Families want to feel confident that they are making the right choice during the application season.
Families expect a personal experience from schools, and many expect the admissions process to be online already.
These days, paper-based admissions are not the accessible, user-friendly portal that parents and students are looking for. There is a solution, however – upgrading to a secure and easy-to-use online admissions system.
Frankly, moving any school’s admissions online is a great idea. You’ll eliminate hours of paperwork, keep parents and students informed during the admissions process, boost enrollment, ensure secure receipt of all submittals, and make it easier to review and process applications.
1) Save processing time
Before school applications went online, the admissions process could be a paperwork nightmare for staff. Application forms, financial aid, personal statements and payments came in by the truckload, and each form had to be manually entered and reviewed. In contrast, online admissions uniformly organize and format all of that information for streamlined processing and review.
Letting go of paper by moving to an online system reduces your printing budget for admissions forms. Also, online admissions are easily customizable, eliminating the need for costly reprints.
Your enrollment process can become an integral component of your larger student information management with the right system.
Gradelink’s EnrollMe service, for example, turns any paper-based enrollment process into a streamlined parent portal on your school's website, which can boost enrollment and cut down on time-consuming data entry. Applying families can make payments as part of the online registration process, which transitions seamlessly into tuition payments throughout the year.
Finally, administrators can digitally tag applications for further action, and to ensure that applicants are only considered if they have completed their forms properly.
2) Parents and students can track progress
Moving admissions online not only streamlines admissions for administrators – it’s better for parents and students as well.
Online admissions can pre-populate data fields with applicant data that has already been collected, which means that parents aren’t entering the same information over and over. Making your admissions responsive and easier to use will remove a “pain point” in the process that can also improve your school’s reputation through word of mouth.
When online admissions are managed through a student information system, interested families can fill out a form that monitors and manages their leads, allowing them to track the application process. This system also provides user information to administrators, so they can offer parents more responsive and informed customer service.
3) Boost Enrollment
Removing pain points from your admissions process not only improves the experience for families, it can boost enrollment for your school.
According to the Education Advisory Board, reducing the effort to enroll is one of the quickest ways to create an uptick in enrollment. Fewer barriers to the application process makes parents more likely to apply, especially if they are considering multiple schools.
Further, the data provided by prospective students as they move through admissions can empower your school's enrollment strategy. David Worley, director of student services at Iliff School of Theology, found that using student information to drive enrollment led to significant gains in inquiries, applications, and campus visits.
While tracking admissions data, Worley and his team also found that the percentage of individuals moving from the initial inquiry to actually submitting an application had fallen by 10-12% per year for the past five years. The staff was able to improve retention within the admissions process, eventually stopping the decline and actually improving their conversion rate by 27% over the prior year.
4) Secure application receipt
Online admissions adds transparency through lead management and tracking data, but arguably the most important added benefit is increased security.
Security, in this case, comes in two forms. The first is physical security – the confidential data collected by your online admissions form will be protected by your student information system, keeping both your school and your prospective families safe.
The second form of security is an emotional one. With online admissions, families don’t have to worry about applications disappearing or missing deadlines because of unfortunate circumstances.
Michelle Green, college admissions consultant at UniGO, experienced such a calamity personally – her own college application was lost in transit and had to be re-submitted, delaying both her acceptance and her financial aid.
As a basic service, your student information system should include status indicators for admission and acceptance levels, so that families know that their information has been received. Moving your admissions online means you’ll never be the school that loses applications in the mail.
5) Review applications from anywhere
Moving admissions online gives your team the flexibility to review and process applications at school, home, Starbucks, or anywhere else with a Wi-Fi connection. You don’t need any special hardware or software, just a computer or mobile device that can access the internet.
Also, in a cloud-based system, notes and updates to online admissions forms are stored and made available for colleagues in real time. Administrators, teachers, and parents can connect in a seamless, real-time environment that empowers your school.