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International Admissions in the Digital Age: Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask

By: PowerSchool Team | | No Comments |

International Admissions in the Digital Age: Questions You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask
What is an online application?

An online application is a school’s entire application packet transformed into an online format with features that enable the full completion of the application, such as uploading photos or submitting copies of birth certificates. It is not making a form available in PDF format for submission by email. An online application generally has a family portal that allows families to save, submit, and manage multiple applications for their family while school administrators manage incoming applications, track application progress, review and admit applicants, and communicate with applicant families. None of this can be achieved with a downloadable PDF.

What is the difference between an online application and an online inquiry/enquiry?

An online application is a formal application for admission to a school. An online inquiry/enquiry is an expression of interest for more information and opportunities to build a relationship with the school. Online applications for international schools are commonly much longer than inquiry forms. Inquiry forms tend to collect data on student interests, how they found out about the school, and basic student information. Applications collect more extensive information including demographic information, emergency contact information, health and medical information, academic history, and additional documentation such as recommendations, passport copies, photos, and more.

What is the best way to collect certain information from different groups of students, such as applicants for elementary school versus applicants for secondary school?

The great thing about online forms is that they can be coded to adjust to collect the information a school desires to collect based on certain data. For example, a school can collect a parent questionnaire from applicants in elementary school, a simple questionnaire from early secondary school applicants, and a more complex questionnaire from older applicants. Using conditional logic, forms will adjust to display the correct set of questions or fields, meaning that elementary applicants never see questions that only pertain to secondary school applicants. The beauties of conditional logic are that a school only needs one online application and the school can be confident that all submitted applications are complete with all appropriate and required fields completed – i.e. no more chasing down missing information.

How does information collected on online forms make it to a school’s SIS/MIS?

Data collected is essentially “delivered” from the software that provides the online application or online inquiry/enquiry forms to a school’s SIS/MIS. Data is packaged up, encrypted for security, and delivered to the SIS/MIS in one of a variety of methods. One method is by connecting to the SIS/MIS by its API (Application Program Interface), a connection that needs to be securely built by software programmers of the online application provider. Another method is by providing the school with a customized .csv or text files that the school then imports into their SIS/MIS. This approach requires specific knowledge of how to design an online form in such a way that the file it produces with all collected data is formatted in such a way that the SIS/MIS receives the data in a manner it can read – if it cannot read the formatting, then all sorts of problems can occur: improper updates, duplicate record creation, updates to the wrong student record, etc. Professional software providers know how to avoid these problems.

What is “admissions management?”

Admissions management is the strategic oversight of the entire admissions process both internally at a school and externally. The admissions process generally begins at the point an applicant family discovers your school and continues to the applicant’s enrollment at the school or the denial of admission of the applicant. Oversight of the admissions process involves the management of all touchpoints and communications with potential applicants and applicant families, tracking the applicant lifecycle, defining workflows in a manner appropriate for your school, optimizing recruitment efforts, measuring lead generation and pipeline movement, and managing the internal progress of an applicant. Internal application progression often includes verification of documents, interviews, testing, school tours, verification of application fee payment, and final admissions decision. Admissions management looks at efficiency, communication, brand positioning and school reputation, relationship building, internal collaboration, compliance, and admissions data reports and analytics.

What is the difference between my SIS/MIS and an online admissions management system?

A student information system or management information system is a database that holds information and data about students. Common examples for international schools include PowerSchool, Capita SIMS, SERCO, Blackbaud, Veracross, Engage, Rediker, Skyward, STI iNow, and iSAMS. An online admissions management system is software that is designed to collect student data so that it can be delivered to the SIS/MIS database where it is stored. An admissions system helps to eliminate manual data entry, increase the accuracy of student data, standardize data in the SIS/MIS, and streamline the entire process for families and administrators. Some SIS/MIS providers offer an admissions section to their database, but this does not necessarily mean that they can provide sophisticated online forms and portals for families and administrators to manage applications.