What to Look for When Evaluating Admission Software Features

September 4, 2019 Daren Worcester

There’s a lot to consider when selecting a new enrollment management system for your school: How will it impact your current application process? Will it create the desired efficiencies for admission officers? Is it user-friendly for prospective families? Does it address the challenges you’re trying to solve? The pressure to make the “right” choice can seem daunting, but you can simplify the process by focusing on how these key features work: 

1. Application Form 

While it’s easy to gloss-over the application form, you don’t want any surprises later. “Customizable” forms are great but make sure the necessary options for your school’s criteria are available. Also, review the form from the parent perspective—is it easy to use on mobile devices, are you able to provide clear instructions, and how do the notifications work? It’s hard to predict how your school’s admission process will change in the future, so the more flexibility, the better.  

2. Student Application Online (SAO) Integration

Making the application process as simple as possible is one of the best ways to impress prospective parents. The universal SAO is a parent-pleaser because it saves them from completing multiple application forms. However, you don’t want the SAO to create extra work for admission officers. Blackbaud Enrollment Management SystemTM integrates with the SAO so that these applications display alongside those native to the system—no pain, plenty of gains!  

3. Online Checklist 

Not all admission checklists are created equal. The best online checklists are customizable to your school's application process, are easy for candidate parents and admission officers to check an application's status, and provide real-time reporting for school leadership. In addition to reviewing how the checklist matches your school’s current application process, consider the ways it could improve admissions practices.  

4. Appointment Scheduling 

The new admissions software should deliver efficiencies. Enabling parents to self-schedule visits and tours saves everyone from the time-consuming back-and-forth emails and phone calls. This feature is worth celebrating, but also look at how the time slots are set up. Blackbaud’s enrollment system connects the school and admission calendars, so it’s easy to plan around—or plan for—school events.   

5. Candidate Review 

The goal is to create a paperless admissions process. Doing so takes a robust online committee review hub where admission officers can access candidate documentation, review notes from colleagues, and add their feedback. In addition to the collaboration features, look at how the application data is managed. Are permissions in place to control whether admission officers see sensitive information such as financial aid? And how does reporting streamline the decision-making process for admissions leadership? 

6. Enrollment Contracts 

Selecting a new admission system should also mean a big step forward in handling enrollment contracts. In addition to the standard features, look for a system that provides individualized enrollment contracts for financial aid, as well as real-time seat availability reporting. Given how vital it is for the enrollment process to go smoothly, don’t overlook the vendor’s up-time performance and support response rate during this critical period. 

7. Reporting 

Real-time reporting on the admission funnel is crucial but also review whether the reporting package as a whole will influence decision-making. For example, tracking event attendees who applied and enrolled lets you know whether to continue holding the event. Reviewing legacy conversions gives insight into the overall level of family satisfaction.  

8. Data Integration 

Admission software is the primary source of data for new families—how is this information going to get into the school’s other systems? Imports and exports may sound good in a sales pitch, but they often result in significant data cleanup.  
Blackbaud Enrollment Management System runs off the same database as our LMS and SIS solutions, so the data is all in one place. What's more, enrollment contracts sync with our tuition management solution, and constituent record data can flow into our fundraising and fund accounting solutions. 

Discover the Blackbaud K–12 difference. 

See for yourself how Blackbaud Enrollment Management System rolls out the red carpet for candidate families while creating time-saving efficiencies for admission officers.

About the Author

Daren Worcester

Daren Worcester has been a member of the Blackbaud K-12 team for 17 years, assisting hundreds of independent schools through a variety of website development roles. A former copywriter and a published author with an appetite for SEO, Daren currently serves as the senior content marketing manager for K-12.

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