How To Boost School Admissions Online
During recent unprecedented circumstances, it’s harder than ever to interact with prospective parents and students and encourage them to submit applications to your school. This is particularly challenging for International Schools, who are experiencing the added difficulty of marketing themselves to prospective applicants on a global level.
As schools around the world transition to digital platforms for their teaching and learning, it’s natural that this should extend to admissions processes too – and we’ve already seen a recent rise in the popularity of running online, paperless admissions in schools around the world.
Working with paper or Excel spreadsheets is hugely time-consuming. It’s harder to organise, involves more labour-intensive processes and makes it more difficult to find key information when you need it. With an online, integrated platform you can save hours each month that would otherwise have been spent inputting data, printing and scanning relevant documents, copy and pasting data across to your MIS, and looking for or replacing files; having an integrated online platform ensures time is rather spent on marketing to prospective new students and their parents.
At a time when every penny counts, schools still needing to move from a paper-based process to an online platform could also potentially save money. When the University of Cambridge started an initiative to print less, their savings on printer cartridges alone amounted to a substantial £10,000 – £12,000; so just imagine how much your school could save even by simply reducing printing. Considering the vast amount of paper involved in admissions processes, moving online would result in big savings on paper and printing costs.
At the best of times coordinating interviews, open days and marketing campaigns can be a logistical nightmare for your Administration, Marketing and Admissions Teams, relying on a great deal of collaboration and information-sharing between multiple members of staff. With schools closed and staff members dispersed and working remotely, these are even harder to organise.
However, by facilitating an online admissions process you can empower every member of staff by providing them with access to the key information they need immediately, whenever they need it and via one secure, centralised system which integrates directly with your student management system to ensure a smooth transition from enrolment to acceptance. Not only this but by hosting your admissions form for prospective parents online, you can provide a direct link in marketing campaigns and when hosting virtual open days.
By streamlining these critical aspects of the admissions process, you’re saving your staff members significant amounts of time and contributing towards an improved experience for prospective parents and students.
The new GDPR regulations introduced in the EU in May 2018 have put data protection at the forefront of the concerns of every organisation and school. Whilst working with paper may initially seem secure enough, it’s actually much harder to keep track of important and confidential documents stored on paper. Many people could access the filing cabinets in your Admissions Office, they could be broken into even if they’re locked and there’s relatively little to prevent staff members accidentally taking documents out of the office.
With the advanced security technology now available, storing these documents online enables you to set security permissions controlling who accesses what documents, as well as showing you when they were last viewed and by who. Plus, with encryptions and two-factor authentication, it’s harder than ever for people outside your school to access your confidential files.
Electronic documents are also easily backed up and stored offsite in the cloud. This means that if there’s a disaster, such as a fire or flood, they can quickly be recovered for you. Filing and storing things on the cloud also greatly minimizes the risk of losing or misplacing a digital document, ensuring that you can always track and access significant information whenever you need it.
With their children now learning from home, as well as many having to juggle full-time jobs and grow accustomed to remote working, parents have a lot on their plates at the moment. As a result, they’ll be looking for an admissions process that’s reliable, easy and can be accessed from home when it best suits them.
By building your application process into your school’s website through a slick online enquiry form, you can ensure that parents can quickly and easily complete and submit enquiries at their own convenience and from the safety of their own homes.
You can further support this process by giving parents the following during the registration phase:
- Responsive forms – enable parents to submit applications from a desktop, tablet or mobile device.
- Payment options – offer online payment facilities to pay any relevant admissions fees directly, using various payment options.
- Upload supporting documents– allow parents to upload at registration any relevant documents to support their application.
- Multiple children – give parents the option to register more than one child in a single form.
By including all these options upfront, it will save a lot of potential back and forth between your school and prospective parents, which can be frustrating for both parties, and it also saves you from processing duplicate information.
As an additional positive, integrating your admissions process with your school’s website will ensure that this initial contact with prospective parents will continue to be fully branded, customised and recognisably from your school. This will ensure you maintain a strong brand image and integrity from the beginning of the process.
With complex paper trails and/or multiple spreadsheets it’s very hard to monitor the progress of each application and clearly see whether you have all the information needed for it to move forwards. By collating this data digitally, you can produce intuitive and flexible dashboards to help you clearly determine which applications sit at which stage, and what’s needed for each one moving forwards.
Not only does it reduce paper use, but you’ll also be able to track and monitor all communications sent surrounding each application, so you know exactly who you’ve spoken to and when. This will help you keep on top of the progress of each application and ensure that you have all the key information you need at any one time.
As all this information is readily available and collected online, you can then manage and review all your admissions data in real-time. This will enable you to then break this down into detailed reports which you can share with your Senior Leadership Team, helping you to assess conversion rates, monitor applicant progress and view a breakdown of all applications.
With this extensive range of positives, most notably the ease of access to digital environments with a remote workforce, it’s easy to see why so many schools are moving their admissions process online. If you’d like to find out more about an admissions platform which fully integrates with your school’s management information system, please get in touch and ask about our powerful School Admissions Software.