Originally published on InContext, a Lexmark website.
At higher education institutions around the country, transfer students are an increasingly important piece of the enrollment pie. And the faster you can get transfer credit evaluation information to potential students, the faster they can make a decision to enroll at your school.
What’s the solution for getting better course transfer information to more students, faster? Automating your transcript processing workflow.
If you’re not familiar with automatic transcript processing, join us as we go behind the scenes and follow the path of a typical transcript from start to finish.
1. Capture and classify transcripts
Sophie, Brendan and Jake are prospective students applying to your school. They fill out applications and request transcripts from their current schools. While Sophie’s community college sends the transcript electronically through a secure service like Parchment or Scrip Safe, Brendan’s high school mails him a paper copy. Jake’s electronic military transcript is in a completely different format.
All of these formats can be captured with an enterprise content management system like Perceptive Content. Content captures each transcript as an image and then sends it to an intelligent capture system like Intelligent Capture for Transcripts for processing.
ICT works its magic on Sophie’s, Brendan’s, and Jake’s electronic transcript images to do an initial analysis of each document and classify it as a high school, college, or military transcript. Since each of these transcript types are different, the system has different rules about how to process the details in each one.
2. Extract data from transcript
Now that the three transcripts have been classified into the buckets of high school, college, and military, ICT extracts the data from each.
Sophie’s community college transcript is pretty straightforward: the software uses extraction logic to pull data line by line, from the header information like her name and school down to individual coursework including the course number, title, letter grade, and credit hours. This data is all captured in an electronic form, which is basically a container in which to store that data that’s uniform across transcripts.
Since Brendan’s transcript came from his high school, the engine will extract header data but not the coursework unless your school also has the high school coursework add-on called Intelligent Capture for Transcripts Plus. This additional engine is the industry’s first high school coursework extractor that helps schools fully leverage critical high school coursework data automatically. Either way, Brendan’s data is extracted and moved on in step 3.
Jake’s transcript contained some information that the extractor didn’t recognize, so it was set aside for a verifier to take a look and confirm or correct the information. Once the information is verified, Jake’s transcript also moves to step 3.
3. Send data to SIS and perform a transfer credit evaluation
Let’s keep moving forward with Sophie’s transcript. Now that all her information has been extracted and put into an electronic form, that form makes a call on your school’s Student Information System and sends Sophie’s data over so it’s recorded in the SIS.
If your school has the course equivalency add-on, the form doesn’t just leave the transcript data in the SIS. It asks for data in return; namely, the course equivalencies your school has stored in the SIS that match up with Sophie’s transcript from the community college.
At this point, you may be thinking, “But we don’t have course equivalencies created in the SIS!” No worries—it’s a process you’ll have time to focus on as transcript processing is automated. St. Petersburg College in Florida faced the same issue, and they tackled course equivalencies by identifying their top ten feeder schools and inputting those first, then working through the priority list on a rolling basis. It was the quickest way to make a big impact on what felt like a daunting project and immediately see results by starting with schools with the most volume of transfer applications.
4. SIS returns the visit
The Perceptive Content eform paid a visit on your SIS and delivered the transcript data; now your SIS pays a return visit on to eform and brings the course equivalency information as a hostess gift.
5. Display data in Content for review
Now, all the data—Sophie’s transcript information and your school’s course equivalencies—are in both Perceptive Content and your SIS. Your staff can take a quick look at how Sophie’s transfer credits came out using the Content portal.
On Sophie’s transcript, we see that her English 101 at the community college is equivalent to English 102 at your school. Perfect!
However, Sophie’s Biology 101 had a separate lab at 3 credits and 1 respectively, while your Biology 101 includes the lab for 4 credits. The SIS has returned a “no equivalency found” on that line.
At this point in the process, many schools have an auxiliary process in which a staff member reviews those “no equivalency found” responses and add equivalencies to their SIS as needed. This ensures that the equivalency database is kept up to date and that individual students receive the credit they need to transfer courses.
6. Store data in student record and distribute
Once any equivalency issues are resolved, the data is sent back to and stored in the SIS and made available on the student record. Different schools allow different levels of access to this information, from registrar only, to registrar and student advisors, to giving students access to the data via a web portal.
Student access is the best option for two reasons: one, it gives instant access to transfer credits so the student can make a decision faster; and two, it allows students to go online and do self-service rather than calling and asking for a status update, which slows down staff and keeps them from providing a higher and faster level of student service.
Sophie, for one, was pretty excited to submit her application and transcript on Tuesday and get a notification by Thursday that she was in and that all but one of her classes would transfer. She accepted, bought herself a university sweatshirt and posted a selfie on Instagram, and can’t wait to start at your school next semester.
Get inspired by your fellow schools’ success with automated transcript processing and transfer credit evaluation.