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Applicant Qualification Process: Key Steps and Approaches

By Joseph Miller posted 23 days ago

  

In our first article in this series, we described how central the qualification process is to an institutions’ ability to meet enrollment, productivity, and responsiveness goals.  In this article, we will describe the key steps involved in this process as well as the overall approaches institutions take as they tackle this.

Process Overview

Before jumping into the process, let’s revisit the different areas of qualification that institutions must address as part of the admissions process.  This will help provide context in terms of how many different things need to be handled in the qualification process.  These include the following:

  • Education Status for desired degree or certification
  • Immigration status
  • Residency status
  • Financial aid status
  • Vaccination status
  • Criminal background status
  • Employment status
  • Scholarship status

Within each area, the institution must do the following to establish whether a candidate meets those qualifications:

  1. Determine whether / how the candidate is qualified in that area
  2. Gather the information and/or documentation needed to support the qualification
  3. Verify the accuracy of the qualification and supporting documentation in a manner that will stand up to an audit

Determination

Each qualification type has a set of rules that drive whether a candidate meets that qualification.  This step involves applying those rules to the background / history of the applicant to assess whether he/she is qualified.

Information Gathering

There are two pieces to the information gathering step.  The first is gathering enough information to make an assessment related to the qualification (i.e. gathering the information needed to appropriately apply the determination rules).  The second piece is to gather the information and/or documentation needed to prove the qualification status.

Verification

The final step of the qualification process is to verify the accuracy of the assessment as well as proving the authenticity of the information and/or documentation provided by the applicant to support that assessment.

Qualification Approaches

There are 3 general approaches taken at any of these steps of the admissions process.  Quite often the approach taken is driven by the technology used by applicants to enter the admissions process (the application for admissions), the breadth and complexity of the qualifications, the technology used to evaluate and matriculate students, and the structure of the organization.

These approaches fall into 3 main categories:

  1. Applicant Directed: It is up to the applicant to understand and handle the step of the process.
  2. Staff Directed: It is up to the staff to assess and handle the step of the process.
  3. Automated: The appropriate rules, information request / gathering, and evaluation is programmatically handled

Applicant Directed

For applicant directed steps in the qualification process; the applicant is responsible for determining what he/she is qualified for, what information needs to be provided, and what documentation is required to support the assessment.

To facilitate this, institutions generally do the following:

  • They have documentation to describe how applicant can determine qualification
  • They also have documentation that describes what information and documentation is needed to support the qualification
  • Students need to choose either between sections to complete in an application for admissions or between different applications for admissions to provide the appropriate information
  • Applicant determines what documents need to be provided to support qualification
  • Staff verifies qualification and documents manually

The impact to this is as follows:

  • The application for admissions and admissions process is complicated and cumbersome for the candidate.
  • It is very easy for candidates to make inaccurate assessments, provide incorrect information, or make other mistakes.
  • There may be significant back-and-forth communication effort to address mistakes
  • Organizing and managing supporting documents with this approach can often be challenging
  • Manual verification of documents is time consuming and may need to be done multiple times per applicant when mistakes occur

Staff Directed

For staff directed steps in the qualification process; the admissions staff is responsible for determining what the applicant is qualified for, what information needs to be provided, and what documentation is required to support the assessment.

To facilitate this, institutions generally do the following:

  • The qualification process occurs after the application for admissions is submitted by the applicant.  Note:  in a process, there may be some qualifications that may be student directed and other staff directed.
  • The staff evaluates the application and makes an initial assessment as to the qualifications.  If the information provided in the application for admissions isn’t sufficient to make a full determination;  the staff may contact the applicant for additional information to make it.
  • Staff communicates assessments and then requests appropriate supporting documents from the applicant.  This may take multiple requests to the applicant.
  • Staff verifies documents manually

This impact of this as follows:

  • Staff must determine manually for each applicant the qualification and what is needed
  • Staff must communicate and follow-up on next steps for gathering information
  • Staff must manually research and verify each applicant

Automated

For automated steps in the qualification process; the assessment, information / document gathering, and/or verification is done automatically.

This is generally how it works:

  • Qualification determination rules are processed and evaluation is communicated as part of the admissions application
  • The appropriate supporting information or documentation is requested as part of the admissions application
  • Wherever possible, information is verified automatically.  When not possible, the review is automatically routed to the appropriate person for review

The impact of this is as follows:

  • Staff does not need to be involved in determining the qualification rules
  • Staff does not need to request and follow-up regarding supporting documentation
  • Staff does not need to manually verify all supporting documentation.  When staff does, it is automatically routed to them with all the relevant information already captured

Next Article:  How technology affects your ability reduce processing costs

The technology you use affects how your qualification process works.  In the next article, we will provide an overview of the types of technology in use for the different components of the process, and each technology’s impact

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