Saturday, September 29, 2018

Kent State Grad Admissions System Improves Communication and Efficiency

Kent State had been using an email-based admissions system that was wasteful and inefficient. The process was confusing and frustrating for applicants (who had to wait weeks after each document submission to see updates to their applications) as well as faculty (who couldn’t access information about in-progress applications or help applicants along the way). Many students who found the application process confusing, too slow, or too difficult to navigate simply abandoned their applications. 

According to Ms. Whitehead, “the old admissions process consumed hundreds of hours of administrative time, in addition to reams and reams of paper. Our applicants would email all their documents, which we would then print out, write on, scan, and then move into each student’s electronic file.” After that process, faculty were notified via email that a completed file was ready for review. The vast majority of programs would then print all the documents all over again in order to make their decisions. The process typically took several weeks and sometimes months. The administration wanted to find a suite of admissions products that would provide more tools and flexibility to help manage all of Kent State’s graduate programs, improve communication with applicants, and provide a better overall experience for applicants, faculty reviewers, and administrators.

The ApplyWeb integrated system immediately streamlined Kent State’s entire admissions process, eliminating printing, scanning and filing, while adding all the customizing features the school needed to manage their complex graduate curriculum. According to Whitehead, moving to an all-in-one application processing and CRM system was a big improvement. “Because we have all the pieces of the system, when we’re adding a new program into the application, it’s easy to add it into Admin and ensure the right application requirements are associated with the program. We can do the whole thing in five minutes.” And administrators can track applicants’ progress and have direct, immediate communication with them. Now, the Admissions office can generate detailed reports in minutes. Faculty can view in-progress applications and reach out to promising students to encourage completion. And applicants can see their real-time status anytime they want, instead of waiting weeks for an email update that may already be outdated. The improved application experience was immediately obvious: Kent State Admissions saw a 14 percent reduction in incomplete applications within the first full semester of adopting the ApplyWeb system, and a 21 percent reduction by the following term. 

“Another huge benefit to our new system is improved usability and convenience for our faculty,” says Whitehead. All faculty review committee members now have access to a single, scrollable PDF of applicant documents wherever and whenever they want. Although, the best part is that we’ve been able to empower our faculty, giving them ways to identify and reach out to promising applicants. We can also remind faculty and deans when they have applications waiting for review. This helps move decisions along and gets offers out more quickly, so we can truly impact enrollment.”