As school guidance counselors brace for the height of the college application season, those in several Indiana school systems will face a far easier task this year, thanks to a new electronic transcript program that soon will be available at no charge to every school and student in the state.

Indiana students will be able to submit their high school transcripts electronically to colleges nationwide as part of a new statewide initiative launched last month that could be the first of its kind in the nation.

Called Indiana eTranscript, the program will link every Indiana high school with colleges in the state, as well as several colleges across the country. State education officials say it will cut from weeks to days the time it can take to process transcripts that are required by universities during the admissions process.

“Most colleges in Indiana allow you to apply electronically online,” said Stan Jones, Indiana’s commissioner of higher education. “The premium of applying online has been lost because of the slowness of the rest of the process.”

So far, about one-third of Indiana’s school corporations have signed up to use the program, along with all seven public colleges in the state and one-third of its private universities. Officials expect every high school and college in the state to use eTranscript over the next 15 months.

Using the program, students will be able to request a transcript by eMail. A high school guidance counselor will approve the request, and the transcript will be forwarded to colleges electronically.

Students will receive eMail messages updating them on the status of their request. State officials hope the program also will save guidance counselors from the onslaught of status requests from worried students.

On average, high school seniors apply to six colleges–each requiring its own transcript to record academic achievement. While schools struggle with budget shortfalls and under-funded federal mandates, overburdened counselors and administrators spend precious staff time processing transcripts: nearly $7 in labor and materials for every transcript sent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The $800,000 service is free to Indiana students, high schools, and colleges and is being paid for by the Indiana Secondary Market, a nonprofit organization that works to make college more affordable for the state’s students.

A primary barrier to sending high school transcripts electronically has been the varying protocols used by different institutions for sending and receiving electronic documents securely. In response to this dilemma, some companies have created solutions they say will translate data into a readable format, regardless of how it is initially sent (see “ A new solution for electronic transcripts“). But Indiana is believed to be the first state to offer such a service to all of its students.

John Reese, president of Docufide Inc., which was awarded the eTranscript contract with Indiana, said all data sent to his company–regardless of the format used by the sending institution–will be translated by the company’s server into XML protocol.

“We are printing some of the transcripts [and delivering them to the receiving institutions],” Reese said. “Some are sent as PDFs. By next year, 60 or 70 percent of all transcripts [sent in Indiana] will be electronic.”

When standards are established by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)–these are expected in early 2006–then “those standards will be adopted statewide,” Reese said. “We’ve been working with the PESC committee on high school transcripts.”

Michael Donahue, director of admissions at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), said colleges are excited about the eTranscript service, because even though the schools’ grading systems might be different, the information always will be in the same place.

“It probably saves a day or a day and a half of labor,” Donahue said.

Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said if Indiana’s program succeeds, it will be the first comprehensive statewide electronic transcript program in the nation.

“It’s been the Holy Grail of admissions to be able to transmit transcript data electronically,” Nassirian said. “If Indiana pulls it off, it will be significant. That would be marvelous, and it would be a good omen for the rest of the country.”

Docufide’s Reese, formerly of Citibank, which uses security protocols to carry out electronic banking transactions, said the transcripts will be secure.

Already the response to eTranscript, which is being tested on five schools, has been positive.

“For 20 years, I’ve been asking where is the electronic system,” said Lana Klene, guidance director at Lawrence North High School, an Indianapolis school that is among the high schools testing the system.

During the height of college admissions season–in the late fall and winter–the atmosphere “can be hellish” as students request transcripts and check on their status, she said.

Kandace Spaulding, a guidance counselor at Scottsburg High School, which does not yet use the system, said she spends at least 10 percent of her time fielding requests for transcripts from college-bound seniors each year.

“It’ll cut down on lag time and a chance for errors,” she said. “It’ll be better all the way around.”

State officials plan to add 100 high schools each quarter, with full statewide use by the end of 2006.

Links:

Docufide Inc.
http://www.docufide.com

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
http://www.aacrao.org

When standards are established by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)–these are expected in early 2006–then “those standards will be adopted statewide,” Reese said. “We’ve been working with the PESC committee on high school transcripts.”

Michael Donahue, director of admissions at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), said colleges are excited about the eTranscript service, because even though the schools’ grading systems might be different, the information always will be in the same place.

“It probably saves a day or a day and a half of labor,” Donahue said.

Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said if Indiana’s program succeeds, it will be the first comprehensive statewide electronic transcript program in the nation.

“It’s been the Holy Grail of admissions to be able to transmit transcript data electronically,” Nassirian said. “If Indiana pulls it off, it will be significant. That would be marvelous, and it would be a good omen for the rest of the country.”

Docufide’s Reese, formerly of Citibank, which uses security protocols to carry out electronic banking transactions, said the transcripts will be secure.

Already the response to eTranscript, which is being tested on five schools, has been positive.

“For 20 years, I’ve been asking where is the electronic system,” said Lana Klene, guidance director at Lawrence North High School, an Indianapolis school that is among the high schools testing the system.

During the height of college admissions season–in the late fall and winter–the atmosphere “can be hellish” as students request transcripts and check on their status, she said.

Kandace Spaulding, a guidance counselor at Scottsburg High School, which does not yet use the system, said she spends at least 10 percent of her time fielding requests for transcripts from college-bound seniors each year.

“It’ll cut down on lag time and a chance for errors,” she said. “It’ll be better all the way around.”

State officials plan to add 100 high schools each quarter, with full statewide use by the end of 2006.

Links:

Docufide Inc.
http://www.docufide.com

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
http://www.aacrao.org

When standards are established by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)–these are expected in early 2006–then “those standards will be adopted statewide,” Reese said. “We’ve been working with the PESC committee on high school transcripts.”

Michael Donahue, director of admissions at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), said colleges are excited about the eTranscript service, because even though the schools’ grading systems might be different, the information always will be in the same place.

“It probably saves a day or a day and a half of labor,” Donahue said.

Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said if Indiana’s program succeeds, it will be the first comprehensive statewide electronic transcript program in the nation.

“It’s been the Holy Grail of admissions to be able to transmit transcript data electronically,” Nassirian said. “If Indiana pulls it off, it will be significant. That would be marvelous, and it would be a good omen for the rest of the country.”

Docufide’s Reese, formerly of Citibank, which uses security protocols to carry out electronic banking transactions, said the transcripts will be secure.

Already the response to eTranscript, which is being tested on five schools, has been positive.

“For 20 years, I’ve been asking where is the electronic system,” said Lana Klene, guidance director at Lawrence North High School, an Indianapolis school that is among the high schools testing the system.

During the height of college admissions season–in the late fall and winter–the atmosphere “can be hellish” as students request transcripts and check on their status, she said.

Kandace Spaulding, a guidance counselor at Scottsburg High School, which does not yet use the system, said she spends at least 10 percent of her time fielding requests for transcripts from college-bound seniors each year.

“It’ll cut down on lag time and a chance for errors,” she said. “It’ll be better all the way around.”

State officials plan to add 100 high schools each quarter, with full statewide use by the end of 2006.

Links:

Docufide Inc.
http://www.docufide.com

American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
http://www.aacrao.org