3 Trends Driving Credential Innovation: What We Learned at the 2nd Annual Parchment Summit

Each year at Parchment we bring together educators and employers to discuss the future of academic credentials, hiring, lifelong learning and the careers of tomorrow. The second annual Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials was held in Washington D.C. March 1.

“Instead of the look of a traditional academic conference in which registrars are with other registrars or career services staff are with other career services staff, we like to bring together all the different parts of a university involved with credential innovation so they can see some of the broader themes and learn from each other,” says Matthew Pittinsky, PhD., CEO of Parchment.

Connecting the links in the credential value chain

The 2017 program included keynote speeches from bestselling education author and Washington Post contributor Jeff Selingo and Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, six breakout discussions, and two “fireside chats” in which panels of experts debated the future of university credentials and what it means now that employers are starting to use Big Data to mine “people analytics” for making hiring decisions. Three trends emerged from these discussions.

  1. From Education to Career Pathways

“Five years ago, university students would go through four years of school and then create a resume their senior year,” says Kevin Krueger, President of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). “What we know now is that’s not good enough; the career planning process should start at admissions.”

Rising levels of student debt and a global workforce have increased pressure on universities to connect the dots between the entirety of the college experience and earned skills that can translate in the workplace. Forward-thinking schools such as Princeton are responding by creating programs for helping students envision and create a pathway from the classroom to a career.

“We’re shifting toward helping students develop a personalized exploration of meaning and purpose in their engagement with the world,” says Pulin Sanghvi, Executive Director of Career Services at Princeton. To bring this approach to life, he’s created and teaches a course called Career and Life Vision, which he describes as a “hypothesis-driven model of self-exploration” to help students collect the skills needed to achieve what they want from life.

  1. Communicating Soft Skills More Important than GPA

Selingo, whose new book is titled There Is Life After College: What Parents and Students Should Know About Navigating School to Prepare for the Jobs of Tomorrow, says the biggest opportunity in credential innovation is in figuring out ways to properly assess and credential for employers all the learning students do when they aren’t at a desk — because a majority of the work they’ll do on the job will occur on the move, in meetings, or at events. Anywhere but at a desk.

“The world of work now is a mashup of activities, there isn’t a scheduled day,” Selingo says. “it’s a lot of negotiation, it’s a lot of teamwork, it’s a lot of moving from one activity to another activity. And that’s why I think, in many ways, there’s a lot more similarity between preschool and the world of work than the traditional notion of college and the world of work.”

To bridge the gap, NASPA is teaming up with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) to create what’s known as a Comprehensive Student Record for capturing and assessing learning outcomes, observed competencies, and experiences outside the classroom. What’s the difference between that and a resume? Krueger says it comes down to authentication. Students can’t merely claim competencies; they have to be earned and authenticated by a university.

“That way, skills and competencies are provable,” Krueger says. “Organize [the data] in such a way that would allow an employer to sort or search on a set of criteria or competencies, in the same way you can on LinkedIn, and you’ve a companion document that demonstrates the learning behind the degree.”

  1. Employers will demand more and better assessments from universities

Employers have long struggled to quantify classroom work when hiring. In recent years, some have turned to multi-stage interviews conducted over the course of weeks or months to better get to know recent graduates before making an offer. Sanghvi says that’s problematic.

“Hiring managers don’t have the ability to invest in 100 coffees with every candidate that comes their way,” he says. Their answer? Put more pressure on universities to better connect the dots between curriculum and on-campus experience with marketable on-the-job skills. Accelerated adoption of the Comprehensive Student Record or something like it could help to solve the problem.

“I think a lot of this is going to be driven by employers when they say to universities: we’re not going to hire your students anymore because they don’t come to us with the underlying skills we need,” Selingo says.

Stay involved in the discussion

As with all discussions on the future of education, the discussion about how to innovate academic credentials will continue online before the next Parchment Summit in 2018. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook and bookmark our resource page to stay connected and engage in Summit conversations on Twitter using #ParchmentSummit.

“What drives innovation is that we expect credentials to do more in today’s knowledge economy than we did even 50 years ago,” Pittinsky says. “We expect them to function for the student in the labor market. We expect them to be portable, collectible, shareable, stackable and that’s just today. We’re always going to expect more of credentials.”

Empowering the Employer: Parchment Summit 2017

With March here, many people start thinking about spring, St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness. But for those of us in the credentialing world, we worked hard to make sure March means one thing: The Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials.

This year’s event, held Wednesday, March 1st in Washington DC, focused on bridging the gap between employers and credentialing institutions. We were joined by journalists, leaders in higher education and employers like JetBlue Airways with the common thread amongst the group being a shared interest in ensuring we have a qualified, engaged workforce. In year two of the Parchment Summit, we concentrated on bringing forth conversations related to which employers collect academic credentials and why, seeking to further open up the lines of communication between higher education and the workforce.

“Right now we’re in an awkward spot where there appears to be a mismatch between what employers say they want and what they believe colleges and universities are producing,” said Ted Mitchell, former Under Secretary of Education for the Obama Administration, in a recent EdSurge story

In partnership with Connecting Credentials, the 2017 Parchment Summit featured keynote speakers, fireside chats and breakout sessions.

“As our students pursue a broader and more diverse range of career paths than anytime in the past, the growth of new, more flexible credentials will be critical to their ability to shape and tell their unique stories,” said Pulin Sanghvi, Executive Director, Office of Career Services, Princeton University. “I found the Parchment Summit to be thought-provoking in bringing together leading-edge thinkers on how this important space is evolving, and what the future will look like. In the course of our day together, we covered a broad range of topics related to credential innovation, new models of recruiting, and the enduring value of the liberal arts. I found myself on a steep learning curve the entire day, and already have a large number of ideas to bring back to Princeton.”

Videos from the 2017 Parchment Summit will be available on ParchmentSummit.com in April. In the meantime, follow us on social media via @parchment and @parchmentsummit and search for the 2017 Summit conversations using #parchmentsummit. Parchment and many attendees live tweeted sessions this year so you can quickly catch up on the conversations as we work to make the videos available.

Learn more about this year’s program here.

Wake-Up Call: The Non-Traditional Students Aren’t the Ones You Think

History and common wisdom says that college students tend to come from a suburban upbringing, and head straight to university after high school. The data tells a very different story. A majority of today’s students—the traditional students—would have been considered non-traditional only a few years ago. They’re taking gap years, starting businesses and families, and generally getting a highly tailored post-secondary education when they need it.

Demographics are shifting in many ways. For example, according to the Lumina Foundation, enrollment among African Americans rose 72 percent from the mid-1990s through 2012, while Hispanic enrollment tripled over the same period. Even more telling; 56 percent of students surveyed work while attending school, with roughly half of first-year enrollees living at or below the federal poverty line. Another 38 percent don’t enter school until after age 25.1

Of course 18-year olds still head off to college, but they arrive to very different demographics than did their parents or the generations before. Why aren’t Chief Admissions Officers waking up to this reality and doing more to help these supposedly “non-traditional” learners succeed in higher education?

Different paths

One answer could be is that expectations for college are changing as fast as schools are changing the makeup of their enrollments. For example, the rising costs of a post-secondary education means that students and their parents are less likely to commit to schools that don’t at least have a plan to connect the dots between education and career.

Rising interest in alternative education is also a problem. Enterprising students who take a gap year, had children, or spent their early 20s building a business are not only open to but actually forging different educational pathways, in some cases earning practical certifications to advance their careers, working the job in off hours or taking classes on weekends. Among post-secondary options, community college has proven to be particularly popular with non-traditional students. Lumina’s data finds that nearly half of all undergraduate students attend a two-year alternative rather than skip straight to a four-year school.

Can you blame them? Members of the 2016 graduating class exited school with a degree they financed and are $37,173 in debt, on average, according to data from researcher Mark Kantrowitz. Members of the 2015 graduating class left school with an average of $35,051 owed.2

Recognize that some learners, to keep costs down, may opt for community college or professional certification programs, or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). We also need to make it easy for students to get full credit for the work they’ve done elsewhere when transferring into a school. The last thing an eager learner needs is artificial roadblocks to success in their academic career, and only underscores the importance of a Transfer Student’s Bill of Rights.

Different students, different needs

Students looking to avoid the long-term pain of loans usually seek financial aid, but there’s less of it to go around now. Two recent reports from the College Board find that the net cost of college after accounting for grants, scholarships, and tax credits is rising because the so-called “sticker price” of a post-secondary education is rising faster than related increases in grant aid.

For example, average net tuition and fees at private, nonprofit colleges rose to $14,220 this fall from $13,340 last year at this time, when adjusting for inflation.3  The resulting 6.6 percent increase is more than double the average historical rate of inflation in the U.S. (3 percent) and over 16 times the annual increase in median family income. Institutions are often making it tougher to attract the learners most interested in spending on a post-secondary education.

Why not address the issue by including relevant scholarship and grant information when sending out recruiting mailers? Even if a school can’t offer a guarantee to prospective students, proactively providing insight and guidance for securing aid would be a welcome change for learners too often left to wonder what might be. And a lot of money goes unclaimed as a result; NerdScholar estimated the value of eligible but unused federal Pell grants at $2.9 billion following the 2014 school year.4

What to do now

We can come together to do a better job of serving the growing number of non-traditional learners in our midst, starting with using technology to find better schools and scholarship opportunities for students—whatever their age, history, or stage of academic journey. Coding electronic transcripts and certifications with machine-readable data for later analysis is a good start, and it’s something we’re already working on at Parchment.

No one who’s been an educator or who’s had the satisfaction of finishing an advanced degree will dispute the value of post-secondary education. The problem is there are too many starters and not enough finishers: 36 million Americans in the workforce today attended some college but never graduated with a degree.

We can get to work fixing this problem now, but first we need to recognize that our notion of the stereotypical college student is long outdated. Today’s future all-stars will take winding, uncommon paths to get the right credentials, and they’ll need relevant financial aid to go the distance. We can use technology to put students on the right path, right from the start.


  1. LinkedIn article: Zombies, college, and today’s student,” author: Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation.
  2. CBS News: Congrats, class of 2016: You’re the most indebted yet,” author: Aimee Picchi.
  3. The Washington Post: College costs rising faster than financial aid, report says,” author: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel.
  4. NerdWallet: Students Leave Over $2.9 Billion in Free College Money on the Table,” author: Gianna Sen-Gupta.

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.

It could take a decade of incremental change to get to the point where we can look at credentials and accurately compare the skill sets of two different, but highly skilled, professionals. In the meantime, we need a next-generation digital credential service that supports every transcript, every diploma, every certificate and certification, fully and digitally.

And once we have a fully digital infrastructure for education credentials, we can do more. We can evaluate how certain credentials are represented in the marketplace and help future generations to customize their education. We can also better match employers with prospective employees by studying how credentials affect work outcomes.

In short: we can optimize how students, universities, employers and government institutions spend their time and treasure on higher learning.

Stacking a Future, One Credential at a Time

Education has evolved. We’ve seen it. Many of us at Parchment have worked at schools and universities or in other technology companies that serve educational institutions. With digital technology, today’s graduates can collect and stack credentials that reflect what they learn over a lifetime, helping them navigate fluid careers that ebb and flow as skillsets probably change.

The more we commit to building a digital credential infrastructure, the more opportunities we create for learners to “stack” credentials together to show provable expertise worth hiring or admitting. And the more effectively we can serve employers who want to assess much more than a year-to-year change in GPA and learners who want to showcase their experiences. Institutions also benefit by decommoditizing programs and proving that not all credentials are equal.

But this only works if lifelong learners have a single profile for collecting every credential they earn, which is why we’ve been working so hard to create the next-generation digital credential service. In fact, we use the same three fundamental goals I’ve laid out as our product north stars: making credentials digital and machine readable, innovating the form and function of credentials and making credentials truly portable.

You’ll be hearing more about how our product roadmap is advancing all three from our SVP of Product and Support Rajeev Arora in an upcoming blog post. The evolving Parchment platform for digital credentials serves three distinct stakeholders: the issuer, the learner and the receiver. Each has a role to fulfill. It’s a big step on a long journey we’re taking on behalf of our members. I invite you to be a part of it.

Thank you,

Matthew Pittinsky, Parchment Chief Executive Officer


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

UPDATE: ITT Tech Student Credential Orders

Last month, we shared a blog post about how Parchment had begun taking what at the time were advanced credential orders for ITT Tech students.  Soon after, we began processing those orders as records became available and we are now pleased to report that as of Friday, October 14, the backlog of ITT Tech credential orders is at zero!  It is a great relief to know that ITT Tech students are no longer constrained by access to their records to pursue their education and career plans. Of course, at any one time there may be several hundred requests being processed, but orders should now be fulfilled within the standard 24 to 48 hour timeframe.

We know the road from then to now seemed too long for some ITT Tech students. There were two primary causes for long fulfillment times.  First, the circumstances of ITT Tech’s closure generated a very large number of requests, all urgent, in a very short period of time.  Second, compounding this backlog, the closure also meant it took longer to transfer ITT Tech records to Parchment for orders to be fulfilled.

To address the surge in requests for ITT Tech student orders, we doubled our member support staff so we could increase our speed to fulfill orders and respond to student inquiries. We also maintained a weekly cadence of communication with state agencies so they could understand how we were doing at the same time.

We look forward to continuing to assist ITT Tech students and alumni as quickly as we can. We have a dedicated student support team standing by right now to help with any student issue. Any students that may still have questions are encouraged to contact our team at support.parchment.com and one of our support staff will follow up right away.

Thank you to the many students who waited patiently during this process. We wish you the best of luck as you move on to your next educational or professional opportunity.


How to Use Lifetime Learning to Climb the Ladder

Thanks to technology, it’s never been easier to adopt a lifelong learning habit. Some of us have one and don’t even know it.

Consider the customer service rep who scours the Internet to find old manuals that hold the answers for customers who call in with difficult questions. Every piece of gathered data improves her chances of serving well, which, in turn, increases her value.

Every industry has this version of the stereotypical go-getter. Journalists who master new research databases are learners. Machinists who figure out how to retool an assembly line are learners. And schoolteachers who spend summers digging through curriculum research are as much learners as the students they serve each fall.

Others graduate from spot-learning to formalized training. Sources range from sophisticated catalog operators such as lynda.com to association and corporate-led certification programs, to institutionally sponsored Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Which should you choose? Start with a program that not only fits your schedule, but also suits your learning style.

Then, make sure there’s a digitally-available certificate awarded upon completion. You may need it to prove you’ve acquired the skills to advance to the next level in your career.

The Increasing Importance of Stacking

Think of it like a video game, with new skills acting like power-ups that make you stronger and able to achieve more. The more skills you stack together, the more valuable you become to a prospective employer.

Certificates represent real life power-ups in the same way that onscreen icons represent power-ups in a video game. Having more is usually better, but it’s the combinations that make the biggest difference.

Say you’re a young network technician who one day dreams of becoming a Chief Information Officer. Adding Microsoft and Oracle certifications to your existing Cisco certification is a must, but to that you may also want to add some certified expertise large-scale systems administration and perhaps an MBA from a well-known technical university.

That’s stacking in order to climb the information technology career ladder. Dozens more industries are developing similar stacks to guide ambitious learners.

Not All Credentials Are Created Equal

While there are hundreds or even thousands of ways to add skills, employers usually want proof of learned expertise. That’s where verified credentials come in.

More than a PDF, a verified digital credential can only be issued by the organization whose brand it bears. At Parchment, we use Adobe blue-ribbon technology in combination with our platform innovations to provide this functionality to high schools and universities today.

Over time, we expect thousands of trainers, corporations, and associations will use the technology to provide their own forms of verified credentials to learners so that they can be easily shared with prospective employers.

Even Non-Artists Need a Portfolio

Simple, secure sharing is the ultimate promise of digital credentials and a learner’s best ally in climbing the career ladder.

To get there, we’ll first need a central place where entire stacks of verified credentials can be collected and stored. We’ll soon have news about how we’re improving the Parchment Credential Profile to serve this purpose. Think of it as a vault that holds a lifetime of stacked expertise that you’ll carry and build upon throughout your career.

Are you stacking credentials? To what end? Leave a comment to tell us your story. And if you’d like more information about creating your free, personal credential profile, or if you’re an institution looking to offer digital credentials to your constituents, get in touch now. We’d love to hear from you.

Parchment is Now Taking Advance Credential Orders for ITT students

At the center of  the closing of ITT Educational Services, Inc are the students and alumni who were pursuing their postsecondary education and now face the challenge of earning their degree  elsewhere.  Will other colleges accept their ITT credits?  When will they gain access to their transcripts to begin the process of transfer?  In many ways these questions reveal the broader issue of transferring course credits in the U.S. and the lack of a Transfer Student Bill of Rights.  But they are especially urgent and real for those who attended ITT and are now facing the involuntary need to change institutions.

The focus of this post is our announcement today that ITT has engaged Parchment to provide a convenient and national, online request and fulfillment service for ITT transcripts and related credentials.  This service will be available during ITT’s wind-down period and afterward, ensuring a secure and accessible avenue for students and alums to receive the transcript and diploma services they deserve.  As of noon Pacific today, orders may be placed at beta-www.parchment.com/ITT.

If you are a student, alumni or adviser to one, we have some important information to share about how the service works and some expectations to set for what your experience will be like in the first few weeks we are live.

Please be patient and expect initial fulfillment times to be slower than you deserve (several weeks).

Initially, ITT staff will start fulfilling requests placed on Parchment.com.  Their staff are limited, so it is likely that most orders will queue until ITT makes its records available to Parchment’s systems.  Once ITT’s records are available, Parchment can speed up processing time, but given the backlog of orders we will be starting with, we estimate that transcript fulfillment by Parchment will still take several weeks at first.  As the initial backlog of orders is cleared, we expect processing time to take less than 48 hours.  We have developed a special email that will be sent after each order explaining the processing timeline and how you can use Parchment’s online tracking tool to stay up-to-date.

Please take note of your graduation year as the service can support 2001 graduates to current students only.

We are only able to serve students and alumni with graduation years from 2001 to current students.

If you are sending your transcripts to a college or university, please use Parchment to send them electronically.

In addition to online request and tracking, Parchment provides the ability to send your transcripts electronically to colleges instead of us printing and mailing them.  When you start the ordering process, you will be asked to type in the destination.  With more than 80% of colleges accepting electronic transcripts, it is likely that we will recognize your destination and inform you that the admissions office prefers electronic delivery. (It is easier and faster for them to process electronic transcripts, especially when courses need to be evaluated for credit.) You can always choose to send via email to any email address or have printed and mailed to any address.

Please think twice before choosing overnight delivery as an option.

We provide an overnight delivery option, but because of the volume of requests we will be receiving at first, it will still take a while to process your request.  Once processed, we will send it overnight, of course. But we want to make sure that requestors understand that we cannot ensure 24-hour delivery following a request until the initial surge of orders are processed.

Please take advantage of our Help Center.

It’s natural to have questions and we have developed our Help Center to provide assistance when you need it.  If your main question, understandably, is “Where is my transcript?” or “When will my transcript go out?”, the tracking tool is your best and most up-to-date resource.  Beyond that, we have lots of tips and guides and when needed, you can file a support request via the Help Center and we will work to respond by email as soon as possible.  We are adding staff to help serve ITT students.  That said, the watchword remains patience as we work to serve a large number of students all at once.

Please understand that there is a fee.

Yes, I saved this one for last.  In cases like this we do what most state agencies and many colleges and universities do — we charge a request fee.  For electronic requests that fee is $12.  If you choose for your transcript to be printed and delivered by mail, there is an additional $2.50 handling fee.  We recommend you send electronically, both to save those costs and because it’s the delivery method colleges prefer.  If you choose overnight delivery or international destinations, the handling fee will be higher based on what you’ve chosen.

Schools or hiring agencies may need to request ITT credentials too.

While we anticipate the bulk of ITT credential orders to come directly from students and alumni, we recognize that there are colleges, universities, hiring agencies and other credential verifiers that have permission to request credentials on behalf of ITT students or alumni. In order to process these types of orders, requestors will need to be have a Parchment Receive account (don’t worry, its free we make it easy). Organizations looking to receive ITT credentials through Parchment can learn more about our Parchment Receive program here.

Our mission is to help turn credentials into opportunities.

At a time like this you are probably not interested in the mission statement of the organization that is providing your services.  That’s understandable.  I share it because we want you to know, that we know, how important gaining secure and speedy access to your transcript is.  We work everyday with learners in mind.  The credentials we enable are critical to so many transitions and goals that people are pursuing, from admissions, to licensing to employment.  You deserve our best and you will have it.  We need your patience at first as we complete the transition from ITT and work through a big backlog and rush.  Our sleeves are rolled up to make that happen as soon as possible.  

We wish you the best of luck, wherever your transcripts may take you.

Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D.


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

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

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

Educational Institutions

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The following employers are top receivers of Parchment transcripts:

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

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

Government Agencies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forming a Career Path, One Credential at a Time

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

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

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

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

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

nurseWorking Together to Make Stacking Real

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

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

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


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

Parchment Summit: Conversations in Credentialing

Innovating the form and function of academic credentials has never been a more important conversation for higher education.The credentials they historically confer include information that is  becoming archaic to learners and employers.

Introduced in 2016, the Parchment Summit on Innovating Academic Credentials was designed to foster collaboration between higher education leaders, employers and others that believe in the potential of technology to extend the meaning of academic credentials. More than 200 practitioners gathered for the inaugural Summit, co-sponsored by Connecting Credentials, in February to launch the first in a series of discussions that will move the credential conversation forward.

Keynote presentations, panel discussions and workshops from the inaugural convening have been made available on the Parchment Summit website.  Additionally, a variety of research and reports have been collected that represent the direction of the credential conversation.

Recently, Parchment Summit has launched its “After the Summit” series, including issue briefs and webinars, further extending the depth of many discussions that began at the 2016 Parchment Summit. Fresh, new content in the “After the Summit Series” includes:

Interested in learning more about a specific idea tied to innovating credentials? Contact us and we will be happy to dig in.

Illinois Learners Expand Reach, Broaden Horizons with Renewal of Parchment eTranscript Service

Helping to make college accessible and affordable for students statewide. That’s the mission of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). And the organization has been very busy doing just that since 1957.  One of their more recent initiatives? Going digital with student transcripts, achieved by partnering with Parchment in 2011. Now, based on the success of the program, ISAC is renewing their commitment to Parchment for another three years.

Why renew? We asked Abel Montoya, director of Outreach Operations. “Prior to working with Parchment, we could only send transcripts electronically within the state of Illinois,” he explains. “Initially with Parchment, we could send to any participating college in the Midwest. But with the renewal, we’re expanding our reach to any participating school in the U.S.” For Illinois public and private high schools that’s a big deal, broadening horizons and reinforcing the notion that college is a possibility for them. And because transcript requests are subsidized by ISAC, the service is free.

Montoya reports that he’s seen over 80K transcript requests for this school year. “Last year was over 90K, so we will surpass that, he says. “If we can get 100K transcripts sent, that’s a nice number. But as long as we keep improving year over year, that’s our goal.”

Why Parchment? Montoya says it’s about a quality product that works well and is user friendly. He’s seen usage grow statewide and for all different types of schools. Before Parchment, only 100 Illinois schools signed up to use the old system. But with Parchment, there are over 380 schools on board, quadrupling previous usage and exponentially increasing the number of students able to send eTransripts—and do it at no cost.

“Parchment levels the playing field,” Montoya says. “Not every school in Illinois has the budget to make electronic transcripts available to students. This initiative enables us to provide an eTranscript option to all students across the state. Once they are able to send transcripts electronically, it makes the process easier and less convoluted.”

Who benefits? Both students and the high schools they attend benefit with the electronic solution. With Parchment, students know the transcripts arrive at the colleges they applied to. So they’re not anxious or stressed, and they’re not calling to ask if their transcript went through. “Students are notified when a transcript is sent to a college and when it’s received”, says Montoya. “That also takes a big load off the counselors, who can concentrate on things other than answering student queries about deliveries and calling colleges about arrivals.”

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “Counselors like the system and how easy it is to use,” Montoya says. “They like the report functionality that provides instant information about the number of transcript requests, how many have been sent, and any additional variables they want to put in there. They are very happy with the process.”

Let’s talk implementation. According to Montoya, implementing the the pilot was very easy, and the staff at Parchment was very helpful. “They’re cognizant of the demands and time constraints of the high school counselors involved in the initiative,” he says. “Parchment was very responsive and willing to help. So it was quite easy. They answered questions in a timely fashion, so it made for a really nice roll out. And Parchment has quite a lot of experience doing this with other states, so we knew what to expect.”

What does the future hold? “I think when all the high schools realize that students can send transcripts electronically for free anywhere in the U.S., we’ll have more high schools sign up,” predicts Montoya. Although some state high schools use other vendors, now they can just sign up with the state initiative and do it for free. What high school doesn’t welcome the opportunity to reduce costs?

One way to increase usage is to promote the initiative. “We promote the transcript exchange at our professional development workshops,” Montoya explains. “We do training for about 1,000 high school counselors, college personnel, and others throughout the year. And when our field staff members visit the schools, they also mention this initiative, along with all the others we offer.”

Of course, getting schools on board can be challenging at times. “Often times, the biggest challenge is that schools are resistant to change,” Montoya says. “They think it’s going to be more work, but we try to show them that in the long run it’s a lot less work for them. It will make their lives easier.”

And the bottom line? “We feel this initiative was worth the cost,” concludes Montoya. “It helps students who already have enough challenges make the process of going to college easier. Ultimately ISAC and Parchment have the same audience–the students–and the same goal in mind, which is to help them attain their educational goals.”

To learn more about the ISAC Transcript Exchange or to register to participate please reach out to Paul McMorrow at pmcmorrow@parchment.com


Elon University’s Experiential Transcript — What the Future Looks Like

For more than 20 years, North Carolina’s Elon University has offered some form of experiential transcript that documents how students engage outside of the classroom. But it wasn’t until 2014 that Elon combined this record with the academic transcript. Students and prospective employers alike are delighted by the change.

“[Employers] really liked the idea of having more information to make a decision as to whether or not a candidate was a good fit for their company. Our experiential transcript does that,” says Elon registrar Dr. Rodney Parks, speaking in a recent interview.

Dr. Rodney Parks

He’s referring to how Elon’s transcripts are visually distinct, revealing not only how well students perform academically during their time at the university, but also the hours and effort put into research, internships, global learning, and community service. Employers can use the document to get a better sense of a recent grad’s leadership potential or rough competency in a given field, among other things.

A Crash Course in the Co-Curricular Movement

Elon isn’t the only university to offer experiential transcripts. Furman University and Western Governors University take a similar approach1. The University of Alabama, Purdue University, and Augustana College also offer a “co-curricular” transcript that describes activities that go ungraded, which includes additional information about significant projects completed during a student’s four-year tenure2. Having these experiences documented and certified is supposed to help students prove their worth in a tough job market in which even experienced candidates are judged by how well they perform in college.

What distinguishes Elon’s transcript is that experiences and academic performance combine to provide what Parks called “a complete picture” of the student journey, including skills and competencies earned. Elon has partnered with Parchment to bring the new format to life in digital form.

“Back in 2013, we had this vision of being able to extend the transcript. Parchment was the only vendor that was willing to say, sure, we can figure out creative ways to allow Elon to actually release more than just the academic transcript,” Parks says.

By the next year, when students were first able to order both experiential and academic transcripts as a single document, orders rose from just three experiential transcripts to more than 800.

“Experiential transcripts still account for about 20 percent of student orders,” Parks says.

Giving Employers What They Want and Helping Students Market Themselves

Employers, too, are showing increasing interest in the combined transcript. Parks says that nearly 200 companies are participating in an ongoing survey about what they’d like to see from Elon students.

“Resumes aren’t telling the whole story,” Parks says, noting recent data that shows more than half of resumes contain some falsifications3. Worse, more than 70 percent of college students surveyed said they would lie on a resume to get a job they wanted. USA Network’s ongoing drama, “Suits,” has turned this truism into a plot point.

“Employers appreciate that we’re giving them a document loaded with data that’s fully certified,” Parks says. “They can be more confident that they’re getting the skills they’re hiring for — even if the candidate is just out of college.”

That’s a crucial advantage for Elon students, and Parks says it changes the way they market themselves. One senior who works in Parks’ office, Alexander, says his certified experiences helped him land a post-graduate internship with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).

“One of the first things [AACRAO Executive Director] Mike Reilly asked for was his experiential transcript,” Parks says.

What the Future Brings

As this post goes live, Elon University students are preparing to receive their first diplomas, digitally. They’ll also have the ability to order fully visual transcripts that include summaries of both co-curricular experiences and academic performance. Parchment is handling purchasing and distribution to Elon students, while Parks works with Parchment co-founder and CEO Dr. Matthew Pittinsky on new ways to extend both the transcript and other credentials.

“How do we embed competencies into the [transcript]? How do we embed a published paper? How do we embed a job description of the internship that the student has completed? If we can get to that point, then employers in the snap of a finger can look at this visualization and get an understanding of who that student is,” Parks says.

Longer term, Parks says he and his team will work with Parchment to create fully interactive documents that become part a lifelong portfolio of courses completed, skills earned, and experiences lived. “I think there’s tremendous potential in moving forward with this technology.”


  1. http://www.aacrao.org/conferences/conferences-detail-view/experiential-transcripts—the-aacrao-tech-and-transfer-conference
  2.  https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=universities%20offering%20co-curricular%20transcripts
  3. http://www.statisticbrain.com/resume-falsification-statistics/

Five International Facts About Parchment

Today, at the fifth annual meeting of the Groningen Declaration Network in Cape Town South Africa, Parchment announced its partnership with China Higher Education Student Information and Career Center (CHESICC), an authoritative institution directly under the Chinese Ministry of Education.

South Africa? China? Didn’t know that Parchment was international, did you? Let’s take a look at these five international facts about Parchment:

  1. In May 2015, Parchment CEO Matthew Pittinsky provided his “John Hancock”, making Parchment a signatory to the Groningen Declaration, a set of principles focused on improving student data mobility. This international document seeks common ground to best serve both the academic and professional mobility needs of learners around the world by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem.
  2. Today’s announcement with CHESICC enables Parchment Receive members to accept verified Chinese academic credentials electronically and securely through CHESICC.  The CHESICC/Parchment delivery service is now live following a beta period during which University of Nebraska at Omaha received student records from CHESICC through Parchment using the same processes and workflows with which they process domestic transcripts and related records.
  3. Since 2014, Parchment has been engaged with TrueCopy, a leading exchange platform for electronic transcripts in India, enabling Parchment Receive members to verify academic credentials from India.
  4. The CHESICC relationship further expands Parchment’s international network of credential issuers, already spanning 45 countries.
  5. Parchment joins other key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem this week in Cape Town, South Africa for the fifth annual meeting of the Groningen Declaration Network.


The Digital Evolution of Education

Education enthusiasts, have you ever wondered what our nation’s founding fathers would think if they were to visit a college campus today? How did we get from the first distance education course in 1840 to three-dimensional online learning in 2015? At Parchment, we were curious how education has evolved digitally so we decided to dig in. Our new infographic takes a chronological look back at the past, present and future of education – from the brick-and-mortar classroom to the digital one.



The End of the Paper Chase: 3 Institutions That Turned the Registrar’s Office Into a Revenue Generator

At Parchment, we’re betting 2016 is the year of the eTranscript. Why? How does cutting costs and streamlining efficiency sound? That’s the kind of success hundreds of universities across the country are finding when they shake off antiquated traditions and go digital with eTranscripts. And the proof is in the pudding: a recent study found that switching from paper to digital dropped per-transcript administrative costs by 35 percent, on average, while also increasing revenue.

We asked registrars at Kansas State, Furman University in Greenville, SC, and Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) to share their experience switching to Parchment eTranscripts. Here’s what they had to say.

Kansas State: Profiting from New Traditions

At Kansas State University, the transcript window was an antiquated campus site, in need of an update. For the KSU registrar’s office, closing “the window” ushered out a traditional practice and created new opportunities (and a bigger budget) to more efficiently and effectively serve students, in a way befitting the 21st century: digital.

“Tearing down an on-campus icon is never an easy choice — and the transcript window certainly was just that – but, once we identified the benefits, as a team we couldn’t pass up the chance to serve students in new ways while also cutting costs,” said Barbara Nagel, KSU Assistant Registrar for Office Operations.

Today, Kansas State’s Customer Services Support Center exists where the transcript window once stood. The result is a one-stop shop for students with complicated administrative inquiries, issues, or problems, especially when it comes to transcripts. For these sensitive matters the university has taken a staged approach. Students use Parchment to login online anytime, between classes, at the library, etc., and order transcripts from the university’s student information system. Documents are then made available for pickup during regular hours at the Service Center.

Early feedback was that students loved the more streamlined process, especially since it ate up less time in their busy schedules. Five  years into implementing Parchment, KSU has reduced the headcount for handling transcript-related requests from two full-time employees,one part-time worker, and one temporary staff member to one full-time employee ..

“If we could have known how greatly this system would improve our students’ lives, then we would have closed the transcript window years ago!” says Nagel.

Furman: Fast Service Makes Fans

Furman may be an order of magnitude smaller than KSU — just 3,000 are enrolled most years — but it’s about as active as an institution can be when it comes to serving its students. Associate Dean and University Registrar Brad Barron and his team have delivered over 20,000 eTranscripts over the last three years.

“We went from zero to 100 percent [adoption] in less than four months,” Barron said of student enthusiasm for the Parchment system, which processes and sends eTranscripts in 30 minutes, down from the four to six hours it took under the old paper-based system. Faster delivery leads to handling more requests, which leads to more revenue for Barron’s department and a stronger relationship between the department and its students.

Texas A&M at Corpus Christi: More Data, More Revenue

Like Furman and KSU, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) wasn’t meeting students’ needs with its paper-based transcript system. Manual processes were bottlenecking the system, keeping administrators from filling more than 17,000 annual requests in a timely fashion. Registrar Michael Rendon turned to eTranscripts via Parchment Send to solve the problem, and the results proved better than expected.

“With Parchment, we can accept requests 24/7, collect payment almost immediately, and deliver certified eTranscripts that look the same as my paper transcripts, from the watermark to my signature,” Rendon said. Student adoption — and, correspondingly, departmental revenue — is up significantly as a result.

A Digital Future for All

Despite the obvious benefits of eTranscripts, the Parchment survey found that only 43 percent of institutions send them on behalf of students. Nagel sees that changing, and her peers would appear to agree: 72 percent of registrars and administrators polled said that digitizing transcripts with Parchment makes their lives easier. Even more (76 percent) believe that students are also better served. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why so many eTranscript adopters report higher revenues and lower costs. By implementing eTranscripts, departments are able to become more efficient, potentially adding services to their offerings and becoming the one-stop shops for students from the beginning to the completion of the transcript procurement, finalization and sending process.

“When we look back and think about how we used to manage transcripts with a manual paper process, we wonder how we ever did it,” says Nagel.

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