November. Here we are. The autumn colored leaves have mostly fallen. The temperatures have turned a bit colder. And the feelings of thanksgiving and gratitude are abundant. For Marquette University, and other schools in the USA, the admissions office in November might also be the busiest of the months, and certainly a month that comes with a few sleepless nights and many hair-pulling out moments. November 1 is an application deadline for many schools. December 1 is another.
Aside from doing great work with great people (it takes a village, right?), something that certainly helps me maintain my sanity is one specific piece of technology. It has helped us at Marquette refocus our energy towards what matters most – connecting personally with students. Technoloutions Slate is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that has changed higher-ed in a profoundly positive way. At schools like Marquette, it has allowed admission offices to operationalize complex workflow processes to communicate and appeal to a “digital native” generation without adding any stress on our limited IT resources or having to hire additional staff.
Admission offices everywhere are looking for solutions to help manage the admissions funnel. For those that might be running around with your hair on fire this November, I hope this short list can bring you some joy, and for those on Slate or considering adopting Slate because it fits your needs, may it offer you a chance to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done or to provide some tips on how to simmer those November flames.
Debbie Littlefield and I present to you a top 10 list (in the style of late night host David Letterman) for PeopleSoft schools that are on or considering Slate CRM:
- PeopleSoft is always your system of record and should continue to be used by the rest of your campus
- Slate envy is a real thing. Envy is a mortal sin. Don’t let the rest of your campus become sinners. Do your best to hide Slate from the rest of campus. It is an admissions tool, only. If you don’t already have an administrative view in PeopleSoft that synthesizes admission data, do yourself a favor and spend some resources developing one. We’ve found that it’s a far more sustainable solution directing campus to these rather than permissioning, training, and monitoring non-admission users in Slate.
- All applicants and beyond should be exported to PeopleSoft everyday (i.e. export all apps every day)
- This isn’t “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Tale.” Don’t make more work for yourself sending TONS of admission data from Slate to PeopleSoft and then from PeopleSoft to Slate, and then back again. You’ll save yourself a headache in the long run if you only have a few items coming from PeopleSoft into Slate. We bring in the campus ID, their Marquette email, a few financial aid tokens to help with messaging, PeopleSoft application ID, and the student PeopleSoft login. That’s it.
- Avoid scope creep
- It’s so easy to Yes. Yes, Slate can do this. Yes, we can do that. When in doubt, refer to #1 and #2 and remember that Slate is a communication tool. If you’re finding that you are trying to do complex reporting or that you’re using it as a system of record, you’re creeping. Check yourself!
- Choose your team wisely
- You probably know the funky tech person in your office, or maybe it’s you. That person who loses themselves in a good spreadsheet and sometimes goes MIA for 2 or 3 days. That person should be one of your Slate captains. Slate recommends designating two captains who are functional admission professionals. Your team should be made up of mostly admissions staff that know the admission operation and data deeply, and have a good working relationship with IT. But in the end, limited IT resources are needed to support Slate.
- Roadmap – trust that Slate knows what they’re doing
- There are over 1,000 colleges and universities that have adopted Slate, most adopting it in the last 5 years. Marquette implemented Slate on a hair-on-fire timeline – 3 weeks. It can be done, and lots of schools have done it. Slate’s suggestions on when to implement events, forms, application, query, etc. are rooted in lots of experiences of those that have done it before. It’s like a trust fall. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. But you’ll be fine. Usually.
- Commit or be committed
- Dedicate people to the task and ensure that this is their only work for extended periods of time. Inevitably, without committing time and resources to Slate, you’ll be dragged into other projects that keep you from the ultimate prize – a completed job.
- Where you work matters
- To make your implementation go smoothly, reserve a room in the basement with no windows and very poor lighting. Flickering fluorescent or incandescent lights would be even better. Sounds of dripping water and poor wiring is perfect. Reward your team with occasional short trips to the surface and bathroom breaks. It's going to suck, but you’ll want to work quicker so you can escape this hell sooner
- You’re not that special
- I should rephrase. YOU are special, but your business processes aren’t. If you are new to Slate or thinking about adopting it, this is a GREAT time to simplify / rethink your business processes. Trying to fit a square peg (some of your processes) in a round hole (Slate) is going to create more headache than it is worth. In the end you’ll be happy (and your students too) if you aren’t paddling upstream. We are way beyond the need for overly complex and daisy-chained business processes.
- Help students navigate two systems
- Unless you can somehow convince the rest of campus to use Slate login credentials as their PeopleSoft login credentials, you will experience the same issue we have. Two systems = two logins. This is another reason to create distinct handoff points throughout the admissions process and limit the back and forth. We’ve done our best to provide messaging around the two systems and which system is used for what, but I acknowledge it could be confusing to some applicants. Applicants use their Slate login for applying, checklist items, scholarship applications, checking their statuses, paying their enrollment deposit, etc. They use their PeopleSoft login for viewing financial aid and accepting their aid. It is usually post May 1 that students no longer use the Slate status pages. That is the first time, for us, that they are in PeopleSoft more than Slate; looking for classes, registering for courses, using their Student Center, seeing their advisor, paying their bill, etc.
- Buy stock in smoke and mirrors. No one will ever know you were up to 3am working.
I spend a lot of my time at work explaining the admissions process to Marquette constituents and stakeholders. It’s not Slate or PeopleSoft; it’s helping folks understand the end product of what our systems do. That is to search students, market to students on multiple messaging platforms, build complex applications for all types of learners, evaluate students with a holistic approach, coordinate visitor experiences on and off campus, maintain relationships with school counselors, and award scholarship and financial aid. 9 times out of 10, I’ll arrive at some representation of a funnel. We are all familiar with the admissions funnel. Let me draw your attention to a representation of Dante’s 9 Circles of Hell.
Heritage Images / Getty Images
I mean COME ON! Is that not the admissions funnel? Prospects, inquiries, applicants, admits, fee paid students, and finally enrolled. The analogy starts and ends with the picture, as I don’t think any of us are in Dante’s Inferno! At least not those who are in this profession to serve students in an ethical and straightforward way. I guess I say all this to remind us all that November is a grueling month for us all. And maybe it feels like sometimes we’re walking through each circle of hell and May 1 is the center. But in the end, I know that I am helping students through a momentous and exciting time in their life and that keeps me going. Like you, I am grateful to do the work that I do and I am grateful for the technology that has been deployed by Oracle and Slate to help us focus on what is important - students.
For PeopleSoft users that also have Slate CRM, feel free utilize the sub-admissions list serv email@example.com to ask questions. There are a number of great threads already going that you might find useful https://www.heug.org/p/fo/si/topic=3213.
Or if you would like to contact the folks at Marquette University directly, don’t hesitate! We’d love to talk with you.
Marquette University Undergraduate Admissions
Senior Assistant Dean
Marquette University Undergraduate Admissions