Bringing a minimalist ethos to the transfer office

July 8, 2019
  • Technology and Transfer
  • Transfer and Articulation

Beginning about six years ago, University of Minnesota - Duluth began the journey toward implementing a 100% paperless transfer credit evaluation and petition process. 

Like many mid-sized schools, UMD was becoming a more global institution -- both sending and receiving more students internationally -- but didn’t have the resources to build a homegrown solution like many larger institutions do.

In order to accomplish their goal, they needed to streamline their office to keep service at the highest level possible, but also be able to evaluate credits more efficiently, equitably, and transparently.

Partnering with a vendor

One major strategy for improving service to transfer students involved working with their partner CollegeSource.

When they began, their evaluation process was part TES and part paper-based, depending on where credits came from. 

“When we started analyzing the business processes in the Office of the Registrar, we recognized that although we had software to help with the domestic transfer credit process, we had no solution for international -- nor did we have solutions for colleges that didn’t participate in TES,” said Carla Boyd, Registrar. “But dealing with paper isn’t transparent to students, and it lead to inequality in terms of timing -- some people get a decision in 30 seconds, others have to wait three weeks.” 

So they approached their partner and requested a change in the software.

“We put together specifications about how the modification could support providing an electronic solution for all international courses using TES,” Boyd said. “They saw the business need and how it helps institutions of our size and smaller, and saw how they could improve TES -- which works great for domestic students -- and expand it to all students with international credit.”

In response, CollegeSource developed a new user-added send course feature for TES. Advantages of the new solution include:

  • Eliminates additional time and cost of paper evaluations

  • No need to scan for future reference (including auditors)

  • More environmentally friendly and sustainable 

  • No more lost or mislaid paperwork.

  • More trackable, consistent evaluations.

“These improvements mean equity for students no matter where that credit is coming from,” Boyd said. 

Minimization for focus

This software implementation was one of a number of changes UMD has adopted as they move closer to their goal of paperless evaluation. Additionally, they now use a Google forms process for evaluation, exception and reevaluation requests, among other changes.

“We have seen amazing results,” added Sarah Hatfield, Business/Systems Analyst. “We’ve had a 40 percent gain in efficiency in international credit evaluation. If faculty are available we can get a decision as soon as they can press a button -- and just as quickly as a student transferring from five minutes down the road.”

In their presentation at the 2019 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, “Office Minimalism: A Smarter, Paperless System for Transfer Credit Evaluations,” Boyd and Hatfield will discuss how to utilize this new user-added send course tool, and also talk about how to establish focus and clarity through simplification 

“We’re going to talk about how to tidy up those cumbersome processes,” Boyd said. “Minimization can really help processes better promote diversity, be more equitable, and support those values that we share.”