Conventional college transcripts are similar to resumes providing evidence of enrollment and grades. However, outside of the awarded degree, they are unable to provide tangible evidence of knowledge, skills, and experience. This may change soon through the Comprehensive Student Record Project. If successful, the conventional college transcript may become more similar to a LinkedIn profile.

Post-secondary institutions are increasingly moving towards competency-based student evaluations. Over 300 post-secondary institutions track students’ level of proficiency—non-proficient, basic, or distinguished—yet they are still reported on traditional transcripts alongside final grades. In response to this, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) are working with over a dozen institutions in developing and piloting extensive digital student transcripts this fall.

The digital transcripts will act as a comprehensive portfolio, linking grades and learning outcomes to student projects, assignments, and extracurricular activities. For example, the University of Maryland University College will list specific program objectives on transcripts with progress bars to illustrate student proficiency. Clicking on the progress bars will pull up examples of the student’s projects, participation, and practicums to provide deeper insight into a student’s academic performance and professional capabilities.

Institutions like Stanford University are also developing ways to provide students and alumni with more control over their transcripts and academic information. Stanford’s MyLocker program will allow students and alumni to intuitively access their transcripts and tailor them with relevant examples of projects and assignments. Instead of having to request a physical copy of the transcript, individuals will be able to instantly export signed authentic digital copies to potential graduate schools or employers.

As they currently exist, traditional transcripts only tell a fraction of a student’s knowledge and capabilities. However, if the Comprehensive Student Record Project is successful it may revolutionize academic transcripts the way LinkedIn transformed the resume.

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About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also board member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and contributes as a communications researcher with McMaster University.