Maintaining student records

One of the primary responsibilities of the “records officer” is to properly maintain student records.  While that may sound a bit trite, there is actually much more to consider than just transcript data.  First of all, for most of us, there is the question: When do the records move from admissions to the registrar’s office? While there are a multitude of ways to accomplish this, it’s important to identify who is responsible for the data being complete and for correcting any errors.

Whether your office uses document imaging, electronic files or paper records, there are sure to be instances where information is found to be inaccurate and knowing whose job it is to update the various data points on new students will ensure a smoother transition.

Document, document, document

The ongoing task of maintaining student records can become a challenge if appropriate documentation is not available.

Below is a partial list of events or actions which result in a change to the record.  Do you have written policies for each of these?  Are there clear procedures that staff can follow when confronted with any of these changes?  Have those procedures been reviewed recently to ensure they are up-to-date?

  • Change of college/majors
  • Name changes
  • Social Security number changes
  • Gender changes
  • Grade changes
  • Credit by examination, placement or proficiency exams
  • Academic forgiveness/Fresh Starts
  • Scholastic dismissal/probation/reinstatements
  • Restriction of Directory Information
  • Deceased student procedures

Don’t wait for a crisis

New registrars should add this task to the top of their to-do lists. And all of us should make time to review our procedures on a regular basis and update them as necessary. Don’t wait until you’re faced with the situation to try and craft a policy to address it!  And of course, at the top of your list should be a records retention policy that addresses how long all of the records are maintained and procedures for purging and destroying records on a regular cycle.

Reg 101

New registrars will find guidance on this and many other areas at the Registrar 101 workshop.  This two-day seminar is designed specifically to introduce new professionals to all the ins and outs of the office of the registrar, including:

  • the role of the registrar,
  • compliance and legislation (including a detailed look at FERPA), and
  • a review of specific duties typically associated with a registrar’s office.

The breadth of responsibilities assigned to the office can be overwhelming so it’s good to know that there is someplace you can turn for guidance and answers to your most pressing issues.

The next available workshop is scheduled July 8-9 in conjunction with the AACRAO Technology & Transfer Conference in New Orleans.  Register now.