46: Reinventing Student Transcripts at Elon University w/ Rodney Parks


Dr. Rodney Parks, University Registrar at Elon University, discusses how to rethink the traditional academic transcript to be much more useful for students and employers and to convey more accurately the student’s entire co-curricular experience.

For an institution to be effective in building a comprehensive picture of that student experience, those two divisions really have to work closely with one another. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Dr Rodney Parks, university registrar at Elon University. Rod, welcome to the show. Thanks, thanks for having me really excited to talk to you today about how Elon University is looking to reinvent the student transcript to be much more useful for graduating students. Before we dig into that, Rod, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Elon University and your role there? Yeah, Elon University. We're a private school about sixty seven hundred students. I'm the university registrar and I'm also assistant to the provost. I've made at a line for about five years back in two thousand and thirteen, and certainly we've made a number of changes when it comes to academic records at the institution's over that time, and that's what we're going to dig intoday, those changes. Can we start off this conversation by reminding listeners of the value of a traditional academic transcript, what it's typically used for and what are the use cases it provides value for today, before we talk about how you've rethought that approach? Sure, when you really think about academic transcripts, you know for the past five six decades, you know those transcripts haven't changed hardly at all. Back in the day, you know, with transcripts were handwritten, but the type of information that was stored on those transcripts is very similar today as it...

...was many decades ago. For years, academic transcripts have always been used to certify to employers that they have the necessary skills and abilities to take that next step forward and show that they have a bachelor's degree that makes them eligible to obtain a lot of jobs that have a requirement that students or scholars have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. But over the years registrars across the country have started to see fewer and fewer requests for the traditional academic transcript, and part of the argument is that the transcript doesn't contain enough information for employers or third parties to really know what that student has accomplished in that four year academic experience. And so, as we see fewer and through a request, a lot of employers today simply bypass ordering a transcript completely and go straight to the national student clearing house to verify that the student has earned a bachelor's degree. So all the data and information that we're storing is really not being passed on in a legible way that employers feel that it youthful or even want to use anymore. We still see the academic transcript as the document that graduate schools are using primarily. So very different, you know, when you think about what it was like in the past versus verses today, especially in terms of how employers are or asking for and using the academic transcript. So if we're looking to move beyond merely certified proof of completion definitionally, can you help us understand the difference between that purely academic transcript and a co curricular transcript like what you're developing a delon? Sure, absolutely so. The Lan's actually had a CO curricular transcript since one thousand nine hundred and ninety four. A lot of these transcripts originated out of the student affair side to document what was seen as a comprehensive...

...picture of that four year experience. So, you know, early educators felt that, you know, higher education was much more than just capt capturing the classes alone. They actually wanted to know look at some of these other experiences that students had and feel felt that they provided value. Coup's work actually, you know, show that that the a lot of those cocurricular experience had tremendous value, value to employers, value to students. And so elan recognize that back in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four and began to track, initially for experiences and then in the early two thousand moved to a fifth experience. Today Elon tracks, you know, global education, research, internship, leadership and service as the five core experiences used at the institution, and we even build them in to the degree audit itself. So students have to complete two units of those five experiences to graduate from the institution. So they're even built into the foundation of the institution. This in the similar way that all of the academic courses are built in. So paint us a picture of what this, what you call a visual experiential transcript, looks like today and what purposes is a serve today? Yeah, so when I joined the Elan in two thousand and thirteen, the initially when I took a look at the Co curricular transcript, it was a text based document done by term. It didn't have a lot of information that was different than the academic transcript because there's overlap between the two transcripts. You know, for Global Education, you would steal seek global education on an academic transcript, but on the CO curricular transcript it was basically trying to.

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