Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A project nearly three years in the making launched on Saturday, April 28 to great fanfare. The old VCCS student admissions application process was so cumbersome and outdated that a report revealed that each academic year, more than 10,000 prospective students begin our online application but never complete it. However, the newly launched, web-based VCCS Student Admissions Application reduces and streamlines questions, jargon and length; allows colleges to communicate more effectively with prospective students; increases the number of students who complete the application and ultimately enroll in a VCCS college; and is customizable for each college, among other benefits.


The new student application is customizable to match each college’s brand logos and colors.

The new application takes advantage of new technology and functionality, such as mobile access, social media accounts, and targeted communications. Additional features that benefit both students and college admissions department include:

• Student checklist indicating completion progress and dashboard to manage applications
• Reporting features to filter and export prospect and applicant data
• Ability to customize communications for applicants at the college-level
• Automated staff workflows
• Customization to each college’s look and feel
• Document upload
• Integration with SIS
• Student help desk support
• Prospect management system with dashboard, communication logs, inquiry cards, and automated process options
• Fully accessible, ADA-compliant, and auto-adjustment for slower connection speeds
• Identity verification
• Communication through preferred email, text messaging, and more
• Social Media Account Sign-in/Apply

The colleges provided several rounds of feedback, and a two-month user testing process was completed and hundreds of fixes, enhancements, and edits made prior to launch. College admissions, recruitment, administrators, and advising staff received training in-person, at all-day trainings and via webinars. Additional enhancements and features to the application will be rolled out over the next two years.

According to Heather Sorrell, VCCS’s director of student support services, the previous application was “based on college needs at the time, such as data collection and back-end processing of an ever-growing student population. College needs today are fundamentally different in focus. For example, the previous system provided no follow-up or communication features for colleges to contact prospective or recent applicants. It also generated negative feedback from students, faculty, presidents, legislators, and even the Secretary of Education, who viewed it as an access barrier to our colleges. We knew change was needed.”

A taskforce of research, counseling, student services, marketing, academics, and IT staff from around the VCCS collaborated to identify the issues and create a solution. “Throughout the process,” said Van Wilson, associate vice chancellor for student experience and strategic initiatives, “this team was guided by a simple but critical principle: ‘Does this help the student?’ I am so proud of this extraordinary team whose insights, ideas, passion and delivery were invaluable.”

Click here to visit the VCCS application or view it on your own college’s website.

• Fall 2015-Summer 2016
o Taskforce of A&R, Counseling, Student Services, Marketing, Academics, and IT staff from VCCS colleges conducted an in-depth review of the current application
o College goals and requirements, combined with limitations of the current application, resulted in a recommendation for a new application system
• Fall 2016
o EPIC funding process
o RFP process based on taskforce-set business requirements and feedback
• Spring 2017
o RFP released and vendor chosen by small college-staffed taskforce
o Final EPIC approval given
• May 2017
o Contract signed with vendor, XAP
• June 2017
o Preliminary work started
• July – Dec 2017
o College-staffed taskforce worked through questions, content, and design while gathering feedback from colleges
• Nov – Feb 2018
o PeopleSoft Integration and development design
• March – April 2018
o College staff training, testing, and feedback
o College supplemental form finalizations
o Marketing, enhancements rollout, and college set-up
o Launch on April 28, 2018
• May – August 2018
o Continue post-implementation support & college staff training
• May – ongoing contract
o Roadmap enhancements, training, and modifications as needed'

Laura Osberger

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