Universities should leverage information to recruit the most qualified students

The ability to gather information and evaluate a potential student in a timely manner is critical for a university to effectively recruit and enroll the most qualified students. When a high school or transfer student identifies a list of universities and colleges they may be interested in attending, so begins the accumulation of information about the student; their identity, academic record and preferences.

This information is coveted and schools that can quickly identify it and use it have a considerable advantage in recruiting.

The problem is most universities begin collecting information, but cannot organize it, share it and extract value from it in time to be useful in attracting prospective students during the application phase. Once an application is submitted, the amount of supporting documentation that arrives during a short period of time is staggering. The student evaluation and selection process is labor intensive and seasonal staff is normally required to manage the influx of paper. And still the evaluation process is challenged.

Student lifecycle phases

Student life cycle phases

Once enrolled, a student will touch many departments at one time or another during their college years. Information continues to accumulate as the student applies, enrolls, selects courses and programs, graduates and eventually becomes employed.

The majority of university departments and programs would benefit from having access to student information at one point or another during the life cycle of the student. A review of departmental processes across campuses indicates student information is needed in order for faculty and staff to effectively do their jobs.

So why do universities keep multiple versions of the same information in departmental files all over campus? The answer is simple, their current systems do not allow sharing of information across departments.

Information is submitted in the form of electronic documents or paper and many schools use document imaging systems for storage and later retrieval. These systems usually reside within and serve a single department, making information contained in them unavailable to the rest of the campus. This prevents collaboration and process automation, and is the underlying culprit responsible for the majority of hidden costs associated with managing information.

So what strategy should a university consider to leverage all the benefits of the information they are collecting? Universities using best practices have implemented a single content management infrastructure with a unified repository that supports the entire campus. Information is collected once and made available to anyone via role-based permissions, completely eliminating the expensive cycle of copying, and routing via mail, fax and email.

Centralized content storage and integration with business applications enable collaboration and workflow automation across departments. Content from the library can be published to websites or portals via web content delivery services.

During a time when capital expenses and budgets are a real concern, universities should eliminate redundant systems and reap the significant benefits of reducing administrative costs across every department by 30 – 35%.

More than cost savings and minimizing risk, it’s about gaining the ability to reach the right students for your university.