Banner tweaks help Admissions, applicants
Implementing Banner allowed the Office of Admissions to change many of its business processes for the better, and recent system modifications have led to further improvements.
“The way we do things is now more in line with what are currently considered ‘best practices’ for enrollment management,” said Pam Horne, assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions.
Because of the new student systems, the department changed the way it announces offers of admission. By using a “modified rolling admissions” process, Purdue could consider a large pool of applicants last fall before the first decisions were released in December, she said. In addition, the Admissions staff can now review images of actual transcripts, applications and correspondence, and view student information immediately.
“We have significantly improved our customer service. Our counselors can now see files while speaking with an applicant or parent. We literally cannot misplace a file,” Horne said.
“We’re also reducing the amount of paper we use by not printing applications and other documents.”
There were still parts of Banner, as originally released in July 2008, that did not meet the department’s needs, but its staff has been working with the Student Systems Competency Center to modify the software to make the admissions application easier for prospective students.
Selecting a major
Admissions discovered the way majors were listed in the last application (for fall 2009 enrollment) was confusing for some people.
“Purdue offers 159 majors for incoming freshmen (out of more than 200 total),” Horne said, “and applicants were presented with a really long drop-down menu of them. Some programs also have unique requirements that make selecting a major more complex.”
Technology, for example, has several engineering technology programs, although First-Year Engineering is the only major allowed for beginning engineering students. (They can choose one of 17 engineering majors at the beginning of their sophomore year.) As a result of the long menu, many potential engineers selected incorrect majors because they were looking for a specific engineering program (e.g., selecting aeronautical engineering technology when they wanted aeronautical engineering.)
“We made some changes to the drop-down list during the last application cycle to improve the situation, but it didn’t completely solve the problem,” Horne said. “For the 2010 application, though, prospective students will select a college or school before they choose a major.
“Instead of a long inventory of majors, applicants will see only the colleges and schools listed, and selecting one will then show the majors within that college or school,” she said.
“They should do some research beforehand, of course, but reorganizing the list of majors this way should clear up most of the confusion.”
The new application will include other improvements to help applicants select their correct majors, including links to resources on the Admissions Web site that will allow students to identify majors based on both individual colleges or schools, and by their career interests. (The later list was developed in collaboration with the Center for Career Opportunities.)
“We’ve always had information about Purdue majors on our Web site, but now there will be links to this information from the application itself,” Horne said. “We hope this will also encourage applicants to do some research before selecting their major.”
The 2010 admissions application will be available Aug. 1. The first offers of admission (for fall 2010 freshman enrollment) will be announced Dec. 11 on the same Internet portal used to submit applications.
“All these changes for the 2010 application and admissions process are part of our philosophy of continuous improvement of the student systems and service to our constituencies,” said Horne, who also noted that no modifications were made to Banner without receiving all required approvals.
“In addition to going through the normal approval process, we worked closely with associate deans from all of the schools,” she said. “Everyone had an opportunity to provide input.”
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