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7 Tips for Institutions Preparing to Transition from Paper to Digital

Parchment Staff  •  Jul 19, 2016  •  Blog

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.

There’s always more to learn.

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Admissions Enrollment Advisor looking at student transcripts