If you're considering the purchase of a new K12 online school registration system, you're probably experiencing problems with your current system.
The purpose of this article is to address, with full disclosure, the five most common problems associated with K12 online registration systems… but we won't leave you there. We'll also discuss the causes of these problems and how you can avoid them. In the spirit of full disclosure, you can prevent these problems by identifying the right issues and asking the right questions.
At FinalForms, we are passionate about best practices in data management. In fact, it is our mission to empower educators with the answers and data they need in real-time. Oftentimes, the 4,500 schools that rely on our team see us as a trusted resource more than just a vendor. Don’t just take it from us, listen to our customers talk about FinalForms.
With that being said, we’ve gained a deep understanding of what works and what doesn't when it comes to K12 online registration systems. We share this information with you in hopes that you'll never end up dealing with these issues, or you can pivot quickly should they arise.
The most common online school registration problems (and solutions!):
- Lack of Support
- Parent Satisfaction
Problem #1: Lack of Support
Online school registration systems are the norm nowadays. Every online registration provider offers a variety of features to help schools simplify the process of registration. However, the problem is this: at some point, you’re going to need answers or help.
The reality is that some companies slack on support and assign articles and issues to your school's staff members. If your school's staff members are not well versed in the nuances of the system, or you have staff turnover, then registration may come to a grinding halt at critical times.
What's the solution?
Bottom line, if you’re not receiving first-class customer service, it’s time to look around. The only way to reduce the stress of using an online system that doesn’t provide you with the answers you need to support your students is to make a decision to change.
Benefits of a support team:
A reliable support team knows the system inside and out. A team of in-house, fully-dedicated professionals should provide prompt solutions to your questions and concerns so you can get students enrolled, cleared to participate, and on with their day!
PROBLEM: Lack of support
SOLUTION: Find a trusted platform that offers 24/7/365 support
Problem #2: Customization
Forms are the funnel for the lifeblood of schools: data. In general, forms include contact information, emergency medical information, policies, and handbooks just to name a few. In addition, the best online registration system may include custom-built state, district, and department forms.
So what does it all mean? There are a lot of forms! Here’s the good and bad news about online forms…
- The bad news: Online forms must still be completed and signed.
- The good news: The best custom-built solutions retain data from season-to-season, year-to-year, and share data within families… making it easier for everyone involved.
What are the issues with form customization?
Customization is critical to streamlining processes, eliminating duplication, and satisfying parents. Interestingly, some online systems are not all-encompassing and may require some work on paper. Furthermore, some systems are not open 24/7/365 and lock parents out of forms after a registration period; this means you’ll be receiving calls and notes for student information and data updates throughout the year.
What's the solution?
Find an 24/7/365 K12 online school registration system that offers 100% custom forms as well as easy, snapshot upload capabilities. The right system is designed to collect, verify, and distribute information to the right hands at the right time, in real-time. Systems are also sophisticated enough to be open through the entire school year, allowing parents to make critical updates, such as medical diagnosis reports, any time.
SOLUTION: Ensure your registration system is a) custom-built for your needs b) open 24/7/365 c) a data delivery machine.
Problem #3: Parent Satisfaction
If you talk to enough parents, you'll probably come across some common questions and complaints about online registration. Having a user-friendly interface can be crucial in resolving these issues. So what should you look out for?
First, “Single Sign-On” or SSO is truly helpful. The parent may be able to use an existing account to login to the registration system, eliminating the needs for multiple accounts.
Next, eliminating every point of duplication is key. Parents are overwhelmed with requirements when it comes to registering their children for any activity, not just school. Systems that save data over time and share data within families are lifesavers for busy parents.
Finally, general ease-of-use paired with ADA-compliance and secure language translation are paramount when it comes to pleasing parents. Plus, you want to make it easy for students to get enrolled and involved.
PROBLEM: Parents are tough to satisfy
SOLUTION: Evaluate capabilities such as SSO, ADA-compliance, secure language translation and ease-of-use.
Problem #4: Cost
I bet you’re wondering how we could possibly afford the best online school registration system? In short, every budget is different and some solutions are designed to meet the needs of public and private, urban and rural, as well as large and small schools.
If you have read this far, you are probably interested in purchasing an online school registration system… and you know that saving time and reducing headaches is worth A LOT, right?
While cost is an important factor to consider, especially when pitching the idea to your stakeholders, it’s important to note the true value of a leading K12 online registration system.
Here’s a shortlist of value-added services included with leading K12 online registration systems:
- More cost-effective than hiring an employee (and cheaper than overtime!)
- Doesn’t require paying salary or benefits
- Automates alerts, reminders, and notices to staff and parents
- Simplifies administrator, teacher, and coach to parent and student communication
- Perfection is expected by parents, give them a leading system!
Fortunately, you are not the first school or district to have budget concerns. Here’s what we suggest: call customers who’ve switched to FinalForms and ask them about the cost versus the value.
SOLUTION: Prioritize your “value-added” needs
Problem #5: Data Security
Data security is an issue that you should be aware of when switching or choosing an online school registration system. You should look out for how data is collected, stored and accessed as well as what sort of security the platform has in place.
Some questions to consider:
- What data does the system collect?
- Is the data collected by, or relayed to, a third party?
- Can the data be monetized or sold?
The best registration systems are custom-built to only collect information authorized by the school. Beyond that, they are a dead end for data unless the school authorizes the transfer of data elsewhere, such as to the student information system, department of health, or department of education. It is our firm opinion that student data should never be monetized, parents should never receive ads, and all applicable student data privacy laws are followed.
In terms of security itself, ask about what measurements they are taking when it comes to data.
- Will any data be stored outside the United States?
- What, if any, data is collected by third parties (e.g., via cookies, plug-ins, ad networks, web beacons etc.)?
- Where will the information be stored and how is data "at rest" protected (i.e. data in the data center)?
- Does the provider perform regular penetration testing, vulnerability management, and intrusion prevention?
- Is all or some data at rest encrypted (e.g. just passwords, passwords and sensitive data, all data) and what encryption method is used?
- Does the provider comply with a security standard such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS)?
The provider should understand the legal and ethical issues surrounding data security. Have more questions about student data security, read our article “Think You Understand Student Data Security? Read This”.
PROBLEM: Data Security
SOLUTION: Invest in a platform that offers industry leading security who won’t sell your data!
It's not a coincidence that FinalForms provides solutions to the top 5 problems associated with K12 online school registration systems. Why?
- Our team includes former administrators, educators, and coaches
- We partner with leading Superintendent, Athletic Director, and High School Athletic Associations
- We are “school people”. We’ve felt the pain points and we’re dedicated to elevating education beyond those pain points!
You want to make a decision that will stand the test of time by choosing a problem-free registration system, and it is our goal to make that a reality. To learn how FinalForms compares like “Oranges to Apples” to other K12 online student registration systems, schedule a demo.