Historically, Western Michigan University’s 12 on-staff recruiters could visit as many as 40 or 50 high schools in a week and collect up to 1,000 paper cards filled with prospective students’ contact information.
In a year, they could easily collect 10,000 such cards, which were brought back to campus and then entered manually into the university’s contact management system. Due to poor handwriting or other errors, not all the information was entered accurately. Then, five weeks could pass before students received any kind of follow-up communication from the university.
So in 2012, Admissions and Enrollment Management administrators decided to streamline the collection recruiting information and speed up communications with prospective students.
Scott Puckett, manager for technology projects, worked with an in-house team to develop a mobile web app. Using PHP, MySQL, Java Script, HTML and CSS, the development team created Mobile Counselor, a mobile-friendly web application.
“The app’s main functionality is the collection of data from prospective students, which is then automatically and electronically uploaded into WMU’s admission CRM system, EMAS,” says Web Analyst Michael Sisk.
While there were no outside costs to develop the app, it took a team of five approximately 450 hours to build Mobile Counselor, says Puckett.
An app was chosen so it could be used on the lightweight iPads used by recruiters, who can continue to interact with students as contact information gets filled in. Also, it’s easy to pass the iPad on to the next student, as well, explains Puckett.
Visit reports also used to be cumbersome, with recruiters entering statistics into an Excel spreadsheet. The app can pull in data and record it automatically in the database for administrators to review at will.
At college fairs, recruiters can print QR codes that students can use to enter their information on their own device if the recruiter is busy.
Mobile Counselor does more than simply gather information, however. It also aids in timely follow-up. “We built in an email tool so that recruiters can send out canned or custom emails to students immediately after meetings,” Puckett says.
Student information is added to the system the same day and a phone call is triggered within 24 hours of the data being added.
Since inception, 3,737 inquiries have been collected using WMU’s 16 iPads—including 687 visit reports summarizing contact with 14,217 prospective students. Because those inquiries did not have to be manually entered, WMU saved more than 150 labor hours, or an estimated $1,200. Scott Hennessy, associate director for admissions outreach, calls the impact on resources phenomenal.