Obie goes to college: Making your admissions processing more efficient
Welcome to part 1 of the Obie College Story. We’re going to track our fictional friend Obie during his journey from applying to college all the way through graduation. Join us as we learn how higher education institutions can use technology to make their student’s lives easier.
As you might guess, Obie, being a first-semester high school senior, is busy filling out college applications and keeping his grades up. He’s targeting five to eight institutions as the websites he is consulting have recommended.
And he has tons of questions:
- Are these the right schools?
- Will I be accepted?
- How are my family and I going to pay for this?
- What major should I declare?
- Should I take a gap year like Malia Obama?
It’s a lot to consider. He has literally bags and bags of marketing material, t-shirts, pennants and dreams about what college will be like. Now he has to get accepted.
So he waits.
Statistically speaking, “For 10 of the past 15 years, more than 70 percent of colleges reported year-to-year application increases. In the midst of this application growth, colleges have increased outreach to transfer and international students, as student pathways to and through higher education have changed,” according to the NACAC State of College Admissions 2014 Report.
That means every institution is evaluating a higher quantity and complexity of applications than ever before. But I doubt many admission offices are getting the OK to add staffing to process this uptick.
So how do admission offices handle more applicants with the same staffing and still work to select the right students?
The institutional perspective
It turns out that many websites your applicants are looking at tell them how your admissions office works. They tell prospective students you store the applications in an electronic file, standardize their grades and quickly weed out those who don’t meet the minimum requirements.
I’m curious, do you do that? In my experience, we higher education institutions aren’t all quite there yet and have vastly different approaches. But what we have in common is that we must be efficient.
As a two-year school, I need the quickest way to assess student readiness for Community College. As a four-year school, I need to select those who will be most successful. We need to choose each other carefully because our mutual success, student and institution, are depending on it.
I recently read a great article that mentioned “out of the box” ideas on how colleges and universities can improve the admissions process. But institutions, steeped in tradition, likely won’t make those radical changes.
Instead, we’ll do more with less. We’ll read more application portfolios with less staff. We’ll experiment with test-blind admissions so we don’t penalize students who don’t test well in a half-day environment. We’ll accelerate our admissions review process.
By leveraging the technology platforms you already have. Your CRM and your SIS likely know the checklist of items you want to receive from every applicant; by connecting these systems, you can shift to a 100 percent paperless admissions process that’s faster and more accurate, so Obie can find out if he’s accepted, relax and enjoy his summer.
That’s what Nazareth College did.
Using ECM to connect systems and share information
With enterprise content management (ECM), you simply scan and index every document you receive and automatically update the CRM/SIS checklist that the documents are available. Use your current technology stack to display those checklists to your student portal, so applicants can check to see the documents are there.
Then, sit back and let your ECM system watch for when that checklist is complete and automatically route completed applications for review to your committee.
This means you can be the first to send a decision letter to Obie, informing him that he is accepted. That will increase the chances that you are the school he selects in these challenging times when there are more spots for students than there are traditional students to fill them.
Let’s improve this admissions process together.
After all, Obie has to know as soon as possible where he is going to school so his mom can plan his graduation party with your school colors and mascot in mind.