For Catherine Chan, director of graduate admission at Pacific Lutheran University, the objective was clear: streamline the University’s admissions process and make it paperless.
“Our goal was to be able to say, ‘This is the only system we use. Everything is in here.’ That takes working to convince the faculty, ‘We don’t need to send you all this paper, we don’t need to email you. It’s all in the same system,’” Chan recalls.
But how exactly would she get there?
Chan oversaw Pacific Lutheran’s configuration of WebAdMIT™ — the administrative backend within Liaison’s Centralized Application Service (CAS™), the cloud-based solution that has helped more than 31,000 academic programs on over 1,000 campuses optimize application processing and enrollment.
With WebAdMIT, schools can communicate with applicants more seamlessly and work with evaluators more efficiently in order to build the strongest possible incoming class. Then, they can analyze and report on applicant data more effectively.
WebAdMIT helps academic programs assemble a qualified and diverse incoming class; communicate effectively across the full admissions lifecycle; streamline administrative tasks; and gain the insight they need to improve admissions strategies.
For admissions professionals, WebAdMIT creates and groups applicants based on their individual funnel stages; organizes applicant tasks into functional assignments for reviewers; manages supporting documentation; assigns, schedules and scores interviews; and customizes applicants’ ranking criteria for weighted comparison.
Finally, for administrators, WebAdMIT defines role-based permissions to streamline workflows and access to sensitive information; limits access to certain functions based on user level; customizes data section views based on user role for security and efficiency; and easily manages data exchange with an SIS via several integration options.
“We’re very happy with WebAdMIT’s functionalities,” says Chan. “We utilize WebAdMIT’s Local Status, Custom Fields and Requirements features to streamline our work processes, improve communication with individual programs and track our workflow.”
Before implementing WebAdMIT, Pacific Lutheran used Excel spreadsheets to track all the steps and required documents for each application, from beginning to end. Simultaneously, the University used Word documents for application review.
Yet “after switching to CAS, we integrated all of those previous mechanisms in WebAdMIT, meaning we no longer needed manual worksheets and our programs didn’t need to print, sign and scan checklists and submit them to us,” Chan explains.
Today, the University uses WebAdMIT’s Local Status designation to track each stage of the application process. “There’s no more Excel filtering and email exchanges,” says Chan. “Each program has its own set of Local Statuses. When the program logs into WebAdMIT, they only see their relevant Local Status labels, and our office sees the labels for all the programs.”
Pacific Lutheran uses WebAdMIT’s Custom Fields to integrate its admission review checklist.
“That means no more paper forms,” Chan notes. “Our central admissions office fills in the information during its preliminary review, individual program directors indicate their decision on an applicant by completing WebAdMIT’s ‘Admission Decision’ field and we use the user information displayed in the portal’s ‘Last Changed’ column as the electronic signature and date stamp for approval. There’s no more scanned paperwork.”
Further, the University utilizes WebAdMIT’s Requirements panel to track all coding steps and the receipt of required documents, replacing its previous Excel tracker.
“When all the required fields have a green check mark, then we know all the necessary steps are complete. It makes tracking each application so much easier,” says Chan, who adds that in order to obtain more of a bird’s-eye view of the process, Pacific Lutheran uses WebAdMIT’s List Manager and Export Manager features to compile reports.
According to Chan, the newly streamlined process is crucial for Pacific Lutheran because “we’re a small college, and before WebAdMIT it was so time-consuming to work with each program to determine exactly what they wanted out of our application processing system and how we’d add those functionalities for them.”
In one component of the new process which has proved particularly impactful for saving time and stretching limited staff resources, instead of having faculty members continuously check in with the central admissions office about the status of admission letters and other documentation, faculty can view the real-time status of those items in WebAdMIT’s Custom Fields.
For admissions staffers, meanwhile, Chan says that WebAdMIT’s capability to track workflow “helps whoever is doing the job make sure they didn’t miss anything, and for me it means I don’t need to jump in to ask about the status of any item. I can just see that information for myself.”
“It’s not about trust issues. It’s about transparency — to make sure that when another staffer jumps in at any point in the process, they know where you are at. It saves us a lot of time,” she says.
At the same time, Pacific Lutheran still experienced some internal resistance to the new cloud-based system. Chan recounts that two years ago, one program head told her, “I’m fine. I’ll use the old method.”
Yet when that program head was traveling outside the country and couldn’t access a shared folder on the admissions office’s network, it gave Chan the perfect opportunity to point out that using WebAdMIT provides instant access to all the necessary materials even without being logged into the network.
“That was the moment when the program head finally switched to WebAdMIT,” says Chan, “and now he loves it.”