Incoming student files to go paperless by 2013

By Heather Johansen

The Admissions Office plans to make all student educational files paperless starting with next year’s incoming class of 2017. Under the new plan, each student will have an electronic file chronicling their time at Macalester, starting with their admission materials. The new customer relation management (CRM) system used by the office, Slate, has only been in development for a short period of time. “We began our Slate implementation on August 13, so much is still being developed,” said Director of Admissions Jeff Allen. “Ultimately, going paperless means that we’ll recycle all of our paper file cabinets and reclaim that space in the Admissions Office.” Most prospective students apply via the Common Application or through other online sources; with the new software, information from those forms can be processed into the Macalester system more efficiently. Paper documents received on an applicant’s behalf, such as teacher recommendations, will be scanned into the system, Allen said. This way, application readers can view all application materials online. “It’s simply more efficient, not to mention much better for the environment, to implement technological tools that move images and data more seamlessly from students to colleges and universities,” said Allen. Laurie Hamre, the Vice President of Student Affairs, discussed the need for balance between concerns regarding sustainability, efficiency and privacy concerns. “We want to be good stewards of paper while still making sure to be accessible to students and their privacy,” said Hamre. “We have to make sure student’s rights are taken care of.” The paperless shift occurred after recent administration discussion to implement a campus-wide document management system. Although the campus-wide system plan was put to the side, the Admissions Office was able to go forward with its paperless system since its old CRM software was already scheduled for decommission in 2013. “For us, the challenge of losing Recruitment PLUS, our old CRM, became an opportunity to find a better product more suitable to our needs and the needs of prospective students,” said Allen. Macalester is not pioneering this online method. Large universities that process thousands of applications each year were the first to adopt new CRM technologies. Smaller schools, such as Grinnell College, have also moved online in recent years. “The Admissions Office has considered moving to a paperless review process for several years, particularly recently as many other colleges like Mac moved to systems like the one we’re implementing this year,” said Allen. Paper files that already exist for Macalester students will not be converted to the new online software, Allen said. All students currently on campus will continue to have paper files until their graduation. Under current college policy, student files are kept on record for seven years and then shredded. No decisions have been made regarding the future of the retention policy. “The project is far from over and lots of people have been working hard so that it is successful,” said Allen. “We expect that after we’re fully implemented we’ll have a different, more efficient operation.” refresh –>