According to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the role of a college admissions counselor is, “to serve students as they make choices about pursuing post-secondary education.” Whether it be reviewing applications, scheduling campus visits, or simply handling any questions or concerns a prospective student might have about the university, college admissions counselors are responsible for a great deal of tasks and often need to complete them in a short window of time.
However, with the right tools, the admissions process can become much easier for counselors to manage. Using some of the emerging technologies available today can not only help simplify workflows, but also prove to be an effective tool for recruiting. In fact, the NACAC’s most recent Admission Trends Survey revealed technology-driven recruitment technologies, like email, website, social media, and text messaging, have been some of the most valuable to today’s admissions counselors.
If you’re looking to use more tech tools on your admissions team, here are four of today’s top solutions:
Text Messaging Solutions
Though many people screen their phone calls or trash an email without even opening it, text messaging is perhaps the most impactful way to get a reader’s attention. A study conducted by Shift Communications found that 82 percent of individuals will read every text message they receive, regardless of whether it was sent by a known individual or entity. Using this direct form of communication to connect with prospective students can be a great way of putting your university front and center in their minds and encouraging them to take next steps. A solution like Signal Vine allows counselors to send a personalized message to their respective applicants. These messages can offer assistance, contain reminders, and become a helpful guide to students as they navigate the college admissions process. Rather than answering inquiries in a myriad of separate channels, a text messaging platform gives counselors a unified way to manage dialogue.
Chatbots are an up-and-coming way for organizations of all types to handle incoming questions, even when humans may not have the bandwidth to do so. They offer organizations the ability to provide almost instantaneous responses, which is why institutions like The University of Adelaide have begun to use them for the admissions process. During the admissions season, many students contact the university regarding their standardized test scores and getting adjustments to their scores to improve their chances for admission. However, the influx of inquiries often leaves students on hold for hours. For this reason, the university implemented chatbots to automatically calculate these adjusted scores and deliver them to the students instantly through Facebook Messenger. Using chatbot tools can significantly reduce incoming calls requesting standardized tasks and allow counselors to focus on other tasks requiring their expertise.
Digital Campus Tours
Hosting campus visits can require a great deal of a university’s resources, and when these resources are allocated to students who aren’t sure whether or not they’d like to attend the university, it can often feel like the resources have gone to waste. Many universities have implemented virtual campus tours, which offer students the tour experience, without having to leave home. Companies like YouNow have even integrated components of virtual reality into their offerings, allowing prospective students to experience the campus as if they were walking it themselves. This technology can be immensely helpful for busy admissions teams and allows them to have visitations set aside for the students most interested in attending the university, rather than those who might just be interested in taking a quick glimpse. Additionally, virtual tours enable applicants located internationally or across the country the ability to visit a university, without having to travel.
Virtual College Lockers
Long gone are handwritten essays and recommendation letters snail-mailed to campus. The recent standard has been The Common Application, an online application the student fills out once and submits to several schools. However, for many universities, The Common Application is still an inefficient way of conducting a 360-admissions process, as it doesn’t allow the submission of admissions projects, supplementary material, or other components universities require to tailor their admissions. The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, which comprises more than 80 private and public institutions, instead offers virtual college lockers. Like Google Drive or Dropbox, this service acts as a virtual hub for students’ videos, photos, written work, and other materials that provide counselors with a more holistic view of the applicant, without requiring them to submit materials in an entirely separate process.
Technology is quickly upending the entire college admissions process and, to the benefit of today’s admissions counselors, simplifying it processes. Incorporating one (or many) of these tech tools into your admissions activities will make for a less complex and more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Marie Johnson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, UX Designer and technology writer from New York City. If she’s not writing my latest blog post in her kitchen, you’ll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.