Should transcripts get a makeover?

When applying to any job, we submit CVs and transcripts. Writing that CV is grueling work and most of us put it off to the last minute. What if the university could just write one for us? All we’d have to is click “Print” on Beartracks. At some schools, the old way of doing things needs an upgrade and they’ve set out to make it happen.

Recently, UBC proposed a change to the current way transcripts are written. They proposed a Comprehensive Learning Record (CLR), which would include information about the extra- and co-curricular activities a student is involved in along with their academic record. The academic record only shows what the student has learned in the classroom, but learning occurs in many ways, and the out-of-classroom skills that students gain should be just as important.

The changeover to using the CLR would take part over four phases. This wouldn’t be the first time a Canadian institution has changed the old transcript model. Other schools have done the same, or are in the process of changing, including the University of Calgary, but should the University of Alberta do the same?

To me, the CLR sounds exactly like a CV. It’s a way to have all a student’s information in one place instead of having several separate documents. Kate Ross, the VP of Enrollment Services at UBC, stated that the CLR would help make students’ CVs seem more legitimate to employers by validating the student’s involvement in their community and school since the CLR would be an official university document the same way a transcript is now.

Despite Ross’ explanation, I don’t see how the benefits would be different from current CVs and I don’t see a need for the CLR. In fact, I think employers gain more insight into a potential student-for-hire just based on how they have written their resume. It’s a document that requires us to show humility and dignity and yet brag about all the achievements we’ve accomplished at the same time. We have to thread the needle carefully and seem confident but not arrogant, capable but not overqualified, a strong leader but also a team player.

If this document and its contents were to be written as an official document by the Office of the Registrar, it would become formulaic, bland, and lose the small spark of personality a CV has. The way a student writes their experiences and achievements in the resume say something about them. It shows which ones they were passionate about, which ones they really enjoyed, and gives the employer a look into how they might fit into the team and workplace. Having the transcript be separate from work and volunteer experience lets the employer see both the academic and extracurricular side of the student.

I see no need for the University of Alberta to change the current transcript model to a CLR model. If it works at other universities and improves student employment, the U of A might be more likely to adopt the change. Until then, our transcripts are staying the way they are. And we still have to write our resumes and CVs ourselves, possibly begrudgingly if you’re anything like me. However in the end, the effort we put in our CVs is worth it when we get that golden phone call offering the job.