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What is PDF-to-Data, and Why Is It an Admissions Process Game Changer?

by NSC Blog | Jul 24, 2023 | Transcript & Data Exchange Services, Transcript Ordering

Transcripts are the cornerstone of the admissions process. Whether a learner is applying to an undergraduate or graduate institution, as a new student, or as a transfer student, the application can’t be evaluated without a transcript.

The most common format for sending transcripts is portable document format, or PDF. PDFs look like printed documents but can be viewed and transmitted electronically. The problem is, PDFs are not optimized to make importing the transcript’s information into a college’s system easy. As a result, most colleges and universities employ staff members – sometimes 10 or more full-time staff – to manually enter data from thousands of PDF transcripts into the college’s information system.

Some schools use optical character recognition technology to try to convert PDF transcripts, but this technology is decades old and is not highly accurate. As a result, admissions staff still need to review and correct transcript data. It’s a highly inefficient and error-prone system that causes delays in evaluating students’ applications.

PDF-to-Data solves this problem.

How Does PDF-to-Data Work?

PDF-to-Data converts PDF transcripts from a sending school to machine-readable formats that are recommended by the Postsecondary Education Standards Council (PESC), TS 130 (EDI), or PESC XML.

PDF-to-Data seamlessly delivers PESC XML or TS130 EDI standard data files to an institution’s Clearinghouse account within minutes after the Clearinghouse receives a PDF transcript. The patented parsing engine models each sender’s transcript template and converts them while maintaining all critical relationships between data points in the output. The resulting transcript data files can be uploaded directly to existing CRM or student information systems without manual intervention, thereby reducing potential errors and freeing up staff members for other priorities.

The solution also provides the original PDF version, giving schools both human-readable and machine-readable formats. The colleges can then import the transcript data into their systems with just a few clicks, saving significant time and streamlining the admissions process overall.

The Clearinghouse’s partner, AstrumU, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create templates of each sending school’s transcript format by leveraging historical transcripts. The AI engine uses the templates to “read” the PDF transcript and automatically convert it into PESC-standardized machine-readable format. Because PDF-to-Data uses a SaaS model, there is no software for schools to install or maintain. Schools simply receive the transcripts from the Clearinghouse after they’ve been translated into the school’s desired machine-readable format.

Learn more about PDF-to-Data.

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