Transcript Innovation: A Discussion with Rodney Parks, Registrar, Elon University

Over the years, Rodney Parks, registrar at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, has generously shared a lot of viewpoints with Parchment. We think alike, believing that innovative digital credentials are the key to success for today’s students. And because neither of us is satisfied with business as usual, we constantly strive to make things better for those learners.

That’s why we at Parchment are always so excited to see Rodney attend our Connect conference year after year. This time, we got to chat about his experience with digital credentials, what he expects from us and what he hopes to see in the future.

From PDFs to full-fledged electronic transcripts

Rodney’s familiarity with new transcript types extends back to his years at the University of Georgia when PDF transcripts were first starting to take off. Once Rodney transferred to Elon, he had the opportunity to choose his own digital vendor. And we were extremely pleased that he opted for Parchment.

Elon wasn’t having issues with its existing credentials system, but Rodney wanted something more – something that would allow him to build new transcript types. He was taking co-curricular transcripts produced by student affairs and remaking them as transcripts that students could purchase. But order volume was low, and Rodney wanted to boost that number. After evaluating three major vendors, he selected Parchment, the only solution that offered custom transcripts.

According to Rodney, Parchment transformed Elon overnight. The institution thought implementing electronic transcripts would be a big challenge, but in fact, the students already expected such functionality. 

“We had orders within the first hour of launch – without even telling students,” Rodney noted. “We didn’t get a lot of comments other than, ‘Wow, this is easy.'” High praise coming from college students.

Helping schools help their students

“It’s a company that listens to its constituents,” Rodney said when asked what he likes about Parchment. “I feel like I can always call my account representative. Parchment is always innovating, always inviting feedback. They listen and look for creative solutions.”

Plus, Rodney enjoys attending the conference every year. “I always find value in it,” he said. “I like to get to see the data and think about what else we can use. I also learn about new trends that I can compare to Elon.”

One trend he’d like to see take wider hold on colleges is co-curricular transcripts. He and other school officials realize that extracurricular activities like student clubs, community service, noncredit internships, and campus athletics provide students with valuable competencies and interpersonal skills not developed in a traditional classroom setting. Employers find value in these skills, as do other colleges, so including them within a co-curricular transcript could help students secure the job or graduate school position they’ve dreamed of.

Innovating the electronic transcript

Rodney’s seen great success with his co-curricular transcript solution at Elon, and he wants more schools to try them. “The more institutions [Parchment] helps create those things, the better,” he added. 

Rodney’s approach to transcripts has attracted attention from other schools, and he’s received calls asking for help in expanding student records. This has given him unique insight into what schools expect, what they struggle with and what they plan to accomplish in the future. What, exactly, does he anticipate? “You’re going to see competency-based education grow,” he said.

He expects to see more literature on how school faculty assesses competency, and he believes schools will create more courses and programs that lead to certifications for specific jobs. Students will also change, coming to see learning as a lifelong process they can enter in and out of school. Electronic co-curricular transcripts make such a mindset much more possible, allowing students to keep track of their qualifications throughout their careers.

Thanks, Rodney, for your much appreciated, inspired and invaluable contributions to our products and our partnership. Here’s to many more successful years to come!

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