In my last post, The Conflicted Admissions Officer: Relationships or Statistics?, I discussed the three keys to improving admission numbers and relationships.
In this post, I’ll focus on saving time (for the admission teams).
Saving time is not the most exciting subject in the world, but it is important because if you can save time on the mechanics of admissions, it can give you the bandwidth to take your admission efforts to a new level.
3 Ways School Admission and Enrollment Software Can Save Time
We, at SchoolAdmin, did a study where we asked hundreds of admissions teams across the country, “If you had extra time, what would you do with it?” Most had a long list of things they wanted to do: focus on marketing, engage more with social media, talk more with prospects and families… and yes, some just wanted a break now and then! But the reality is that life in admissions is extremely busy and there’s not always enough time for everything.
Looking at all of the routine tasks the admissions teams did on a daily basis and figuring out how much time each task took, we learned that there are a lot of tasks that can be automated to reduce time and effort.
Here are the three main “time sucks” that technology easily solves:
1. Data entry
Across the board, the most time-consuming task is entering data, particularly from paper applications. Many schools have implemented online applications that feed directly into their admission database – it saves them time and it makes parents happy. In fact, 15% of prospective families said they would not consider a school where they had to fill out a paper application. It’s a win-win! The #1 thing that makes parents happy is the #1 thing that will save your team’s time.
2. Communication throughout the admissions process
The second most-time consuming task is around communicating with families about routine information: answering questions about the application process, trying to follow up with parents to get the application checklist complete, having five new voice mails for every one call they take. It’s a common story. To ease these calls, many schools are starting to use dynamic online application checklists. The prospects or parents can log in to the admission software portal and see what they still need to do, complete online any additional forms, schedule visits, etc. If you can give parents the information they need online, not only will you save time, but they’ll be even happier.
The third most time-consuming task is scheduling: school visits, interviews, and shadow dates, etc. Most teams we surveyed spent considerable time going back and forth over email and phone to try to find a time that works for everyone. It’s often a very frustrating process for both admissions teams and families. A newer technology we’re starting to see schools use is online admission scheduling. The school can post the times that are available on their website or in their parent portals and parents can choose from those times to sign up for a particular interview/visit time slot.
What to Do With the Extra Time
We asked teams, “How long does it take to process all the applications, to schedule all of the appointments, and to field all of the calls?” The answers were 300, 600, and 900 hours. These are times measured in months! A number of schools we talked with had eliminated all of this work, so we asked, “How do you use all of your new-found time?” We expected schools to be nervous about losing the opportunity to talk with parents, losing the opportunities for personal contact, even if it was just answering a routine question. What we found, however, was that when schools were saving time on the routine mechanical stuff, they could engage with families in a more meaningful way. They could be strategic about how they made personal connections, rather than just answering routine questions.
Now I’m sure what you want to know is, “What specifically did these schools do to improve their personal connections?” Find out how you can still improve your personal connections with communication plans and admission and enrollment management software.
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