Save Paper Nostalgia for the Campus Library

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Two EdTech Startups Digitizing Student Data for Greater Accessibility

A Data Odyssey

One advantage of working at a university is the opportunity to drum up nostalgia for old books. Perhaps you’ll remember thumbing through an ancient campus bookshelf copy of “The Odyssey.” In fact, the word “nostalgia” comes from Greek nostos meaning: “an epic hero returning home by sea.”

But if you work in enrollment or financial aid, it can often feel like you’re floating in a sea of outdated workflows. It’s no secret that campus operations have been slow to adopt digital processes. According to a recent Eduventures report, only 54% of institutions are fully electronic when reviewing admissions applications.

This is troubling, especially amidst the massive spike in application numbers, when “applications have jumped by 70% from 2004 to 2013. There’s only been a 5% increase in high school graduates:”

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Source: “Americans apply to so many schools that it’s messing up college admissions,” Quartz

Amidst this wave, enrollment and financial aid offices are often forced to settle for musty paper trails or clunky, Kraken-esque enterprise software systems. This isn’t just a problem because of outdated features: important data is being lost at sea—data that can help drive decisions across the institution. Think retention, student success, and yield.

Siren Call for More Visible Data

Last week the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a report that calls attention to the lack of data standards at many institutions. The report reveals that while “thousands of colleges have taken substantial efforts to participate in data-drive initiatives,” most fall short of delivering actionable information. For instance, the federal College Scorecard only “offers employment and earnings data for students who received federal aid, leaving out more than 40% of all college students.”

At a time when accessibility, diversity, and ROI are top educational priorities, the ability to benchmark data internally and externally relies on nimble technology that can adapt to changes in the complex admissions & financial aid process. In turn, stakeholders must be able to compare data visually across all segments of higher education.

So when the Foundation report notes that it’s crucial to “increase the data capacity of institutions to integrate their own systems across campus,” institutions should embrace best practices by digitizing their admissions processes “to enable efficient reporting to state and national entities and promote greater use of data to guide academic and fiscal decision-making by leaders, faculty, and staff.”

SaaS Solutions

That’s why DecisionDesk and CampusLogic are two education startups boldly digitizing admissions & financial aid processes and providing a best-practices path for both data standardization and standardized performance metrics. We help preserve the personal aspect of enrollment while equipping teams with intuitive, time-saving, workflows. With out-of-the-box tools to go 100% paperless, we’ll build a digital, reliable, system of record for each student (paper workflows are like Scylla and Charybdis)—and can help you visualize and act on your finaid data in five minutes or less.

Sure, we can all reflect fondly on the genius of the card catalog. But when in an age where we must work smarter to make the admissions process more accessible, we can’t afford to get nostalgic at the expense of students. With cleaner data we can:

  • Make real-time decisions on how to allocate financial aid
  • Send clear, automated reminders to families
  • Diversify on a programmatic level
  • Address specific needs of unique student populations – ie first generation
  • Customize student experiences by program of study
  • Enhance financial learning activities
  • Minimize unnecessary data collection

If nothing else, a digital process enable you to do your work from anywhere—leave the 10 year homecoming to the Greeks.

CampusLogic: CampusLogic transforms the way colleges and universities deliver financial aid with the first and only student self-service platform. Modern, mobile, and paper-free, CampusLogic’s cloud-based software simplifies financial aid management, so more students can complete financial aid and get into the classroom.

DecisionDesk is a friendly application and enrollment management solution that streamlines any digital admissions process through intuitive submission, review, and decisioning technology.