A Modular Approach to Admissions

When starting out to build a next-generation admissions system for higher education, we had to make a foundational philosophical decision. Should we attempt to create a monolithic system that contains all the feature families needed across recruitment, selection, and conversion? We decided not to pursue this goal. While Microsoft and large companies of the past have been very successful creating software suites, the explosion of single-purpose software has continued gain popularity for it’s unique ability to provide great user experience.

In a recent interview with Ben Thomson, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield described this trend:

“…one of our background theses is the number of software product categories is going to continue to proliferate forever. No matter how much software you make and try to sell, you’re going to offer an ever-diminishing percentage of the total needs of your customer. We buy source control from GitHub, because they’re the best at that, and we buy ZenDesk, and we buy NetSuite, and WorkDay, etc. so we’re not going to increase our coverage and offer a bigger range of those. What we can do is be that connective issue through the organization…”

We share this belief and have written more about it in relationship to the challenges of CIOs on Medium here. The range of great software choices to help with various tasks has become so extensive that no monolithic system can compete on usability for all of the admissions various tasks. This is why we chose to build a more focused system with features unique to admissions, and then open up data integration with popular apps for everything else. This allows schools to create a modular IT ecosystem that can be easily changed every season.

For example, here is a suite of popular tools that we already see being used:

WordPress has also become so mature that it can meet most recruitment needs for websites, events, and other ad hoc content. Rather than try to recreate all of those features, we just decided to provide an integration platform that can easily build a unified contact record.

Our integration platform allows schools to use their favorite apps and build a unified contact record. Further, this strategy allows us to focus on feature development for the parts enrollment management that are truly unique, which we see as the workflow around the selection process and decision release.

Workflow is a confluence of people, process, and systems coming together in a certain way at certain times, driven by data. The admissions workflow is uniquely complex because of how it needs to weave together vast amounts of information, strict timelines, and the achievement of specific institutional goals. We are laser focused on getting that right.

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