A well-managed admissions team is essential to a school’s growth and success, but many schools still rely on a manual admissions process or use outdated software that creates extra work and leads to costly errors.
And with admissions departments facing a staffing crisis, your small-but-mighty admissions team simply doesn’t have the time and resources to follow up with prospects, track and manage applications, and keep all the trains running. As a result, you could be missing out on prospects and revenue.
For small and medium-sized schools, admissions is a key revenue source and having a well-trained, fully supported admissions team is essential to growing enrollment. Modernizing the admissions process can help reduce errors from manual work, increase departmental collaboration and improve cooperation between the school and applicants. This allows your lean team to stay organized and improve productivity and efficiency.
Sounds like a path to success, right? In this post, we’ll cover:
The Biggest Hurdles Admissions Teams Face
A major obstacle to successfully moving prospects through admissions is having the resources to execute on an effective admissions process. Admissions teams tend to be small crews, and they need support and resources to follow up with potential students, monitor and process applications, and maintain current and accurate information on every prospect. At a time when there is a shortage of qualified workers at colleges, universities, career and trade schools, it would be wise to rethink your admissions software and processes. While schools are having difficulty recruiting and retaining talented staff, supporting your current admissions team with creative and efficient processes can give your school a competitive edge.
Today, many higher-ed professionals want to work remotely or on a hybrid schedule, but with legacy software that can be difficult. A cloud-based student information system centralizes admissions data and can be accessed from anywhere. This way, schools can provide staff with more flexibility without compromising access to data and file sharing.
For many smaller schools, the admissions process is largely a manual. Teams are cutting and pasting information from databases into templates, individually writing and sending emails, searching for documents and saving to multiple drives. While the work may seem mindless or harmless, this manual approach comes with significant risks:
Delayed Follow Up – Failure to quickly follow up with a prospect is inevitable without real-time notifications, leading to missed revenue opportunities. Students are applying to multiple institutions, so teams have to be quick to pounce on new leads.
Time Lost From Disorganization – Looking for information, notes and data drains time that could be dedicated to targeting and following up on high-value prospects. If details on prospects aren’t recorded properly or even lost, that interested student could fall through the cracks.
Failure to Meet Your Goals – Prospective students are a hot commodity. If your team is not engaging in clear and consistent communication, then you won’t meet your enrollment goals and your school’s budget will suffer.
10 Attributes to Look for in Integrated Admissions Software
As more schools look to upgrade from legacy, onsite technology systems to integrated, cloud-based student information systems, it is important to make admissions software a top priority.
Admissions is the nerve center for any school, so you want to make sure your student information system lets the admissions team follow a prospect throughout the entire admissions cycle. Here’s are 10 components to look for:
- A Centralized Hub: There’s a lot of documentation involved in the application process, so everything needs to be stored in one location to maintain a Single Source of Truth for admissions teams and applicants alike. This means no more searching multiple databases or spreadsheets for the right information.
- An Easy User Experience: Prospects and admissions teams need a system that’s easy to use. Applicants need the ability to pause the process and restart applications, and your team can easily keep track of how many applications are ongoing and completed, and follow up when necessary.
- Built-In CRM and Communications Platform: A robust student information system contains a CRM to track applicants and any communications between them and your school. This should be regularly updated and monitored to ensure follow-up communication with prospects is quick.
- Real-Time Notifications: It’s easy for prospective students to get distracted and end up with incomplete applications. That slows down your school’s admissions process and could keep a student from joining your program. To help students stay on track, the system can be configured with email, text and push notifications to remind students to submit forms, upload documents or check their email.
- Data Protection: Applications and financial aid forms contain a lot of personal information, so it’s important to be able to restrict access to sensitive personal data from within your team and outside your organization.
- Project Management Capabilities: An integrated system lets your school build customized workflows for project routing, review and approval. With an easy-to-use interface, staffers from admissions, as well as other key departments, can manage the system with minimal training.
- Financial Aid Integration: The vast majority of students need financial aid, which means your school needs to collect documentation, send out notifications, and submit reports to the government and students. An integrated student information system is capable of accurately coordinating these critical functions as a part of the overall admissions process.
- Collect Fees and Deposits: After an application is submitted, you might need to collect an application fee or a tuition deposit once they’ve been accepted. Students should be able to easily make payments directly in your integrated system.
- Seamless Hand Off: Once a student is admitted, your enrollment, registrar and financial aid teams will need access to the information supplied by the admissions team to help students select classes, process housing, and finalize and receive financial aid. All of that information is easily accessible in an integrated student information system since there’s no transfer of data between systems it reduces the likelihood of errors.
- Duplicate Management: There will always be interested students who submit multiple inquiries or someone who starts and then abandons an application and then starts a new one. To cut down on duplicate inquiries, you want a system that is able to recognize the same student by matching on key fields like email, social security number, address or phone number and merge these applications together.
How Integrated Admissions Software Benefits Career and Trade Schools
Unlike nonprofit universities and colleges, which have a set calendar for the admissions cycle, career and trade schools accept students year-round and have multiple program start dates. That means admissions is a more continuous – and complicated – process of data entry, tracking and management.
Career and trade school admissions officers need a better way to manage student data. Instead of manually updating prospect and student information, here are two strong arguments for a student information system with an admissions module.
1. Fast-Track Government Reporting Requirements
The federal government requires many schools to submit regular reports on their student body, including the race, gender and ethnicity of the students, as well as attendance and graduation rates. For schools that participate in Title IV federal student financial aid, there are additional reporting requirements. Since much of this information pertains to admissions and enrollment, it helps if your student information system can generate the right reports.
By upgrading your admissions process with a cloud-based student information system, trade and career schools can save time and improve their recruiting and application process. School officials can track prospective students, monitor follow-ups and application status, and keep admissions running smoothly.
Campus Cafe, for instance, includes a library of pre-built reports for admissions and enrollment data. This helps your school organize and sort data, and then build the right reports in less time.
2. Help Your Admissions Team Be More Proactive
Can a student information system really improve your admissions process? The answer is yes. From large nonprofit universities to specialized trade schools, the key to continued growth is attracting new students, and your school is only as successful as the students that you attract.
But your small team needs help to boost admissions. They’re used to working with a lean operation, but you don’t want them to burn out and leave. When they can easily access and share information, it saves valuable time and resources. And when your admissions team saves time, they can enroll more students, which creates a return on investment that pays for itself.
In short, a modern, easy-to-use student information system with an integrated admissions module can save valuable time and resources so your team can work smarter, faster, and help build a robust student body and successful institution.