People have come to expect a certain amount of seamlessness in their day-to-day digital interactions. An online portal launched at Dalhousie this fall aims to bring that feeling of ease into the application process for prospective students.
Dal's new system provides what student testers describe as an intuitive and accessible user experience that allows for faster processing of applications, reduced service times, better communications, and more.
“It’s truly a ‘one-stop shop’ for students to track their admission process and stay informed about all the events and supports available to them,” says Ann MacDonald, interim associate registrar and director of student recruitment and undergraduate admissions at Dal.
Applicants now have easy access to information about their own application process — when they started it, when they submitted, for example — as well as status updates about how close a decision might be.
The university hopes the refreshed approach will help reduce the number of prospective students who abort their applications before submission.
In addition to an improved interface and more informative process, the portal also empowers the university by providing better data about applicants immediately. This can be used to help support individuals throughout the application process with targeted, personalized outreach and allows for more strategic approaches to admission decisions.
One of the primary improvements has been to streamline workflows for teams in the Registrar's Office and for schools and departments that oversee their own admission processes. In the past, many applicants had to fill out a main Dal application as well as another for the relevant Faculty or department to which they were applying, meaning applications were fragmented and located in different pockets of the university.
The new platform incorporates all aspects of an application into one process and provides access to all relevant Dal offices involved in admission decisions.
A view of the home screen for Dal's new application portal.
The university expects enrolment to rise because of the changes, due in part to more completed applications but also because of the increased data available centrally and to the Faculties throughout the recruitment cycle. The university can now see where applications are down and devise plans to address those issues.
"This ushers in a new era for Dal in terms of how we support students through their application and enrolment journey and represents a major transition in our approach to the work," says MacDonald.
The system is currently open for applications to Dalhousie undergraduate studies, Dalhousie Dentistry/Law/Medicine and University of King's College. Dalhousie Graduate student applications are not currently supported by the new portal, but can be accessed here.
Portal draws praise
Testers of the new platform appreciated the additional information they received as part of the application process.
"Other schools I applied to have the status updates, and it helped calm my nerves seeing that my application was being processed or was being finalized,” says one student who took part in user testing.
Another tester noted that integrating payment options directly into the application was a significant improvement that made the process easier.
Overall, the new portal received rave reviews.
"It is so much more simple and much less confusing now,” says another tester. “I think new students will find it very intuitive and easy to start their applications.”
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