include:

  • United States Army
  • NASA
  • United States Department of State

Whether it’s to get into a school, find a job, or start a career in government service, transcripts are an increasingly popular tool for evaluating and verifying credentials. Is your institution using Parchment to share data like the others on the list? Leave a comment with your story. And if not, here’s where to learn more.

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.

 

South Carolina High School Earns $10,000 Parchment Scholarship

It pays to partner with Parchment. Just ask Teasha Gibson Ed.S, NBCT, counselor at Spring Valley High School. Her school has been using Parchment for nearly seven years and their success during the 2015-16 school year has earned a $10,000 Parchment student scholarship!

Introduced in the 2015-16 school year, the Parchment Member Status Program rewards counselors, administrators, learners and their schools for their hard work.  Schools earn rewards based on how frequently they engage with Parchment services. More engagement with Parchment results in a higher status (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze). The four-tiered program offers performance-based rewards including:

“We hear from high schools regularly asking how they ‘stack up’ or compare to other schools using Parchment,” said Kevin Martin, Parchment Senior Director or Member Development. “The Member Status Program provides regular reporting to schools on their engagement with Parchment and provides tips on how to increase their utilization, with the goal of earning Platinum status and being selected for the $10,000 student scholarship.”

Located in Columbia, South Carolina, Spring Valley High School has a student population of just over 2,000 students, with 434 making up the Class of 2017. At the end of the 2016 school year, Spring Valley was a Platinum member school with Parchment, processing nearly one digital credential per student.

Spring Valley High School Counselors

Pictured L-R (Gail McDonald, Beth Ashworth, Teasha Gibson, Eva Burrell; Not Pictured:Hilary Dickerson)  

“I believe that education changes lives,” says Gibson, a 13-year education professional. “I often tell my students, ‘short of winning the lottery, you will need an education to get somewhere in life.’ Education is what our country was founded on and working in this field allows me to be part of that wonderful process.”

To learn more about the Parchment Member Status Program or to inquire on your school’s status, contact info@parchment.com.

 

7 Tips for Institutions Preparing to Transition from Paper to Digital

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

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

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

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

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

Inside Look: Parchment Affiliate Partner Program

In September 2015, Parchment launched its Affiliate Partner Program, introducing Parchment services to more learners through the tools they are already using to navigate their journey into higher education. The established leader in digital credential ordering, Parchment reduces the complexity in the path to completing the college application process. Organizations currently engaging learners on their journey toward the academy, including college counseling, enrollment, CRM and readiness applications, can become Parchment Affiliate Partners and add digital credential ordering as a feature within their existing systems.

At launch, Parchment announced Graduation Alliance and Kuder as the inaugural Affiliate Partners.  Today, the Affiliate Partner Program boasts 11 partners scheduled  to go live before learners return to school this fall, including College Select, who just announced its adoption of the Parchment “OrderLink” workflow.

By adding the Parchment “Order My Transcript” widget to their site, affiliate partners create new entry points for learners to order their academic credentials from Parchment’s network of high school members. Imagine, without having to leave the college counseling tool they’re working in, learners begin the college application process by initiating a high school credential request from inside the counseling site.

The addition of Parchment to existing workflows benefits everyone involved in the credential delivery process:

  • Learners access fewer sites to complete their college application process
  • High school counselors and administrators reduce the burdens placed on their learners to complete college applications
  • College/University admissions offices increase the number completed application packets

To learn more about Parchment’s Affiliate Partner program, click here.

K12 Ultimate Guide to Final Transcript Season

The end of the school year is in sight and as your seniors prepare to begin their journey into higher education, that means final transcript season for your office.

We know this time of year can oftentimes feel overwhelming with urgent phone calls about eligibility and enrollment and we want to help reduce headaches to make life easier for you! In April, Shelly Weston, Registrar at Grandville High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan will lead a webinar “Feeling Good for Final Transcript Season” on two different dates. She will share best practices for final transcript season along with tips for making your Parchment account “summer ready.”

Shelly has volunteered to share her communication strategies and many useful documents that help her manage this heavy transcript requesting time of year. Register today for the webinar on Wednesday, April 27 at 2 p.m. EST or Thursday, April 28 at 10 a.m. EST and learn from Shelly how you can best prepare.

To listen to the 2015 final transcript season webinar presented by Shelley Weber Counseling Secretary and Mary Ann Sprague, Principal’s Secretary at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Michigan, click here.

 

Schedule a Break, a Brown Bag Break with Parchment

The life of a high school counselor or counseling administrator can be hectic with so much to do in so little time. Students requesting access to their academic credentials. Assisting with scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Helping students build their college lists. It’s enough to make your head spin.

The role of the counselor, registrar and other high school administrators has never been more important to the future workforce than it is today. Parchment recognizes the foundational role these individuals play in the lives of students and offers a recurring webinar series, Brown Bag Breaks, pairing administrators with their peers to share best practices, experiences and challenges. Brown Bag Break sessions are peer-led discussions that tackle a variety of topics key to the role of the counseling office. It is important to note, membership in the Parchment network is not mandatory for participation.

On Thursday, March 31 at 1 p.m. EST, Brenda Easterly, Student Data Services Specialist with Frisco Independent School District (TX) will host a session titled “The Credential Library.” Brenda will discuss how her office processed more than 9,000 transcript requests for the nine-school district in their first year with Parchment by leveraging the Credential Library. She will share her insights in streamlining transcript processing as well as the improved student experience that resulted. Register for Brenda’s Brown Bag Break session here.

On Thursday, April 14 at 1 p.m. EST, Jenny Thompson, Registrar at Southwest High School (WI) will host a Brown Bag Break titled “Implementing eTranscripts.” Jenny has unique insights into implementing eTranscripts as her school was a pilot school within the Green Bay Area Public School District.  She will speak directly to the time it took to implement, the challenges faced and how the new service was introduced to students and parents.Register for Jenny’s webinar here.

On Thursday, May 5 at 1 p.m. EST, Julie Rucker, Registrar at Kamiak High School (WA) and Eric Mathiesen, Parchment Manager of Training and Development, will host a Brown Bag Break titled “The Student Experience.” Julie will share her experiences around communicating Parchment to students including registration and managing questions related to the process. Eric will demonstrate the various ways students can launch the ordering experience, the steps to take to order a credential and many of the free student features including college list building, admissions acceptance chances, social sharing and more! Register for Jenny and Eric’s webinar here.

Interested in leading a Brown Bag Break discussion about a topic where you are experienced? Let us know by emailing us at info@Parchment.com. Maybe you’re interested in learning more about a topic but you’re not the expert. We want to hear from you too! Email us at info@Parchment.com and tell us what topics are important to you. We will then reach out to the broader community of registrars and find an expert for you.

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