Qualifying Applicants: How the Technology You're Using Can Box You In

In our first article in this series, we described how central the qualification process is to an institutions’ ability to meet enrollment, productivity, and responsiveness goals.  We then provided an overview the general process and approaches.  In this article, we will discuss the systems involved in this process and how they may be limiting an institution’s success in this area.

Technology Implications

As mentioned in our last blog article, an institution has a number of different ways that it needs to treat different types of students.  As such, assessing the qualifications and knowing whether to trust the information provided is key to the integrity of many follow-on processes.  This includes assessing the following:

  • Does the candidate meet the requirements for the education offering in which he/she is applying?
  • Is the candidate legally allowed to attend courses?
  • Are there any safety risks related to having this student come on campus?
  • How should the candidate be treated from a financial perspective?

Because these processes involve gathering data from candidates, getting supporting information from them, assessing and/or evaluating them, and tracking / protecting PII, there are a number of systems involved in handling each area.  This falls in the following general areas:

  • Technology used for the application for admissions
  • Technology used for assessing / evaluating applicants
  • Technology used for communicating with applicants
  • Technology used for storing, managing, and routing documents

Application for Admissions Technology

The application for admissions is where your candidates first provide information to you about themselves.  As such, it provides an opportunity to gather as much information as possible needed in the qualification process.  Gathering that information at this step will improve accuracy, reduce processing effort, and improve responsiveness.  However, unless the qualification rules can be evaluated as part of the application for admissions and the applicant experience can be responsive to those needs; it may be either impossible or cumbersome to handle it in this area.

The technology commonly used in this area is as follows:

  • A common application managed by an external organization. Due to configuration limitations for these solutions, much of the qualification determination and document gathering cannot be done as part of that solution and must be deferred to a follow-on step in the admissions process (such as a checklist item).
  • An application for admissions that is part of a CRM and/or assessment solution. Due to configuration limitations for these solutions, much of the qualification determination and document gathering cannot be done as part of that solution and must be deferred to a follow-on step in the admissions process (such as a checklist item).
  • A bespoke developed application for admissions. These solutions give institutions a high degree of control over how information is gathered and processed in the admissions process.  However, in practice, few institutions have the resources to develop and support the qualification rules in the application for admissions.
  • A configurable, candidate optimized application for admissions. This solution is built specifically to optimize the inbound engagement experience, with functionality to tailor behavior to each population of students.  This type of solution provides institutions the level of control and configurability to capture the appropriate data, evaluate the rules, and capture the supporting documents for all types of qualifications.  This is the type of solution that Mutara provides.


Technology for Assessing and Evaluating Applicants + Technology used for managing communications

In the higher ed space, these technologies can also be considered CRMs, as much of the assessing process requires managing status and communications with applicants in more selective admissions areas.  Solutions in this space often have their own limited applications for admissions technology and also allow external application feeds to provide applicant data (for example, feeding applications from the CommonApp into Slate).

This technology can also be used to request additional information and supporting documents from applicants after the initial application for admissions is submitted.  Quite often this where much of the staff-directed qualification activity is performed when those technologies are in use.

Technology used for storing, managing, and routing documents

Document management systems are utilized at institutions to ensure that supporting documentation can be reviewed, securely stored, and used for auditing purposes.  In addition to managing documents directly submitted by the applicant, they are also used for transcripts and letters for recommendation directly submitted by others.  These products have OCR features, the ability to tag documents, and workflow to allow staff to review and accept those documents. 

Automated solutions should integrate seamlessly with document management systems to identify, tag, and route documents provided the applicant in a manner where staff merely needs to review the document for accuracy (such as fraud).  These solutions can also be used in both staff and student directed scenarios to capture and store documents.  However, because the assessment of the qualification isn’t automated; there will be more effort required by the person processing the documents from within the document management workflow.

Next Article:  Residency Use Case

We will bring this together by going into the specifics of a common use case:  in-state residency.

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