The Voice: Winter 2001
Transcripts soon available online
by Cara Miedema DeHaan
Beginning January 1, 2001, former and current Dordt students will be able to view their Dordt College transcripts online, print out an unofficial version, and/or fill out an online form requesting that an official transcript be sent to the address of their choice.
Due to federal legislation mandating that academic information may not be released without proof of identification_that is, a signature_students have had to write or fax their transcript requests to the registrar's office.
In order to offer transcripts online, the registrar had to ensure two things: first, that academic information and accompanying social security numbers remain secure; and second, that online requests remain tied to a written signature.
The first issue was solved when computer services acquired software for a secure web server, which is already being used by faculty to access students' transcripts. To deal with the second issue, students and alumni will be asked to send in a card with their signature and a self- selected personal identification number (PIN). They will then enter the PIN on the secure web server in order to view their transcript and request an official version. The registrar will be notified of these requests by e-mail.
Registrar Jim Bos is excited about this development. A lot of alumni have said they'd really appreciate this, said Bos. He indicated that alumni often need official transcripts in a very short amount of time. He added, And it'll be nice for us, because it will mean less time processing transcripts.
The registrar's office currently has electronic transcripts for all alumni after 1993, which is the year Dordt began generating transcripts electronically. It also holds electronic transcripts for most alumni after 1986, which is the first year academic records were stored at Dordt (before that, they were stored on a computer at Westmar College). Office staff should have earlier records entered and have all transcripts available after one or two more summers of data entry.
Bos said that online transcript-request forms are uncommon, first of all because, unlike Dordt, most colleges charge to distribute transcripts. Secondly, most institutions have a longer history (and thus more alumni academic records) than Dordt. Because Dordt is relatively young, computerizing its records is a less mammoth process than it would be for older institutions.
The registrar, in cooperation with computer services, plans to expand online services so that current students can view their semester grades online. Bos hopes that by Fall 2001, most students will choose to view their grades online rather than having reports mailed to them.