Colleges and universities that have not yet implemented electronic transcripts may be selling their students short.
Not only do e-transcripts require less staff time and ensure better results through trackability and online security, but they also can be delivered almost instantly.
“A delay of a few days in processing a transcript request may have been acceptable to students and former students in the past but that is no longer the case,” says David Pelham, vice president of higher education development and client relations at the National Student Clearinghouse. “Any delays in the processes can create a decreased advantage in any market, business or academic. Providing secure, official academic transcripts in under 15 minutes is a reality. The near real-time production of e-transcripts is an edge available to all schools.”
Following are three simple steps for offering e-transcripts.
- Determine needs. Kathie Beaty, registrar at Bradley University in Illinois, recommends that university officials collaborate with programmers in their institution’s IT department before selecting a product. “The programmers can help to determine implementation feasibility and system compatibility challenges,” she says. “One must also consider the costs to the institution and ultimately if any of that cost will be passed on to the students.”
- Choose a provider. Send out a request for proposals to leading e-transcript providers, which include Scrip-Safe International, National Student Clearinghouse, Parchment and Credentials Solutions, Beaty says. Make site visits and watch product demonstrations to ensure you understand what the products can do and how they work. Ask questions to determine how easily the products will work with your existing systems—and what level of customer service you can expect.
- Take the leap. Start out by offering just e-transcript services, and eventually seek ways to use the data, says Rodney Parks, registrar at Elon University in North Carolina. “I recommend implementing the technology in stages,” Parks says. “Let the staff get used to using the system. You can then gradually add more and more functionality with minimal impact to staff and users.”