'You got in!': Admitted Clarkies get the good news via interactive site

When Carly Simon sang about “anticipation” she could well have been referring to the college-acceptance process. In years past, a prospective student typically held vigil for months, waiting for the letter from the college of choice to arrive (a thick envelope usually signaled good news, because it included backup materials for the admitted). Once the letter hit the mailbox, it was eagerly torn open and the contents greeted with celebration or disappointment.

That’s so old-school.

Clark’s new admitted-students website offers students, including the newest Clarkies, a far more timely, not to mention interactive, experience. Created through a software program called Slate, the site not only notifies members of the Class of 2016 that they’ve been accepted, but it links them to a student-produced video bearing the congratulatory message: “You got in!” An accepted student can also create electronic “postcards” to send to family and friends informing them of the happy news.

The Admissions Office began processing applications using Slate in October and students had access to a page where they could track their application process. In December, admitted students were also given access to an admitted-student community site, which allows students to create social media profiles, participate in discussion boards, and begin connecting with fellow members of their class well before they arrive on campus.

The new system was much needed, according to Director of Admissions Theresa Malone, especially with regard to its ease of use. Admissions staff update students about the status of their submissions, and will contact a student if he or she has left something out of the application packet — a teacher reference, for instance.

The Slate technology not only enhances the accepted-student experience, it also allows the entire process to be conducted electronically. Everything from reviewing applications to making admit decisions to sending follow-up communications is handled online.

“Most schools take 12 to 18 months to go paperless. We made the decision to go paperless in August and started reviewing applications online in early November,” Malone said. She estimates more than 1,000 pounds of paper a year will be saved by conducting the admissions process with clicks rather than print.

Malone said the new site is also a valuable tool for data collection as well as for prospecting students who express an interest in Clark.

On Dec. 16, admission decisions were sent out to just over 1,000 students who applied under the Early Action deadline. An additional 3,000-plus applicants are expected to apply for regular decision and will receive their decisions in March.

“We could track when people opened the email, and within 45 minutes of sending, more than half had been opened,” Malone said. “The first deposit came in 20 minutes later. It was the fastest deposit we’ve ever had.

“I stayed in the office until 8 that night watching the numbers in real time. Seeing the immediacy of the replies was definitely different than putting an acceptance letter in the mail and waiting for a response.”

Malone described the process of choosing Slate as “exhaustive.” She said planning and launching the new site was a collaboration among the Admissions Office, Information Technology Services and the Marketing and Communications Department.