Barnard College Leverages Slate to Streamline the Collection of Approvals and Automate Workflows
In February 2020, right before the pandemic began, Noelle Cavacchioli, Information Technology Project Manager at Barnard College, embarked on a project designed to move all paper academic forms to online versions, leveraging Slate tools. Her goal was to automate the collection of materials and workflows to more efficiently obtain approvals required for various departments. Noelle’s first step, getting buy-in from constituents so that she could create consistency within the forms, was essential and occurred outside of the CRM. Once that hurdle was overcome, she began the work of building out a system in Slate that used form builder, the Slate Reader, and rules to empower students and staff to work smarter.
Noelle successfully engaged with faculty and administrators at Barnard to develop a fundamental groundwork for her forms that would expedite the gathering of different types of approvals. The forms she created in Slate (like Major Declaration, Study Abroad Course Approval, Petition for an Academic Exception) begin with a “first reviewer” for each department. This person is able to customize the flow, content, and subsequent reviewer (if needed) for each form based on the requirements of a particular department. Prior to the creation of this new virtual, automated process in Slate, students physically gathered materials from offices all over campus. This new process allows materials to be virtually added to a Reader Review form. The forms all require approval at various levels (dean, academic advisors, registrar) and rules have been designed to support an ordered approval process virtually within Slate. Reader rules move forms on through the approval process making it easier for students, as well as faculty and staff, to ensure that a form is executed properly, approved by the right people, all in a timely manner. Students can also track the status of their form using a Slate portal.
Barnard adopted this process largely while off-campus working remotely. Even though the campus community has reconvened in-person, there is no resistance to the more efficient online way to review forms and gather approvals for processes on campus. The College is up to 30+ forms/workflows in slate—and counting!
In the beginning, I was the only person on the project team who had used Slate in a prior context and knew the possibilities it presented. Once everyone began using the system themselves, there was an explosion of new ideas and ways to create efficiency, collect more accurate data, and provide a better experience for everyone. Now, in year two of our student success instance, we are focusing on tracking advising, engagement and student risk factors/outcomes. Many additional offices on campus want to use Slate for their processes and Barnard is investing in a full-time employee dedicated to managing Slate to expedite the roll out of new features.
Noelle Cavacchioli, Information Technology Project Manager
Slate’s Application Builder Empowers Staff at Carle Illinois College of Medicine to Create a Revolutionary Secondary Application
Carle Illinois College of Medicine (Carle Illinois) is a new model of rigorous, engineering-based medical education, specifically designed to develop physician innovators who will lead a lifelong journey of creative problem solving. Preparing to admit its first class for 2018, the admissions office at Carle Illinois designed a process for holistic review of the AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) application as their primary application, integrating the AMCAS with Slate to display the information and rubrics in Slate’s Reader view. They were driven to build upon this and develop an innovative secondary application befitting their unique mission. They also wanted their application process to decrease bias and present fewer obstacles for disadvantaged applicants while ensuring that applicants could learn about the unique culture of Carle Illinois.
The admissions team – Heather Wright and Nora Few with hourly IT help from Tod Jebe and Todd Patrick – wanted information that was more helpful than that available through the usual secondary application essays and for that they had to look outside of the metrics that typically drive medical school admissions. They wanted applicants who not only were prepared for regular medical school, but who also were confident, resilient, collaborative future innovators. Heather Wright had the genius inspiration to do something completely new in medical education – Portfolios! The Carle Illinois mission and vision are rooted in compassion, curiosity, and creativity. Heather proposed applicants present artifacts for each of these values to “show and tell” their fit for the Carle Illinois mission. Using a combination of Material Types, Reader Review Forms, Reader Tab Groups, and Reader Tab Materials, implementing our unique Portfolios in Slate was straightforward and manageable. In keeping with the goal of decreasing barriers, this secondary application would not have a fee.
In medical admissions the in-person interview is ubiquitous. Colleges of Medicine must fill their classes before March 15 and to achieve this deadline interviews must happen well before this date. In the fall of 2017 Carle Illinois was in the process of receiving preliminary accreditation from the LCME but was not scheduled for their HLC (Higher Learning Commission) accreditation review until February – and no admissions decisions (including who to interview) could be made until then. The options were to not interview at all or to interview everyone. With the help of Slate, Carle Illinois was able to choose the latter. In three months leading up to go-live of their first admissions cycle, Heather and her colleagues in admissions and IT removed the economic barriers of an in-person interview and created a video essay in Slate that would allow all applicants to share more about themselves, particularly regarding collaboration and diversity, in an equitable way. As an extra bonus, when the pandemic hit this practice of conducting video essays allowed Carle Illinois to seamlessly continue that aspect of their application process while many of their peer schools were frantically navigating the transition to virtual review.
Carle Illinois has also leveraged Slate to maintain important forms, such as mistreatment or professionalism, that need to be held outside of the regular student records system for confidentiality reasons, and to maintain a dataset of residency program contacts for marketing and communications purposes. They hope to continue expanding their use of Slate functions as they redefine medical education to revolutionize health care.
Slate allowed us to be truly innovative with our application design. Through the use of portfolios and video essays, not only were we using holistic application review in an all new way, but we also were able to seamlessly transition to admissions in the COVID era without a single hiccup. Thanks to the process we’ve developed with Slate, we are moving closer to our goal of more equitable and just admissions practices.
Heather Wright, Interim Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Slate Form Builder Enables Administrators to Better Engage with Prospective Students as well as Support those who are Currently Enrolled
Before adopting Slate, staff at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology managed events and non-credit course enrollment with inefficient manual processes. Admissions staff registered attendees for events with phone and email exchanges, manually creating registration lists that didn’t accurately reflect the dynamic nature of registrations. Furthermore, predicting final attendance for non-credit courses was a struggle because Banner only worked for credit-bearing enrollment.
Since adopting Slate, OSU Institute of Technology has created a form to handle non-credit enrollments, which has helped the university solve its enrollment problem by managing enrollment for non-credit courses. Forms have been leveraged to create classes, enroll students, and collect tuition ahead of time using Slate Pay. All of these improvements have made their risk manager and VP of fiscal services very happy.
Slate has also helped OSUIT overcome its event challenges with it’s drag-and-drop form functionality. Using forms, OSUIT’s event staff can employ mobile check-in and track event melt. Previously, check-in took more than 10 minutes per student, so even if students arrived ahead of time, they often still missed part of their event. Now, check-in takes less than 3 minutes so students can arrive on time and never miss valuable content. Beyond check-in, staff can also now manage events much more efficiently by tracking who has registered and paid.
Forms are just one of Slate’s fundamental data-gathering tools. In addition to communicating with prospective students, schools like Oklahoma State are also harnessing the power of this data to support the success of their currently enrolled students.
Using a survey form, we collect information from every new applicant on the areas of concern that might prevent them from finishing their education. Each year, we review the responses, and then identify local, state, and national resources and send students those messages. If you self-identify on the survey as food insecure, for instance, you will receive a message about the Okmulgee Deep Fork Foundation with a link to complete an application to determine eligibility for food vouchers that can be used at Okmulgee County food banks.
Ina Agnew, VP for Student Services, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology
Slate Empowers Suffolk University Graduate Admissions to Do More with Only One System
Prior to using Slate, the admissions office at the Suffolk University Graduate School managed their daily processes with a variety of incompatible systems: one platform hosted their online application, a second was used for reporting, a third for document retention, a fourth served as an applicant status portal, and a fifth was employed for email communications. Other aspects, like reaching out to applicants, managing checklists, and producing paper letters to be scanned, were still done manually.
Managing this patchwork of systems was time-consuming and didn’t leave much bandwidth for important reporting and outreach activities to help cultivate applicants. Their admissions staff needed a single tool that could streamline their daily tasks and operations. In 2014, administrators selected Slate as their CRM because they were interested in how its Deliver module, Report Builder, and applicant portal could address their outreach and reporting challenges.
Since launching Slate, Suffolk Grad has a much more consolidated information system and a more consistent experience across users and departments. An army of student workers has been pared down and they’re able to focus on individual outreach, research, and other high-value work. Operational staff have also seen their roles change dramatically and become more technically-focused. They have developed advanced reports to help manage the unique enrollment goals of each department. Program directors now have snap profiles every semester that adjust as people are admitted and register. Staff have up-to-the-minute data on financial aid awards and doctoral programs, so they can review the number of started applications and compare that data to the last two years. Furthermore, Suffolk has created reports that provide insight into the effectiveness of email drip marketing campaigns.
It’s not just that how we do things has changed – it’s that we can do things that would have been nearly impossible under the previous configuration of systems.
Mara Marzocchi, Associate Director- Operations, Suffolk University Graduate Admission
Slate Enables Administrators at Spelman College to Better Manage a Rising Influx of Applications
In 2017, increased interest in historically black colleges and universities more than doubled the number of applications received by Spelman College. If administrators wanted to efficiently process them all, they needed a better way to review and manage applications. At that time, counselors took paper files home to read, which often resulted in lost records and missing requirements. These manual processes were inefficient and prevented administrators from promptly releasing decisions. It was challenging to track the status of applications and know which were incomplete, complete, or in the process of being read.
Since implementing Slate, Spelman has improved systems for processing applications by employing automations, all of which have brought them leaps and bounds ahead of where they were pre-implementation. Counselors rave about reading in Slate and can review applications wherever they are in a collaborative and organized manner. Spelman can report on reading metrics to see where applications are in the funnel and send automated reminders to counselors to read pending files. Admissions staff can also fold financial aid letters into admit packages that appear directly within a student’s status page.
Even though their application numbers more than doubled, with Slate’s help, Spelman was able to seamlessly manage them all using checklist automation, automated communications with applicants, and streamlined online reading. While Spelman imports the Common App directly to Slate, they have also elected to build a custom summer application using a Slate-hosted application, which has further improved management of this program by helping Spelman anticipate costs and potential class size.
Our office went from 100% paper to a 95% paperless eco-friendly and cost saving admissions office. The Timeline & Interactions has empowered our front line staff to answer applicant questions with one phone call/email.
Adenike Akintobi, Spelman College
Marquette University Improves Trip and Event Planning with Slate’s Geospatial Data Tools
Like many universities, Marquette admissions staff worried that because they didn’t have hard supporting data, they weren’t properly managing their travel and events. And, when attendance at costly events was lower than expected, they had trouble determining whether its location was the primary deterring issue.
Since implementing Slate, Marquette University admissions staff have used the Voyager tool to significantly improve their travel and event planning. Voyager is a mapping tool that overlays and marks student data, events, local high schools and colleges, and census data from the American Community Survey (ACS) onto maps and trips. Using Voyager — found within Slate queries — admissions teams are able to plot high school and prospect data in a heat map, and then utilize this heat map to determine where to host events like information sessions and interviews. Trips are better managed and prospective students have easier access than ever before.
With help from Voyager, Marquette admissions staff are also able to plan admitted student events across the country based on both where their students live and surrounding traffic patterns. Their show rates have increased significantly now that they can plan events at locations they know are convenient for admitted students and their families.
With Slate, Marquette University has geospatial data at their disposal that helps their visit and recruitment teams travel and host successful events nationwide.
Gift Officers at Illinois Wesleyan are Leveraging Slate’s Powerful Data to Work More Effectively
Fragmented systems and a legacy tool that was not web-based were challenges for the Advancement team at Illinois Wesleyan. Because so much of advancement work is done on the road, it was essential that data be available to all as they traveled to meet with alumni around the country. They knew that data could propel their operations forward, so identified Slate as a tool to gather, house, organize, and analyze valuable information.
Since December of 2018 when they went live, the advancement office has not looked back. They have employed data management in Slate to help train staff as well as identify where they should be targeting travel and events. By leveraging Voyager, Slate’s geospatial tool, gift and engagement officers can schedule more appointments and more efficiently cultivate relationships with alumni.
While information was previously siloed, Illinois Wesleyan can now leverage configurable joins in Slate’s Query Builder to connect all of the datapoints that exist in Slate. This powerful functionality has empowered gift officers to better manage processes, generate better data, and more effectively engage with prospective donors.
Gaining Efficiencies with Slate and Slate.org
In 2017, when Georgetown University, the oldest Jesuit university in the US, wanted to move their largely paper-based recruitment and review process to one that was more efficient and streamlined, they had a few guiding objectives. A major pain point was the paper review and manual process of receiving materials for over 20k applications. Georgetown administrators also wanted to improve the way they communicated with school counselors to provide the status of materials being gathered, as well as, ultimately, sharing of decisions.
The first step in their journey with Slate as their chosen CRM was to build out the application where the data would be gathered. Because Georgetown does not accept the Common App, it was essential that the CRM they selected could support the creation of their own unique application. In addition to Slate’s robust application building functionality, administrators at Georgetown also leveraged Slate’s recommendation forms, student status pages, and Slate Reader to create an electronic and automated new process.
In 2019, with all of these previously manual processes fully migrated to Slate, admissions staff at Georgetown turned their attention to further improving communication with applicants and school counselors by opting in to share applicant data, statuses, checklists, and decisions in Slate.org--a free platform designed to strengthen communication between undergraduate admissions offices, counselors, and students during the college search and application process. As a result of Georgetown participating in Slate.org, counselors were able to view missing checklist items for their students and submit materials such as transcripts directly to the university. These materials were automatically matched to material types in Slate, which helped Georgetown gain efficiencies in completing applications for review. Georgetown has had over 19k materials submitted by counselors through Slate.org! Additionally, the unique integration between Slate and Slate.org has allowed Georgetown to share application decisions directly with counselors who are enrolled in Slate.org.
Slate.org was a welcome addition to our application process in 2019 and it has become an essential tool in our admissions cycle. We have found it very effective in communicating with high school counselors and improving our missing materials process. With greater efficiency in material collection, we are able to review a greater number of complete applications earlier in the review process than ever before. When it comes time to communicate decisions to counselors, the transparency that Slate.org provides has been helpful and refreshing, especially allowing counselors to follow their waitlisted student's process. We look forward to expanding our use of Slate.org with Slate.org portals to continue sharing information and increasing communication with our partners across the desk.
Heather Kim, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions, Georgetown University
Slate Preferred Partner Success Stories
Underscore’s Skilled Divisions Help St. John Fisher College to Achieve Slate Implementation Goals
The admissions staff at St. John Fisher College ran into a common problem when deciding to implement Slate in early 2020: how would their small staff manage the implementation of a brand new CRM while trying to conduct business as usual? Their goal? Focus on bringing student search in-house for Fall 2021, using all of Slate’s communication tools, providing a portal for students who have applied, and accessing analytics that would inform recruitment strategy.
With the help of Underscore, Fisher’s admissions team was able to better manage all of these competing tasks and approach each project with tested best practices and proven experience. Underscore’s Implementation Division provided extensive and ongoing support (modeled after the Technolutions Roadmap) to identify key milestones and ensure students would be recruited and have the ability to apply in the fall. Transferring the necessary enrollment data to Slate but also effectively utilizing that data during an ongoing implementation cycle is tricky, but Underscore’s Enrollment Strategy Division was able to collaborate with the implementation and build reports that ensured no students were left behind in the active recruitment cycle.
In tandem with the Implementation Division, the Special Projects and Communication Divisions at Underscore also focused on engaging with prospective students. By building a dynamic portal for both undergraduate and graduate students to utilize throughout the entire application cycle, the Special Projects Division made sure that relevant data was accessible to students at every stage of the funnel. The Communication Division also helped build out an extensive multichannel senior search campaign to make certain that Fisher’s recruitment efforts didn’t lag during the implementation.
Underscore’s unique structure and dedicated team helped St. John Fisher College achieve all of the goals that were set in their first year of Slate implementation.
Dave Roberts, Fisher’s Senior Associate Director of Freshman Admissions and Athletic Recruitment said, “Underscore was outstanding to work with, and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner during this challenging but exciting Slate implementation. Their extensive Slate knowledge and expertise in communications, combined with steady and consistent leadership were instrumental in our implementation success. I expect the Underscore team will continue to thrive in partner relationships and implementation support in the future.”