“Training for international credential evaluators often focuses on degree equivalency, when in reality there are a lot more students coming into the U.S. with incomplete degrees,” said Garrett Seelinger, senior evaluator at InCred. A student may be trying to transfer a couple of classes, or they may be halfway or just a couple credits shy of a degree.
Seelinger says there are a number of strategies for giving students fair evaluations.
Create a natural progression
Evaluators have to balance competing priorities.
“Institutional staff who deal with transfer credit have an important job: To serve the student and give them a path toward graduation without forcing them to retake coursework, while also with protecting the integrity of the university degree,” Seelinger said. “They have to create circumstances for a natural progression for the student.”
To do that, evaluators need to have a number of creative solutions up their sleeves, and also begin to recognize common hurdles in foreign credential evaluation. There’s no “one-size-fits-all-situations” approach.
“The people who are the best at the job are always learning more instead of just relying on the same system they’ve always been using,” Seelinger said. “International students tend to provide new challenges all the time, so more knowledge helps you be better at coming up with creative solutions.”
Strategies for evaluators
For example, at InCred, Seelinger is evaluating students who are seeking athletic eligibility in NAIA.
“One of my main concerns is establishing how many terms they were enrolled full time,” Seelinger said. “Often transcripts show when final exams were taken but not necessarily terms of enrollment, so we have to do work to figure out when that coursework was taken.”
Sometimes you have to do research into overall degree plans, review university websites, or contact universities to piece together appropriate conversions.
Join us in L.A.
Seelinger and Martha Van Devender (Senior Evaluator at Educational Credentials Evaluation) are co-presenting a session "Evaluating Incomplete International Education: Tip & Tricks for Transfer and More" at the AACRAO Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. The session will share transcripts from variety of countries that exemplify particular problems and offer attendees a variety of tools for evaluation. Click here to find more international content at the AACRAO Annual Meeting, March 31-April 3, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Both Seelinger and Van Devender also part of AACRAO's Cuba Project. Learn more.