Why is it important to go to a real school? And what do registrars do at real universities and colleges?
For one thing, we know how to answer (and avoid) problems like this one posed by a student:
“I went to a college 20 years ago. I want to pursue further studies and I need my academic record. The college cannot locate my records and will not return my calls. What are the legal responsibilities of an institution in this regard?”
I have a very personal interest in this subject, as one of the institutions that I attended as an undergraduate student has since closed its doors. But more on that in a minute.
One of the most important services that universities and colleges provide is access to academic records for students. Students need these records to pursue jobs, careers, and further education. Anytime a school is established, one of the most basic requirements is to provide for secure and lasting records. In Canada, education falls under provincial legislation. For example Trinity Western University was established under the University Act. One of the provisions of the Act covers the security of TWU’s records. In the very unlikely situation that TWU should close its doors, the Act requires TWU to make arrangements for the permanent storage of records and methods of accessing those records.
This is one very important reason why students should be very careful to choose a reputable and top quality college or university. Small, fly-by-night schools can sound great, often by projecting a trendy and entrepreneurial image. However, if the school is unaccredited, or simply unproven (hasn’t been around very long, etc.), students take a huge risk of losing all academic records if the school closes its doors.
Real schools take the professional responsibility to protect student interests by providing for the permanent storage and retrieval of things like syllabi and transcripts, as well as proof of program completion, etc. For example, at Trinity Western University, we hold two other closed-down-institutions’ records in our archives and occasionally students contact us for their transcripts from these schools
As I said earlier, one of the schools I attended as an undergraduate shut down; however, as part of its accreditation and legislation, it has provided for the secure storage and retrieval of my student records. I know this to be true because I have had reason to request my transcripts on several occasions and I was able to get them with no trouble. If they had not been able to provide these to me, I would be in big trouble. Thankfully, this hasn’t been a problem for me.
Of course there are risks in attending any school – they can’t be avoided. There is never a guarantee that a school won’t close down; however, (and I can’t stress this enough) students need to make good choices to protect their own future interests by ensuring that the institution they enroll in is legitimate and will provide long term access to their academic records. And as Registrars, we need to take the professional responsibility to ensure that our own institutions are protecting these interests.