The Transformation of Transcripts: Putting the Train on the Tracks

The Transformation of Transcripts: Putting the Train on the Tracks


Stored in student information systems, transcripts were nearly always printed, stamped, signed, and placed into an envelope before being dropped in the mail. When the transcript arrived, much of this process was reversed, with the document opened and often keypunched or scanned and brought back to a digital form.  From data to paper and back again, solving this inefficiency was the reason that I co-founded Parchment (then called Docufide) with John Reese and Jeffrey Harris.

This was 2003, and the students graduating high school were not only comfortable with ecommerce and submitting forms online, this was how they expected to get things done. They registered for the SAT online, researched colleges online and were increasingly completing their applications online.  At the same time, admissions professionals were talking of a paper-free admission office, which was rapidly becoming real with one notable holdout, the transcript.

We set out to design our services with a singular focus on transcript exchange, with an emphasis on building a true exchange network.  A network comprised of senders and receivers, high schools and colleges, scholarship organizations and employers.  Our founding CEO, and current Executive Chairman, John Reese described this stage as “laying the tracks”, building the exchange network as the infrastructure upon which the proverbial train of new benefits and services would later run.

During these years the company and the network grew. We designed our services to be flexible, providing schools with a consistent method to fulfill transcript requests regardless of the format in which they were delivered. The exchange network was developed to be secure, authenticating each institutional member while leveraging bank-level online security protocols. New high schools and colleges were added weekly, and our growth was fueled by the addition of state agencies, regional education compacts and organizations like the NCAA and the Common App.

When Matthew Pittinsky joined us at the end of 2010, he arrived with the resources and vision to accelerate our growth and we got to work transforming Docufide into Parchment. As we began to assemble the team that would help us realize our vision for what a transcript exchange network can be, I found myself describing Parchment to candidates as “best of both worlds”; both a successful ed-tech company with a now nine year history and a start-up in terms of growth, opportunity and energy. I am proud to be part of a dynamic, entrepreneurial-minded team, a diverse group made up of experienced software developers, ed-tech professionals, ex-Registrars and Admissions Officers working together to change how we interact with transcripts.

With the team now in place, joined by Avow perfectly complimenting what we had built with Docufide, and the benefits that come from the exchange of e-Transcripts well established; we enter 2013 poised to show the industry what it means to be a part of an e-Transcript exchange network.  With 35% of the US high schools and 1,900 colleges sending and/or receiving transcripts through Parchment, $6 million in annual R&D we are putting the trains on the tracks. Trains that ride the exchange network to bring schools the ability to automate the receipt of transcripts from a variety of institutions, services and formats, to the fulfillment of transcript requests in a fully automated manner to any destination worldwide. Bringing analytics and intelligence that leverage the network to help schools better understand where their students are coming from, where they are going, and how they stack up to their peers.  Bringing colleges the standards-based data that could be used to build learner profiles that may be used to improve student outcomes.

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