For newly minted alumni poised to land their first job or continue their studies in grad school, few items are more important than the transcript. Proof that the work was done, the grade earned, and the degree awarded, the transcript serves as the institution’s stamp of approval.
And when you need it, you need it. At the University of Wisconsin-Stout, though, obtaining an official transcript was a 12-step process involving a paper request form, the submission of a check or cash as payment, hand-entering data into the student information system, printing the transcript, typing a label, and mailing or faxing the document to the waiting graduate. The entire thing could take up to three weeks.
“It was a very tedious and long process, as you can imagine,” says Jennifer Swoboda, office manager in the registration and records office. “Students would call and complain. That started the whole process of, ‘What can we do to make this more efficient?’ ”
That process led Stout to Credential Solutions’ TranscriptsPlus, an online service that automates the handling of transcript requests. TranscriptsPlus integrates with Stout’s student information system to verify the requester’s records, check for holds, and so on. It authenticates credit cards and takes care of processing payments, as well; no longer are options limited to cash or check.
When an order is verified and payment processed, TranscriptsPlus automatically sends relevant documentation directly to Registration and Records’ printer for printing.
Users can access the service through the university’s website as well as its portal. Also speeding things along are new delivery options, including FedEx, rush pick-up, and PDFs, joining the existing snail-mail method.
“Students have made comments that they’re appreciative they can pay online and have the convenience of getting a transcript electronically,” Swoboda says. “Most of the time they need it right away, and they’re glad to have that additional service available to them.”
Previously, on its best days, when interruptions were minimal, the registrations and records office was able to manually process 50 transcript requests a day. Now that number has shot up to 160.
In addition to enabling Stout to handle more requests, the new system has saved the university money, according to Scott Correll, the university registrar. Correll notes that his office’s phone tree costs the institution every time a call comes in. Because satisfaction is higher, fewer calls are being made.
The registrar is no longer getting a large volume of phone calls with alumni inquiring where their transcript is, Correll says. “They know where their order is; they get an email when their transcript [request] has been completed. We’ve seen a dramatic reduction in our phone bill over the last two years as several of these processes have been implemented. … Fewer inquiries saves us money.”