Monday, July 18, 2011
The Pursuit of Transcripts All Over the World
For 15 years I worked at Colorado State University as the Admission Coordinator for the Master of Social Work applicants. That was only part of my position, but the admission process took up the majority of my time from January through April. A huge part of that process was the calculation of grade point averages for each applicant. Some folks apply for graduate school having gone to only one school for their undergrad degree. Most have 2-3 schools along the way, at least for a class here and there. Some have had as many as 10 schools they have attended in pursuit of their bachelor's degree. Some were so old that the grades were handwritten. Some were typewritten. Computers made things much easier, but there are literally hundreds of different formats.
Figuring grade point averages is a tedious task. I figured out a rough estimate of how many of those documents I worked with in those 15 years, and came up with approximately 5600. I often lamented that I wished there was some consistency - that every college or university had the same format. That everyone had the semester system and nobody had the trimester system. That everyone had 4 points for an A and 0 points for an F. That nobody used + or - with their grades.
So why, you might ask, am I harping about this old news? It has to do with Kevin trying to get back into school to finish those last few credits for his degree. I offered/agreed to help him by ordering the transcripts from everywhere he went to school. He has limited time, ability, and resources to get this done. This is when I really wished that every college or university had the same rules and regulations for ordering transcripts.
Did you know that no matter how long you've been out of high school, and no matter how many previous colleges you've gone to, you still have to dredge up that old transcript and send it to the university where you're applying?
Kev attended the local community college for a welding course, and maybe another 2 or 3 credits. They would not let me order it. He couldn't call it in. He could do it on line - but it didn't work for him. He had to fill out a paper copy of the transcript request, sign it, and turn it in - and since he's far far away, it could be faxed.
Colorado State University has several possible methods, too, but fortunately he was here in town, getting Angie moved, so he was able to walk into the office and have it in his hand in a few minutes.
Biola University was easy to work with - they let me order it by phone, no problem at all.
The biggest challenge of all, as you can probably imagine, was his Africa Nazarene University transcript. He only attended there one semester (long enough to meet Angie, fall in love, and change the entire course of his life, and ours), and only had 12 credits there. I wish we'd ordered several copies before he left there, or the last time he applied for college.
I wrote to my missionary friend at Africa Nazarene University and asked her the name and e-address of the person I needed to contact in Records. I wrote that person - keep in mind that there is a 10-hour time difference between here and Nairobi. Therefore, whatever I send there is seen the next day, and whatever she answers is not seen until the next day, so it's a three day process just to get a message back and forth. She couldn't find him, because they had him listed as Carlson Kevin, not Carlson, Kevin. It took several more days to get that resolved, and I ended up calling her to resolve things. It took another couple of days to figure out how to pay for the three copies we decided we should get, just in case.
Wow, was that ever an ordeal! They charge a ridiculous amount of money to run off a transcript - about 3 times what anybody else charges. Then there's the part about transferring $32.00 from my bank to a bank in Nairobi, which was then put into an account for ANU. The total was $98.00 for 3 transcripts.
So, I thought it was all taken care of. Several days later an envelope arrived from Africa. I opened it to be sure they had sent everything I had paid for. Big mistake. I send the envelope on to Kev, and he sent one copy to the University of Maine, and was informed a few days later that they could not accept the transcript because it wasn't in a sealed envelope. I understand that, I really do. But Kevin tried to convince them that they should consider the fact that the transcripts were from a third world country, but they wouldn't budge.
So - I wrote my friend again and asked her to intervene for us with the Records office - to tell them I wanted them to replace one of the transcripts free of charge, this time sent in a sealed envelope, with a signature across the seal on the back. My missionary friend wrote me back to tell me they would re-do the order, but not free of charge. But they were going to pay out of their pockets. I assumed I would repay them, but so far I haven't heard from them about the amount.
The coolest thing about this latest situation - there was a group from America there working on the campus, returning to the US yesterday. They were to bring the transcript back and send it overnight as soon as they get back here. It really pays to have good friends in far away places.
Well, this has probably bored you all stiff, but I just had to put it all down to believe it! I'm just trusting that U Maine doesn't come up with any more problems with this crazy, convoluted process - a process much ore difficult than any I've ever seen, in my years of working with transcripts.
We're off to Maine to visit Kev and Angie on Thursday - there's much to do in the next two days. Then we'll be home a day and will head to the mountains for time with my extended family. Only about 28 of the 55 will be there, but we'll have a great time. Among other things, we'll be celebrating my folks' 65th anniversary.