February 12, 2008 - At first glance they appear to be stories of improvement, of fierce competition and drive, of the electronic age of admissions. Then as you begin to peel off the skin, you realize that these are in fact stories of missed opportunities, wasted resources and an industry that desperately needs to evolve in a hurry. The stories I refer to here are the numerous articles that have been written over the last few weeks and years in fact, detailing college admissions offices being flooded with applications. From the University of Texas that enrolls nearly 40,000 undergraduates each year to Rhode Island College which just surpassed the 2,000 application mark, colleges throughout the country are seeing an increase in the number of applications that come across their desk. An increase in applications, transcripts and letters of recommendation- bottom line: an increase in workload and an increase in paper.
With the increase in applications, admissions and enrollment teams are being stretched beyond their limit as students are applying to more schools, sending more transcripts, generating larger piles of paper than ever before. The impact this is having on institutional inefficiency and the environment are mind boggling to say the least. Although small steps have been made with the online application, hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper are wasted in the form of transcripts and letters of recommendation. As Susan Peterson points out in the Daily Texan online (UT Admissions Office Sorts Final Applications, 2/1/08), the University of Texas “processes about 24,000 pieces of mail every admissions season”. That is just one school during one admissions cycle!
Can you imagine if these admissions folks were receiving transcripts sent in directly to their SIS system from the high school SIS system? Can you imagine if so much time and energy was not wasted relying on a paper-based system and more time was devoted to matching students with the right college – a college that they will succeed at?
From data re-entry, to security, to cost and environmental issues, the higher education industry needs to fast track this problem. Data security and privacy issues abound; the photo of folders stacked up with sensitive student information inside on top of an unsecured desk says it all.
Check out this article from the Providence Business News