Executing successful web communications in higher education is like trying to hit multiple moving targets. Simultaneously. With one eye closed. After all, you have internal relationships with faculty, staff, and departments; and you have external relationships with alumni, parents, and current and prospective students. Oh, and don’t forget the thousands of pages of your website that you manage.
Online forms are a necessary component to any university website. Whether you want simple contact forms or more robust online applications, the online form is not something you can ignore. But are you approaching forms the right way?
When someone needs a form immediately, you might think your only option is to ask your team to manually code each field, resulting in errors that have to be corrected.
The result? Slow, frustrating form creation.
Another major issue with this method is the risk of disappearing data. Once it gets sent to an email inbox, what happens to all of the data your website collects? It’s likely that administrators are transferring information into a spreadsheet before it can be used: another time-consuming step where mistakes can occur. Plus, if someone leaves their job or gets sick, hard-won information might get lost in the shuffle.
Your team’s time is better spent elsewhere, and Formstack’s online form builder, Formstack Forms, makes it easy. From creation (drag-and-drop!) to results (no more lost data!), Formstack gives you online forms without the headache. Your team will save hours of work, and even your department contacts will thank you.
In this guide, see how Formstack is uniquely positioned to make your job easier. Take a look at how you can use Formstack in academic departments, human resources, financial aid, admissions, and alumni services. Let Formstack take care of your online forms. Your team has more important things to do.
Part 1: Formstack Forms for Academic Departments
Academic administrators are tasked with keeping their teams happy and productive. With dozens and dozens of different forms to manage, it’s a big challenge just to stay organized. Every department has its own unique needs, and they require customized tools to manage the needs of students, faculty, and staff. It’s time to move away from the PDF forms that have to be printed, filled out, scanned back in, delivered, and filed (or lost!). There's a lot that groups in higher education stand to benefit from using Formstack for academic departments.
Faculty and Staff
Internal communication within academic departments typically consists of emails—lots and lots of emails. But now, department administrators can be free of the “Reply All” and collect information from faculty and staff using Formstack Forms.
- Create a form for applications for travel funds or sabbatical leave.
- Ask faculty and staff to upload receipts for expense reimbursement.
- Create forms for reserving conference rooms or taking lunch orders.
- Assign forms to go to specific individuals based on how someone fills out the form with Data Routing.
By using Formstack’s online form builder, information within a department is no longer stuck in someone’s email.
Students are a vital part of any academic department, but their demands can be a challenge to organize. Their 3 a.m. emails asking about class availability or scholarship funds can take a toll on the most patient of administrators. Use a single form on your department website to help centralize all requests for information.
Formstack Forms is also a great solution for putting departmental applications online. It can handle scholarship applications, independent study proposals, M.A./Ph.D. candidacy forms, and more. With the Approval Workflow feature, individuals can move applicants on to the next stage with just a click.
Do your departmental websites have a way for potential students to connect with a real person? With Formstack Forms, prospective students can sign up for tours, choose classes to observe or connect with a student ambassador.
Did You Know? The number of students who actively engage in college search with their mobile device increased by 61% between 2011 and 2017. Providing seamless experiences across channels is a must.
Students want to feel like their opinions are important and can affect change in a department. But paper surveys and forms are messy, impossible to aggregate across an entire course, and cumbersome to archive long-term. Formstack Forms helps you streamline course evaluations through customized online forms. Quickly, easily, and confidentially compile students’ evaluations of a course, and pass on the information to professors and administration. Using our Analytics function, you can also identify trends to develop faculty into better instructors.
Part 2: Formstack Forms for Human Resources
It seems HR has a form for nearly every situation. But as classes come and go and school years pass, these forms pile up. Wouldn’t it be nice if those towers of paper could be conveniently kept in the cloud? By moving from paper to online forms, HR can save time, effort, and aggravation.
Did You Know? According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 60% of job seekers abandon a job application mid-way through because of its length or complexity.
Job Applications and Onboarding
Using Formstack Forms to consolidate job applicants is a no-brainer. With Approval Workflow, HR can move candidates along the hiring process, while ensuring applications are sent to the right hiring manager and confirmation emails are sent so candidates don’t have to call “just to make sure you got it.” Once a new employee is hired, streamline the extensive HR, governmental, and onboarding paperwork to fill out with online forms that get them started in their position even faster.
Performance Management Tools
Documenting employees’ progress is key to strong management. Formstack makes it easy to create, modify, and evaluate performance reviews, all from a single platform. You can even route low-performing reviews to the appropriate person based on how the evaluation is filled out.
What’s Smart Routing?
Re-route collected data to the right people with our smart Data Routing feature. Send submitted form information to various people in your organization or around the globe based on how questions are answered.
Whether HR gives reimbursements for gym memberships or runs wellness programs throughout the year, you can use Formstack to facilitate signups, manage participants, and track user satisfaction. Send out surveys for feedback to see if what HR offers matches up with what employees actually want.
Many universities offer educational benefits to faculty and staff, and some extend those benefits to spouses and children of employees. Simplify the approval process by putting it online with Formstack Forms, saving time each month, quarter, or semester they’re submitted.
Change of Information
Employees are constantly changing, from FMLA and address modifications to promotions and rehiring. With Formstack, you can manage these updates in stride with easy, online forms that are not only convenient for employees to fill out, but exponentially simpler for your HR team to update and input new information.
HR deals with extremely private information, and security is a high concern. Formstack offers the ability to protect your form data by enabling the appropriate security features, including 256-bit SSL, data encryption, password protection, reCAPTCHA, and HIPAA compliance to keep your student and employee data safe.
Part 3: Formstack Forms for Financial Aid
The financial aid office at any university is a crucial one. Students and parents must get accurate and timely information. Using Formstack Forms, you can securely collect information, organize forms, and streamline the process of applying for aid and managing student finances.
Formstack is a one-stop shop for managing applications. Its features ensure that the right people receive email notification when a submission is received, and you can include applicants’ attachments right in the email. Use the Approval Workflow feature and allow multiple users to approve or deny an application from a centralized location.
What’s Approval Workflow?
This feature gives users in your Formstack Forms account the ability to approve, deny, or comment on form submissions. It’s a great way to weed out the submissions that don’t need to be stored in your account. You can set up single- or multi-step approvals, and you can even review submissions via email.
Students who participate in work/study programs need to apply for approved on- and off-campus jobs. Use an online form to centralize this information. Create a seamless hand-off by using Data Routing. For example, if a student chooses a position in the bookstore, you can direct the application to the bookstore hiring manager. Once student workers are in place, create an evaluation form that allows employers to submit evaluations.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals
Students who need to make an appeal for denial of financial aid must fill out forms and attach appropriate documentation. With Formstack Forms, students can upload documents to support their appeals and sign electronically, using their finger or a mouse. This helps students get answers faster without compromising sensitive documents.
Even with a great FAQ section on your website, financial aid offices will be inundated with questions. After all, everyone’s circumstances are unique, and students can be intimidated by applying for aid. Allow students and parents to ask questions with a click. By using a Formstack contact form, all inquiries are stored in one place for easy response. Drop-down options can help people ask more specific questions.
Part 4: Formstack Forms for Admissions
A strong first impression is essential in university admissions. Students and parents are an eager audience, and accurate management of their information helps your school stand out among the competition. Prompt attention, correct information, and a welcoming attitude communicate the university’s commitment to a prospective student’s experience. Check out how Formstack can help overhaul your admissions process to make it an excellent experience for prospective students and parents.
One of the most important functions of your website is capturing leads. Whether they are prospective, current, or transfer students—or even parents or guidance counselors—your online contact form needs to be quick while getting the information you need. But don’t forget backend data too. How many unique users view your form? Is there a bottleneck that causes potential contacts to give up before hitting submit? Formstack allows you to analyze this information and more, helping you make changes to retain as much interest as possible.
Recruit from Anywhere
College students are extremely mobile—your recruitment strategy must be too. Enjoy the freedom of walking around a college fair, recruitment event, or campus tour with Offline Forms, designed to be used without an internet connection. Using the Formstack Go mobile app, your team can pull up the correct forms, collect information, and sync submitted data immediately, saving you time and treating prospective students to a seamless, unified experience.
Did You Know? A 2017 Social Admissions Report found that 63% of students use social media to research colleges, and 60% have followed or liked a college they are considering. Use an online form to quickly gather inquiries from prospective students on Twitter or Facebook.
Create Buzz with Social Media
Social media contests and giveaways are a great way to get prospective students talking about your university. Too often, though, the leads generated on social media are not nurtured. By using Formstack Forms to manage your contest, you can collect important data from your entrants and generate qualified leads. This means you can increase your exposure online and build up your contact lists at the same time.
Know Your Audience
Each audience you interact with has unique needs and interests. Customize your communication with Data Routing. Depending on how individuals respond, you can redirect them to certain people in admissions. For example, if a student selects that he is a transfer student, his form can be sent to the staff person in charge of transfers. When inquiries come from different parts of the country or state, Smart Routing can send automatic notification emails to regional recruiters.
Schedule Campus Visits and Tours
Use Formstack to help schedule campus visits and tours. Then, your admissions office can immediately know how many admitted students, prospective students, or parents are coming to campus, and tailor tours to their needs. Conditional Logic allows you to show or hide questions based on students’ responses. So if they choose a tour on a Monday, you can display which times are offered. Then, set up the form to automatically notify the appropriate tour guides.
Use Case: University of Nevada, Reno
As the only Tier 1 university in the state, the University of Nevada, Reno needed a way to easily and securely collect incoming student data at scale. It chose Formstack’s branded web forms to collect, share, and automatically integrate admissions data, resulting in a 45% increase in campus visits and a nearly 70% lift in enrollment. Now, the office of admissions is better equipped to handle the 31,000 submissions it receives each year.
Ready the Full Story >>
If students need to submit applications for admission, Formstack Forms eliminates the need for mailed paper applications. Create a form that can be customized: include a file upload for essays, short and long answers, and more. The applications will be sent immediately to whomever you designate, allowing admissions to move more quickly.
Then, take action on the data you capture with Formstack Documents, allowing you to automatically transfer the information into professionally designed applications, acceptance letters, loan documents, and more—without manually reentering it. Your documents can then be electronically signed or even sent to third-party apps like your CRM through ultimate accuracy across systems.
Part 5: Formstack Forms for Alumni Services
Maintaining relationships with alumni helps establish a strong network that grows your university. Loyalty is powerful, but it must be nurtured. Taking care of alumni means more than just asking for donations. The alumni office fosters a give-and-take relationship that helps alumni remember their time at school with fondness (and hopefully dollars). Formstack makes connecting with former students a painless process.
Up-to-Date Alumni Information
A database is only as good as its information. Young alumni move around frequently, and your alumni office must be able to keep in touch. Formstack integrates with popular email marketing and CRM software, which makes updating a breeze. Just add an “update your information” section on your website or social media page that links right to a Formstack form.
Did You Know? 55% of millennials prefer to give online. Use an online form to quickly collect donations from young alumni.
Create forms so alumni can join your alumni association, sign up for events, or even apply to start a new chapter. With Formstack Forms Analytics, you can view users’ geographical location, unique submissions, and more.
If your alumni sponsor individual scholarships, you can use Formstack to facilitate the process. Centralized data collection makes record-keeping easy, and Data Routing allows you to notify a specific donor of an application to his or her scholarship.
Networking with Current Students and Alumni
Your alumni network is a powerful one. The more robust it is, the more attractive it will be to young alumni to get connected and, eventually, give generously. Do your alumni prefer in-person social events or online networking? Do you have alumni who are willing to meet with small groups of current students or recent graduates? Do your alumni prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to connect with you? Formstack allows you to create surveys and registrations for events, which you can use on your website or through email, to determine what your network needs to be more effective and connect with them regularly.
If you don’t already have a way for alumni to give online, Formstack integrates with popular payment processors to make it easy. With a couple of clicks, the donations will come pouring in! You can include a link in emails to subtly encourage donations whenever alumni are exposed to communication from your alumni office.
Formstack's simple online form builder, Formstack Forms, can help you improve communications and streamline data collection at your college or university. We offer powerful features to help you engage with your digital audience and capture more responses.
To learn more about Formstack's workplace productivity software and how it can improve higher education digital communications, visit https://www.formstack.com/industry/higher-education.