Providing simple, secure, and efficient transcript services during COVID-19

April 20, 2020
  • Electronic Records and Document Exchange
  • Records and Academic Services
  • Transcripts
  • covid-19
  • Webinars

by Matthew Pittinsky, Ph.D., CEO Parchment

It was just eight months ago that I wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed about the changing role of the Registrar.  To say that it seems like a lifetime ago would be an understatement, a feeling we all no doubt share. It generated positive emails from Registrars, less about specific trends and more about the bigger picture it painted of the strategic importance of the Registrar’s office during a time of “structural change” in higher education. As I write today, for one of those trends in particular -- “conductor of degree pathways” -- that change has been put into overdrive. 

Whether for enrollment pathways like credit transfer, or employment pathways like professional licensure, never before has the importance of providing secure and timely transcripts been greater.  For too many institutions who still rely on paper and campus facilities, it has also never been more difficult.

Which is why through AACRAO’s leadership, Parchment is pleased to announce a simple, low-commitment transcript issuing service that provides online request and multi-format (electronic and paper) delivery services with fast-track implementation support.  (Find more information here.) The service is no cost to the institution, as is implementation support, with quick access to our most modern technology and comprehensive network of destinations. 

Our team is ready to partner with your office to ensure all transcript requests are fulfilled quickly and securely electronically or by print and mail.  Across the 1,600 colleges and universities we serve at the new Parchment, through our Credentials and Parchment networks, approximately 55% of U.S. enrollments are benefiting from modern digital credentials technologies. (This includes digital diplomas, as well as transcripts and certificates.) Even if it is only a temporary solution for you to meet student needs during this unprecedented time, we are here to help.

COVID-19 is accelerating shift to electronic transcripts. In the last twelve months the new Parchment processed approximately 19 million credential requests, including diplomas, certificates, transcripts, and verifications. As COVID-19 began to impact campuses across the country, we saw daily transcript volumes decline by as much as 50 percent year over year for some institutions. Since then, electronic transcripts and Parchment print and mailed transcripts have rebounded and are now significantly up year over year, while requests for transcripts at campuses that print and mail themselves remain down by 40-60%. The daily composition of requests -- electronic, Parchment print and mail, campus print and mail -- has moved markedly in favor of electronic. It appears one consequence of COVID-19 is acceleration of the shift from paper to electronic. Another consequence is an increase in colleges expanding their eTranscript partnership for transcript print and mail services. Campus continuity, along with operational efficiency, is tipping the balance. 

Credit transfer, graduate admissions, and licensure remain the top reasons students and alumni are requesting their records.  Volume related to employment and internships remains depressed. Finally, we are seeing rapid adoption of digital diplomas in support of virtual commencements and as graduates celebrate their achievement with family and friends online.

Every transcript request is a credential that has the potential to turn into an opportunity for a learner. It will be interesting to see whether the aforementioned decline in transcript requests are lost or will simply shift to a later date. Early evidence suggests that requests are rebounding, transactions are shifting as we now see higher year over year volumes than typical, and learners are refocusing their pursuit of the next phase in their college and career journey. But of course, there is nothing typical about this moment in time. 

Whether the acceleration in student mobility most observers of higher education predict is short term or more fundamental, time will tell. Either way, students and alumni expect and benefit from convenient, secure, and efficient access to their records. For those Registrars who find themselves with limited capacity to meet this need, Parchment is here to help. As we have been for more than 23 years. We look forward to hearing from you! And stay well.

Coffee Break

Join our free Coffee Break webinar "Transcript Processing Made Simple During COVID-19." 

Whether for enrollment pathways like credit transfer or employment pathways like professional licensure, never before has the importance of providing secure and timely transcripts been greater. As AACRAO’s Survey on Transfer Credit Evaluation, Official Transcript Receipt & Delivery revealed, many institutions still rely on paper and campus facilities, which in recent times, has made transcript processing more difficult. Through our Parchment and Credentials Solutions network and AACRAO’s leadership, we’re offering a simple, low-commitment transcript issuing service that provides online requests, multi-format (electronic and paper) delivery services, fast implementation, and is no-cost to the institution. 

Join the conversation this Friday, Apr 24, at 2 PM Eastern.