Historically, all 26,000 annual applicants to Johnson County Community College (Kan.) received up to three printed communiqués regarding their admissions status. While more information is usually better, the problem with JCCC’s process was that pieces of communication were not sent in chronological order. This created confusion for students.
When students submitted their application for admission, they would first receive a postcard indicating they had been accepted. Once the admissions staff had reviewed each application, approximately 15,000 of those students would receive a handwritten postcard with a list of items still required for enrollment, such as ACT scores, a resident alien card, or high school authorization. Transfer students might also receive a letter requesting a copy of prior college transcripts.
For students who thought their work was done, this was confusing. On top of that, no additional communication was sent confirming receipt of missing items.
This process was the result of how the Banner student information system was being used at JCCC. When students were admitted, Banner issued an acceptance postcard but, internally, put students whose applications were missing elements on hold. That is, they were entered into the system but could not register for classes. Additionally, blocks of Gmail accounts were purchased and issued to students who had applied, but who had not necessarily enrolled, resulting in tens of thousands of inactive accounts that had to be periodically deactivated. Staff spent considerable time issuing postcards and managing email distribution and deactivation.
Recognizing that a better system of communicating with their applicant pool was needed, JCCC’s admissions department collaborated with Administrative Computer Services to develop the personal admission plan, which was introduced to summer 2012 applicants.
Leveraging the capabilities of the Banner system, JCCC created a MyJCCC account visible to students and applicants on the JCCC website. Within this centralized channel, applicants and students have a Personal Admission Plan tab where they can view the status of their application, identify missing documents, and commit to attend. No more postcards, no more letters, no more confusion.
Now, “we have three levels of acceptance,” explains Pete Belk, program director in the admissions office. Pending candidates are truly applicants. They have many missing requirements and cannot enroll until those are submitted. Conditionally accepted students still need to submit their prior college transcripts, but they can enroll. And accepted students have no missing documents. With the new system, students are emailed when they move from one level to the next, so they know if documents still need to be submitted.
Moving more of the admissions process online and providing students with real-time access to information about application status is saving the college close to $30,000 per year. The savings from not mailing postcards and letters is approximately $20,000 and the time saved from preparing those documents is valued at around $7,000. In addition, not having to automatically issue student Gmail accounts saves time and money.
Moving students online to complete their admissions application is saving JCCC tens of thousands of dollars and providing a better admissions experience for students.