On a typical Monday, I leave my apartment at 8 a.m. and don’t return until about midnight. During that time, I go to class, I work as a barista, I work in the newsroom, I sometimes eat and I try to do homework. 

My visual transcript remains blank through all of this. 

The purpose of the visual transcript is to capture and validate student’s co-curricular experience. The visual transcript landing page boasts that “as students engage in experiential opportunities on and off campus, information about those experiences are collected for the student and verified by university faculty and staff.” 

This model works for students who log their activities through the university, or participate in University-sanctioned service, research and travel. 

This model doesn’t work for students who work off campus, for students who haven’t logged the thousands of hours spent in campus clubs, or for students who can’t afford to study abroad through one of Elon’s programs. 

The visual transcript is supposed to help students and their future employers to appraise the ‘whole student,’ but many Elon experiences can’t be quantified by a pie chart on a sheet of paper.

You can’t visualize the sense of camaraderie and accomplishment during late nights in the newsroom. I joined the staff of The Pendulum as a freshman trying to fill my time before I transferred schools. In that newsroom, though, I found a sense of purpose, belonging and community that I never expected. I’ve spent countless hours dedicating time and energy to student media — and none of that is on my visual transcript.

You can’t visualize the lasting connections made in the community surrounding Elon. When I’m not in the newsroom, I’m at my little coffee shop in downtown Burlington. After some 900 hours spent pouring lattes and straining cold brew, I’ve gotten to know so many souls who call Burlington home. Hours spent conversing about our dreams and passions over a hot cup of coffee don’t show up on my visual transcript.

You can’t visualize the memories made during road trips that kids take over the weekend. My friends and I have spent a stupid amount of time driving around the East Coast to go to concerts and adventure as much as possible. I don’t have the money to spend my winter term somewhere exciting, but last January my friends and I drove to a new city each weekend for a concert. I didn’t do an Elon study abroad program, though, so that portion of my transcript remains blank, too.

I was disheartened by looking at my visual transcript. It made me feel as if I haven’t done enough during my time at Elon. I realize now, though, that visual transcripts could never tell a complete story, and can only provide the smallest insight into my time at Elon. Experiences that grow you as a person are valuable regardless of whether or not they can be quantified.