The University of Southern California was faced with evaluating transfer credits for thousands of new students who were slated to arrive for orientation during a short two-week cycle in the summer of 2020. They needed a transfer credit automation solution to help them with that enormous task.
The Tech Decision
Previously the institution didn’t have technology in place to perform the work of evaluating all of those incoming credits as rapidly as needed.
Without quick answers, students risked losing credit through registering for courses for which they might later receive transfer credit.
In order to remedy the problem and take a more proactive approach to evaluating and assigning transfer credit, USC partnered with CollegeSource to engineer a robust, self-service transfer credit automation engine that automated the process to deliver reliable, properly formatted (course prefix and suffix information matching transcript reporting), rapid results.
CollegeSource’s solution offers a self-service student interface that allows students to report their academic history along with a unique identifier sent to them by USC.
The service then packages up each student’s data in a SPEEDE/EDI shell and sends it off to the National Student Clearinghouse SPEEDE server as an unofficial transcript.
When this transcript is picked up by automation on the USC side, it passes through their established equivalencies in CollegeSource’s uAchieve degree audit solution, and identifies any unevaluated courses.
These evaluation opportunities are then couched in an evaluation form for USC staff, along with course and context data from the CollegeSource database, retrieved through an API.
The first and only manual step in the process is when a staff member is presented with the form and all relevant information to identify the correct equivalency, which is automatically written back into the transfer articulation rules stored in uAchieve.
The result is that USC is now capable of evaluating transfer credit for 100% of the incoming coursework for this summer’s batch of potential transfer students well ahead of the two-week orientation window.
As each student’s real transcript arrives (not self-reported, but originating from their previous institutions), all their incoming credit will have accurate and ready answers in the form of established equivalencies.
This frees USC to invest time in planning an accurate and timely path to graduation with each student – without the pain and frustration of possible credit loss/duplication.
The self-reported credit interface developed by CollegeSource has had a significant impact on USC’s ability to serve transfer students by offering rapid and proactive course credit evaluation.
USC sent out 8,200 emails to transfer prospect students on April 1st. In the first 12 hours, the project received and processed over 1,623 student entries – translating to more than 24,000 individual courses being reported accurately.
In the short two and one-half weeks the service was open, nearly one third of invited applicants successfully self-reported their prior and in progress course work.
This automated approach has freed up the university’s staff to focus on higher priority activities that ensure transfer student success and has provided newly admitted transfers better information for orientation, advising and registration.
USC could not have been more thrilled at the initial response to the pilot, and the reliability of the data it provided.
As communicated by Associate University Registrar Matt Bemis, “We were overwhelmed with the response rate and accuracy of reporting that took place during the short pilot period for this project.
Without fanfare, or advertising, our prospective students jumped into the service feet first, with the level of success that surprised everyone. The service was so intuitive, that of the 3400 students who self-reported, fewer than 2% sent an inquiry asking for additional information to our email helpdesk.”
The USC Articulation Officer, Eric Kidder, was also quick to provide feedback, saying, “Clearly this tool is useful. It may enable USC to be in a position to offer provisional Transfer Credit Reports with admission offers in the future. That would be a game changer.”
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