What transcript evaluators need to be successful

October 15, 2018
  • Competencies
  • Meetings, Workshops, and Trainings
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • Transfer and Articulation
  • Webinars
individual flexes their biceps while wearing a cape and looking at the sunrise Transfer credit evaluators play a critical and consequential role on campus. But often their work may not be well understood or sufficiently supported.

“Because their role is so important, transfer credit evaluators should have good training and resources,” said Katie Schwienteck, York College of Pennsylvania Associate Registrar for Transfer Articulation at York College of Pennsylvania and Chair for AACRAO’s Transfer and Articulation Committee [link]. 

At the July 2018 AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, Schwienteck co-presented the “Transfer Toolkit” session, and spoke with colleagues about ways that institutions can support transfer staff, and what the evaluators’ biggest needs were.

“One thing that came up over and over again was learning the components of a transcript and how to read it,” she said. “Although every school produces a transcript, the components are different based on their credit unit.”

How to read a transcript
Transcripts typically have a course number, a grade, and a GPA. But not all colleges have the same way of listing courses, calculating GPA (e.g. cumulative or by semester), or articulating course descriptions. 

“That can be intimidating when someone new to the role comes in and realizes there’s no standard transcript,” Schwienteck said.

Adequate training can help evaluators identify components that are common to transcripts but appear differently in different variations, so they can more easily recognize them when they see them again. And evaluators can leverage the following resources:
Class codes. Many transcripts place codes next to classes. “These vary from institution to institution, and may spark the need to dig deeper,” Schwienteck said.
Transcript keys. Check the back or magins of the record for a key to interpretation. 
Technology tools. “If you see something not instantly recognizable or interpretable with the key, use the tools at your fingertips,” Schwienteck said. “Some institutions have homegrown databases they use to keep track, others use vendors to search.”
Professional network. “Reach out to the AACRAO listserv,” she recommended. “Or just pick up the phone and contact the registrar at the institution the transcript is from.”

Navigating course descriptions
“Every institution provides course descriptions in different styles,” Schwienteck said. “Some descriptions are one sentence, some are ten sentences. You have to learn to get those descriptions depending on the resources available to you, and know when you need more information. Then you have to learn how to read them and compare to your own institution’s courses. You have to know your own courses and be familiar with your curriculum to be able to compare.”

When assessing a course description, the industry standard is to give credit for a 70 percent content match, according to Schwienteck, using comparisons including keywords and learning outcomes. Sometimes, you may need to dig deeper -- work with faculty or get a syllabus from the student. 

Support transcript evaluations
Schwienteck will share more insight about how to train transcript evaluators, what evaluators need to know to do their jobs, the importance of technology in this role, the components of a transcript and how to read them, navigating course descriptions, and more in free AACRAO webinar on October 29, 2018. Both transcript evaluators and supervisors are welcome to this session. 

Join the AACRAO webinar -- Monday, October 29, 2018, 2-3 PM ET, or stream it at your convenience.



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