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The Registrar’s Contribution to Student Success – The Credential Process

J. James Wager, Consultant & Education Strategist

August 29, 2016
 
This new five-part series will touch on The Registrar’s Contribution to Student Success.
 

Much has been written regarding the broad topic of Student Success.  In fact, this term has many meanings to different people and organizations.  Is it a strategy to promote retention and graduation?  Is the process driven by a designated campus champion?  Does it involve the full utilization of data to see the big picture?  Are traditional administrative “silos” replaced with student-centered experiences? Student success outcomes represent intentional strategies to accomplish all of this and more. 

What role does the collegiate Registrar play in this approach?  As the school official responsible for maintaining the academic records of its students, the Registrar plays a critical role and has specific opportunities to help the school, and its students, achieve positive and desired outcomes.

Academic transcripts represent micro-focused transactions between the student and the student’s designated recipient.  These transactions are critically important. The timeliness, accuracy, and completeness of the transaction are obviously important, but of equal value is the contribution these transactions make to the bigger picture.  Are there patterns of why and where transcripts are being sent?   Why are students asking for copies of their transcripts to be delivered to another school?  Are there course articulation agreements in place with these schools? Are the school’s programs providing the needs of employers?   Is the student provided the support to compare their completed courses against degree programs offered by other schools?  All of these are strategic issues for the Registrar.

The physical process of a student requesting a copy of their transcript or enrollment/degree verification should not be taken lightly.  The student experience is very important to consider.  Students must feel they are receiving good customer service and not dealing with a complex, bureaucratic process.

Traditionally, the transcript ordering process began with the student completing a request form and mailing, or personally presenting, the form and required payment to the Registrar’s Office.  While some schools continue this paper-based practice, many have implemented a more customer-focused online ordering process.

Regardless of the actual work-flow, whether paper-based or online, there are overarching issues that can complicate the transcript ordering process:

  • Does the student actually have an academic record with the school?
  • Are there “hold conditions” that are preventing the release of the transcript?
  • Have the FERPA signature release requirements been satisfied?
  • Has payment (if required) been made?
  • Has the recipient been clearly identified?
  • Is the student informed when their request is received and when the transcript is sent?
  • Is a confirmation provided when the recipient actually receives the transcript?

In dealing with these issues, the ordering process can easily and quickly lead to pleasant outcomes where the students feel like they are being served, or frustrating outcomes where the student feels their school is not concerned with their success.

But sometimes improved technology is not enough.  While a transcript ordering process can be very efficient, the effectiveness may be lost if the process is not supported by a high-touch customer support.  For many students, there is a genuine need to talk to someone that can provide instruction, resolve issues, or often just to offer assurance that everything is on-track.  The absence of personalized, knowledgeable customer support results in student frustration.

In the next article, I will discuss the Registrar’s role of identifying at-risk students.

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