Late Transcripts Hurt Students’ Opportunities

 A delay in printing transcripts this January may have jeopardized students’ chances for internships scholarships, fellowships and graduate school.

Janelle Jennings, a 2007 Florida A&M alumnus, is one such student. After finding out her transcripts would not be ready on time, Jennings could not complete her application to Florida State University’s graduate school in time to be considered for the Legacy Fellowship.

“I was informed that because I didn’t have official transcripts that they had to remove my packet from their recommendations for the fellowship, so I missed out on essentially $50,000,” said Jennings.

According to Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Palm, transcripts were delayed because the registrar’s office ordered new security paper to print the documents. Palm attests to transitions occurring at the registrar’s office.

Recently, Janet Johnson resigned as official university registrar, and Vernese Wade, former assistant registrar under Johnson, was named the interim, according to Palm. A letter dated Jan. 3, said that the “current Official Transcript Security Paper [was] undergoing minor revisions.” These “minor revisions” included replacing Johnson’s name with Wade’s.

The Jan.3 letter was part of the registrar office’s “due diligence” in communicating with the programs to which the transcripts were being sent. “We would call the graduate program and let them know that we’re going to send you an unofficial transcript with a letter on it indicating that we are in the process of modifying our transcript paper and that you will be receiving the official one within two or three days,” said Palm.

Students that requested transcripts were not informed of the delay, however. Tamieka Atkinson, 19, a first-year chemistry pre-med student from Miami, requested transcripts on Jan. 10 for an internship with a Jan. 26 deadline. When she requested them, Atkinson was unaware of problems.

“No one told me anything,” said Atkinson. Instead, the letter was not given to her until she “kept on pestering them” for her transcripts’ status.

The effort to contact programs helped students whose transcripts were actually sent from the registrar’s office. But for students like Jennings and Atkinson who planned to pick-up transcripts and did not specify where they were going, the effort was of no assistance.

Palm wants to help those students.

“We had some things in place, but again, if one of them slipped through, then we didn’t do our job,” he said. “And so, I want to make sure that if we have an opportunity to mend it and fix it, then please have them come see me.”

To alleviate future transcript issues, the registrar’s office is preparing for online transcript requests in which students will be able to have transcripts ordered online and mailed overnight, said Palm. When asked for a projection on when it will be implemented, he replied, “we were looking maybe in the next two or three weeks.”

Palm also encourages students to be aware of any financial holds they may have.

“A lot of anger is taken out on the registrar’s office when all they do is process,” but financial holds cannot be lifted at the registrar’s office, he said. Instead, a student should visit student accounts to pay any debt to the university.

A search committee for a new registrar has been formed with the possibility of a new one named in the next few weeks, and transcripts are being printed. As of Jan. 26 and 27, Jennings and Atkinson have received their official transcripts respectively.

Along with gaining a new registrar, the registrar’s office has made the transition from student affairs to academic affairs. Palm calls it “a decision from the leadership team because of the overlap of academic issues and the registrar’s office.”