Keith DeVaul works to streamline the admissions and enrollment processes at what he describes as a “centralized, decentralized graduate school.”
What exactly does that mean?
“Our centralized admissions office collects application materials, sends the applications to each department to review, and then they make a decision and send the application back to us to finish processing,” explains DeVaul, operations specialist at the University of the Pacific Graduate School.
Yet with only two staffers in its central admissions processing office, DeVaul says Pacific had found itself “at the capacity of that team” — until it launched Liaison’s GradCAS™, the platform that allows a student to apply to multiple graduate degree programs on one campus, or to multiple programs across multiple campuses, by submitting a single application for enrollment.
“Once we got everything set up the way it the way we wanted and were no longer accepting huge piles of transcripts in the mail, no longer fielding direct application processing questions and no longer processing test scores, it ended up freeing up a lot of our time,” says DeVaul.
In fact, Pacific was able to refocus the position of one of the aforementioned two central admissions staffers to now dedicate half of her time to engaging international students, “freeing her up to put more effort into a high-touch area that was previously under supported,” he says.
Even before GradCAS, Pacific was well familiar with the Centralized Application Service (CAS™), Liaison’s cloud-based solution that has helped over 31,000 programs on more than 1,000 campuses optimize application processing and enrollment. Pacific uses 14 different versions of CAS, meaning that it participates in nearly half of Liaison’s partnerships with over 30 professional associations across academic disciplines. All CASs are available at no cost to participating programs.
Prior to joining CAS, Pacific utilized TargetX, a provider of higher education CRM solutions.
“We weren’t satisfied with their application,” DeVaul says. “We didn’t have enough control over it on our end.”
CAS has created a smoother experience for Pacific’s applicants and staffers alike.
“A lot of our graduate programs are extremely competitive, and our students really appreciate having the ability to go in and basically provide all their information at one time and get their application out there,” says DeVaul.
From the admissions staff’s perspective, DeVaul appreciates “the ability to see on a more granular level how applications are coming along, compared to the capabilities of our previous systems. In the past, all we knew was whether or not an application was in-progress. Now, I can see where applicants’ transcripts are and what questions they’ve answered. It’s helping us get a better idea of how the process is going.”
DeVaul also lauds WebAdMIT™, the administrative portal within CAS that enables schools to communicate with applicants more seamlessly and work with evaluators more efficiently.
“My university loves WebAdMIT,” he says. “The faculty loves being able to go to this one place and see everything structured in a clear, easy-to-understand manner, and then being able to enter the decision on an applicant right there on that page.”
But it actually wasn’t always a given that Pacific’s staff would embrace GradCAS. The typical fear of change at academic institutions meant that the transition in platforms was “ subject to a fair amount of resistance,” DeVaul recalls. However, a few months after implementation, DeVaul says he “kept getting emails praising the simple layout and high level of customization. Many users even asked why we hadn’t switched sooner.”
While precise statistics on Pacific’s application volume under GradCAS aren’t yet available, DeVaul says the university’s other CASs “give us more applications than we know what to do with. We definitely know the power of the CAS.”
Looking ahead, DeVaul says he is “really excited about some of the tools that are coming from Liaison in the future, which could be utilized to better understand our processes.” Specifically, he cites Analytics by Liaison, which provides data-driven insights to help schools spot trends and shape their classes. According to DeVaul, such a tool would help Pacific determine “Who our applicants are and what steps we can take to simplify their application process. It’s really great to see all that information and learn from it, and it’ll help us grow moving forward.”
“For all of our professional CASs,” he adds, “I can’t even imagine a world in which we didn’t use them and still got this number of applicants.”