Improving the Applicant Experience and Institutional Results Through Transcript Services

Courtney CumminsEnrollment ManagerFebruary 22, 2024

As the landscape of higher education continues to be fraught with enrollment challenges, steep competition, and rising costs, university leaders often find themselves in the unpleasant position of determining how to do more with less. What can be implemented to remove barriers for prospective students, improving their experience and institutional outcomes, while not sacrificing legitimacy or precious time and energy along the way? One area that fits that need is using transcript services, which is why RNL has added this to our roster of solutions.

Why are transcript services important?

RNL Transcript Services-Picture of a computer with checkboxes on the screen
RNL Transcript Services take an requirement off a prospective student’s plate.

Minimizing obstacles to an applicant’s experience is critical. , A 2023 RNL survey indicates the need for admissions processes to be fast, necessary, and as personalized as possible for optimal success. RNL Transcript Services can speed up and smooth out this step in the enrollment process.

Meets a universal requirement: The need for prior transcripts as part of admissions’ applications is universal. Regardless of degree level or program of study, institutions always need transcripts to verify applicants’ prior experience and eligibility.

Must be fast: Immediately after receiving an applicant’s Transcript Release Form(s) (explanation forthcoming), an RNL Enrollment Specialist will complete the necessary steps to complete the transcript order(s). Whether the order is through a service like Parchment or the applicant’s prior institution directly, the Enrollment Specialist will complete the order and ensure the transcript is provided to the institution. Guess work and leg work for applicants to obtain and submit their prior transcripts is greatly diminished.

Needs to be personalized: RNL Enrollment Specialists can communicate directly with applicants to help with the process. If questions arise, the Enrollment Specialist will assist the applicant and communicate with the university partner if needed.

How does RNL Transcript Services work?

Simply put, a team of dedicated Enrollment Specialists take on the challenge of ordering transcripts on behalf of applicants.Those transcripts are provided to the institution as part of the applicant’s admissions materials. RNL also covers the cost of transcript order(s) on behalf of applicants, lowering their out-of-pocket expense and removing a potential barrier to completing an application. RNL Transcript Services is offered as part of our RNL Enable product, or as a stand-alone service.

RNL Transcript Process
  1. As part of the application checklist, applicants are prompted to complete one Transcript Release Form per prior institution they have attended (example here). The form is free, easily accessible, and transmits directly to the RNL Enrollment Specialist upon submission. The purpose of the form is for applicants to provide the institution with permission to order transcripts on their behalf.
  2. Once an applicant’s Transcript Release Form(s) is received, the Enrollment Specialist orders the transcript(s) and completes any payment necessary for the order. That’s right, we are paying for these orders, too!
  3. Throughout the process, the Enrollment Specialist can communicate with the applicant and/or institution to provide updates and support.
  4. We have automated workflows in place to notify Enrollment Specialists when Transcript Release Forms and transcripts are received, ensuring the process is efficient and timely.
  5. Typically, the official transcripts are received by the Enrollment Specialist, date stamped and verified, and then electronically transmitted to the institution. This part of the process can be adjusted depending on the institution’s needs and preferences.

Results from RNL Transcript Services

In 2023 alone, RNL Transcript Services ordered over 1,700 transcripts to support applicants of our partner institutions and we have successfully received approximately 85 percent of those ordered to date. Additionally, the 2023 data show that using our transcript service is positively correlated with students completing their full application: close to 60 percent of applicants who did not submit a Transcript Release Form also did not complete their application.

Other challenges Transcript Services solve

Applicant-only orders: Some institutions will not accept orders from any entity other than the former student. When this occurs, the Enrollment Specialist can provide the applicant with the specific information needed to complete the order with their former school, including the Registrar’s office website link or any other pertinent details. While this requires a little more work on the part of the applicant, they do not need to figure out where to go or how to complete the transcript order on their own. In these cases, students likely will need to remit payment for the order themselves, too, but we have a helpful solution: RNL can reimburse for the cost of transcript orders we are unable to complete on behalf of applicants.

Additional consent needed: Often when transcript orders are through a service like the National Student Clearinghouse, an additional electronic signature is needed for the order to be completed. In these cases, the Enrollment Specialist can reach out to the applicant directly to provide guidance on submitting the needed signature and ensure it is completed quickly.

No Transcript Release Form is received: Applicants will occasionally already order transcripts on their own, or they may miss the Transcript Release Form on their checklist for one reason or another. In these cases, if they realize after ordering transcripts that they missed the Transcript Release Form, they can still submit it and we will still assist with the process as we typically would. This often results in their transcripts being received more quickly, as we often see that applicants have not had their order sent to the correct place or have otherwise made an error in their order. We can also still assist with reimbursement if an applicant ordered and paid for transcripts without our assistance.

Transcript holds: After ordering a transcript, the Enrollment Specialist will be notified if the transcript is unavailable due to a hold. In these cases, the Enrollment Specialist can contact the student with the information needed for them to follow up with the school in question to resolve the hold.

Transcript does not arrive: On rare occasions, the Enrollment Specialist may complete a transcript order without issue and have confirmation of its completion, but neither the institution nor the Enrollment Specialist has received the transcript. If this occurs, the Enrollment Specialist can take steps to verify the accuracy of the order’s completion, again taking a step off the student’s plate. If the transcript cannot be located after exhausting all avenues for finding it, the Enrollment Specialist can help the student re-order a copy and reimburse for any charges that may have been incurred.

Want to learn more? Contact us.

RNL Transcript Services are part of RNL Enable for graduate and online enrollment, and can also be used as a standalone service. Find out more by talking with our experts.

About the Author

Courtney Cummins

Courtney Cummins leads RNL's admissions and student services teams to help our campus partners achieve their goals for enrollment and continuing student retention. She works directly with the the leadership and admissions teams of colleges...

Read more about Courtney's experience and expertise

Reach Courtney by e-mail at Courtney.Cummins@RuffaloNL.com.

Read More Blogs By: Courtney Cummins