How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students
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    6 benefits of an online admissions and enrollment system

    Find out how switching from a manual to an online admissions and enrollment system can benefit your institution, from efficiency savings to enhanced security
    Last updated:
    July 4, 2023

    While paper based or PDF admissions and enrollment processes worked in the past, they are no longer able to meet the needs of students or university staff in today’s digital-first world. If your higher education institution is among those still using offline systems, you’re probably feeling the administrative burden right now.

    The drawbacks to offline admissions and enrollment systems include:

    • Delays and mistakes – The physical handling of documents and manual data entry activities can slow down the overall admissions and enrolment process, and increase the risk of errors.
    • Higher costs – The costs associated with running a paper-based system – from printing and mailing to hiring dedicated staff – can quickly mount up.
    • Data security – Paper applications and supporting documents are vulnerable to damage, loss and unauthorized access, leading to concerns around data confidentiality and integrity.
    • Collaboration challenges – Coordination and decision-making between departments is more inefficient because without real-time updates and access to a centralised platform, it takes longer to exchange information.
    • Lack of flexibility – Paper-based systems, by their very nature, are inflexible and unable to accommodate changes and updates to application requirements.

    In order to overcome these challenges, a large percentage of higher education institutions have already transitioned to online systems or are considering doing so soon. An online admissions and enrollment portal is a digital solution designed to streamline the process of applying to and enrolling in a university or college.

    Think of it as a central hub where prospective students can access information, submit application documents, track their application status and complete their enrollment, and where admissions staff can view information and share decisions.

    Among other things, online admissions and enrollment portals can improve data security, decision-making efficiency and the overall application and enrollment experience. Let’s take a closer look at the six key benefits:

    1. Streamlining

    An online admissions and enrollment portal has the power to streamline processes and minimize paperwork. It will automate a number of otherwise manual processes for you, such as document and payment collections, and reference management.

    Importantly, you can use your online portal to create automated email workflows, which comprise a series of journey-specific email communications that share important and timely information with applicants at various points throughout the admissions process. Regular and appropriate application updates can help to reduce anxiety for applicants during the waiting period.

    An email workflow is triggered when a prospective applicant interacts with your institution, for example by requesting a prospectus. Using predefined email templates that are created in advance, these workflows will enable you to share relevant content, including – but not limited to – application confirmation, status updates, interview invitations, financial aid information or enrollment instructions.

    2. Accessibility

    An online admissions and enrollment system will provide your applicants (and staff) with 24/7 access to the portal. This level of accessibility is important for all students, including those who are scheduling their application around work or applicants who live in a different time zone to the one in which your institution operates.

    Having everything you need in one centalized hub will enable you and your team to review and evaluate applications quickly and holistically. Your admissions teams and other evaluators can access application materials including transcripts, recommendation letters, essays and videos in a few easy steps.

    3. Personalization

    Modern admissions and enrollment systems are not one-size-fits all; they can be configured to fit with your institution’s unique admissions and enrollment journey.

    You can customize application forms, automate workflows based on the applicant’s journey stage and interests (as we have already explored), and improve overall engagement levels.

    Adaptive application forms can be generated based on factors such as the individual’s program choice, background or qualifications. Providing relevant questions will help you to streamline the application process and provide a better application experience.

    You can also suggest programs to applicants based on data such as their career ambitions or academic background, thus enabling prospective students to discover routes of study they might not have otherwise considered.

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    4. Data management and analytics

    As well as efficiency and personalization, an online admissions and enrollment system can help you become more reflective, enabling you to make evidence-informed changes to your approach. All student data is stored in one, centralized place, making it much easier to manage and analyse.

    For instance, you will be able to analyze data relating to application volume and conversion rates, and identify submission patterns, including common drop-off points in the application process.

    Your portal will also be able to provide information relating to the demographics of your applicants, including geographic location, age, gender and more. This information can help you create more customized and targeted recruitment and marketing campaigns.

    You can also use your portal’s inbuilt analytics functionality to see which marketing channels and campaigns are driving the most – or least – applications.

    5. Data security

    Any online system you choose should have the necessary data security measures in place to protect applicant and student information. Access controls, data encryption, marketing and data privacy policies, and data backup protocols can all help safeguard sensitive data and ensure compliance with data protection regulations. Here are a few things to look out for:

    • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) – SSL facilitates secure communication between a web browser and the admissions portal’s server; it encrypts data, making it harder for unauthorized individuals to access.
    • Stored data encryption – Encryption methods can also be used to protect stored data, making it unreadable and unusable without the encryption key if it is accessed without authorization.
    • Two-factor authentication (2FA) – Usernames and passwords, and additional authentication methods like 2FA help to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing the admissions portal.
    • GDPR-compliance – To ensure data is handled lawfully, an admissions portal should be designed to comply with the relevant data protection regulations, such as GDPR or other national or regional laws.

    6. Cost savings

    Transitioning to an online admissions and enrollment platform can save you money as well as time, and increase your ROI. Online systems are able to scale or contract in line with any increases or contractions in applications, potentially at no additional cost.

    You will significantly reduce your costs associated with printing, photocopying and mailing, while continuing to your institution’s environmental sustainability efforts. Paper-based processes also require ample physical storage space, which can incur extra expenses. With an online portal, documents and student data are secured securely on servers on the cloud, depending on the system you choose.

    The automation of manual aspects of the admissions and enrollment process means you can reduce the manual workload of your admissions staff and delegate more strategic or value-added tasks. You could even eliminate the need to recruit additional administrative staff during busier times in the admissions cycle.

    Driving efficiency in university admissions

    Ultimately, moving to an online admissions and enrollment platform can help you to improve efficiency, save money and increase the number of high quality applications to your institution, while providing a better experience for admissions staff and prospective students alike.

    And it might not be as disruptive as you think.

    Your new platform should integrate with the online systems your institution already has in place, such as its student information system and financial systems. This will minimize user downtime and ensure that stakeholders can start benefiting from an online system immediately.

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