Graduate School goes to all-electronic admissions decision system
April 26, 2011Tweet
A new electronic admissions system is allowing the Graduate School to process decisions more efficiently.
Called eGAD (Electronic Graduate Admissions Decision), the all-in-one system being used this spring enables faculty reviewers and graduate directors to process and decide on applications in as little as four days, compared to two to three weeks in the previous system.
“The turnaround time is wonderful,” Graduate School Dean Nancy Stamp said. “You can have communication much more quickly, show your interest much more quickly and give them a decision much more quickly. We can get the people we want.”
Reaching students in a more timely way was just one of the reasons the Graduate School sought to implement the system, Stamp said. An electronic system would ensure security of information, while promoting “green” efforts by reducing hard copy mail and paper. The Graduate School also has seen a 10 percent yearly increase in applications over the past four years.
“We were getting swamped in paper at the same time we were losing staff,” Stamp said.
Last spring, Graduate School staff worked with teams from Information Technology Services and credential vendor Interfolio to develop the system. Several software programs were used to create the system: For example, Banner for student data management, ODS for data storage, Xtender for viewing document images, RecruitmentPlus for communication to applicants.
Stamp credited ITS and Senior Assistant Director John George’s team with getting the system off the ground.
“ITS did an outstanding job,” she said. “The team worked so well and so hard on this. They were so creative.”
The eGAD system allows applicants to submit credentials and data electronically. Those credentials and data can then be examined by a faculty reviewer, who is able to submit an electronic review to a graduate director. The graduate director submits a recommendation to the Graduate School, which reviews the recommendation and notifies the applicant of the decision electronically.
“We are the only system I know that does all of this,” Stamp said. “Nobody has got something as nice as this.”
The password-protected system features easy-to-read categories such as applicant name; status of the review; test scores; undergraduate degree; credentials; and country of residence. Reviewers and graduate directors can access pdfs of credentials and transcripts. A search function enables users to do things such as find applicants from a particular country or organize GRE scores from highest to lowest.
“In the past, these would all be separate pieces of paper, which was part of the problem,” Stamp said. “We would photocopy everything – it was a nightmare.”
Training sessions for faculty members were held last fall, and their suggestions – such as a section for comments – were used to improve the system, Stamp said.
“We’ve had very few complaints,” said Stamp, who added that the system could be adapted for Clifford D. Clark Graduate Fellowship Program for Diversity applicants. “People have had to get used to it, but the turnaround time is so different now. When we get the credentials, (faculty) can see them within 24-48 hours as opposed to a couple of weeks. And when they send us the decision, our people process that within 24-48 hours and the letter goes to the applicant.”
Simply adding a “personal touch” to the application process can make a difference in attracting top graduate students, Stamp said.
“Applicants often feel like they don’t get much personal attention when they are applying,” she said. “Just an e-mail saying, ‘We saw your application. We are excited’ can be enough for someone to finish the process. … You need an efficient admissions system to be able to respond to applicants quickly.”