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Insights from EdTech and Pancakes: How to navigate the complex world of university admissions

Jan 15, 2024 | EdTech

In today’s rapidly evolving educational sector, university admissions teams face a multitude of challenges, striving to navigate an increasingly complex environment. As the demand for higher education rises globally, these teams are under immense pressure to manage growing applicant volumes, diverse student profiles and intricate administrative processes.

This complexity is further amplified by the advent of digital transformation, pushing institutions towards more efficient and technology-driven solutions to streamline the admissions process.

Having been at the forefront of many EdTech reforms, Märt Aro emphasizes how simplicity through technological innovation impacts the educational industry and strengthens collaboration among teams.

This article explores the insights gained from Märt Aro, an education innovator featured on EdTech and Pancakes, DreamApply’s podcast about paradigm shifts in education. Märt has been at the forefront of many EdTech reforms, having co-founded 5 NGOs  and 4 companies for education development. In the first 3 episodes of EdTech and Pankacakes, we sat down with Märt to discuss Scaling success in higher education, How to foster innovation in EdTech and Why admissions teams struggle.

Given his broad experience in facilitating innovation in EdTech, Märt reflects on how both government entities, NGOs and startups seek to tackle similar problems. While all these mediums have their unique strengths, it’s often challenging for governments and NGOs to come up with minimum viable products and gather feedback for a fast progression to solutions.

How did a transition from an NGO to an EdTech organization working with and for educational institutions help write DreamApply’s success story?  

Märt shares how DreamApply originally started as an NGO in 2011 with a mission to help Estonian universities attract more international students and simplify the study abroad application process. He says it became obvious to the 3 co-founders quite early that it’s rather challenging to come up with scalable and sustainable solutions as an NGO, which prompted a more technological journey.

In less than 15 years, DreamApply has become a success story for over 300 educational institutions across 40 countries. Märt attributes this success to the technological innovations that were designed to bring simplicity to the complex procedures of educational institutions.

What role does collaboration with clients play in DreamApply’s success story? 

Märt mentions that the best feedback he’s witnessed is about how the DreamApply software helps different university teams respect each other and collaborate more intelligently, underscoring the need for any EdTech innovation to stay human-oriented.

Märt shares that many of the most successful solutions have been co-created with client universities, highlighting another aspect of hacking innovation in EdTech – proactively leveraging user-generated feedback.

Aro identifies several challenges that admissions teams commonly face that require scalable technological solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, and consequently progressive results in student enrollment. 

Navigating the surge in university applications

Universities grapple with an ever-increasing pool of applicants. This surge requires robust systems to manage and process applications efficiently to ensure the selection of the most suitable candidates. For example, interviewing all candidates has become impossible for most admission teams, so there is a need for a scalable solution that isn’t at the expense of sacrificing the authenticity of interviews.

Embracing global diversity in admissions

The diversity in educational and demographic backgrounds has never been more evident, requiring a system that can handle varied processes and regulations. For example, universities must comply with unique visa requirements and admission deadlines, based on the applicants’ citizenship. Additionally, this requires a tailored approach in terms of scoring and personalized communication to avoid losing valuable applicants.

Advancing technological integration in admissions

Transitioning from traditional, often paper-based systems to more modern digital solutions is crucial for today’s educational institutions. The need to analyze documents, review their authenticity and keep track of internal notes can be a daunting task, often leading to a pile of papers a few meters long, which overwhelms the admissions teams.

Enhancing communication and cross-departmental collaboration

To comply with multiple regulations and accomplish diverse targets set by university leadership, admissions teams need to collaborate with many other departments, despite their already overwhelming core responsibilities. Without proper tools, this leads to inefficiencies in coordination and decreased productivity.

EdTech and Pancakes, brought to you by DreamApply, is a podcast about paradigm shifts in education

To learn more about these and other topics, click here and listen to the full episodes of EdTech and Pancakes with Märt Aro.

DreamApply software ensures a smooth admissions experience through customizable features and integrations, reducing application processing time by 40%. 

DreamApply software confronts the challenges of admissions teams, reducing application processing time by 40%. With evidence-based solutions tailored to simplify these complex processes, universities can now effectively adapt to the ever-changing educational landscape. Below are a few examples.

Scaling application management with software

DreamApply software serves as a single hub for managing, evaluating, ranking and sharing online applications, creating a smooth admissions experience. The automation and scoring allow for faster processing and ranking of applicants, reducing the application processing time by 40%.

For example, with one of the user-requested solutions, the video interviews feature, DreamApply empowers universities to maintain complete control of the interview process. They can determine the amount and content of premeditated questions as well as which programs the questions are assigned to. Thus, interviewing is scaled without sacrificing the authenticity of the process.

Strategically addressing diversity in admissions

In addressing the challenges of diversity and globalization, DreamApply equips institutions with the flexibility to customize their admissions processes. As an example, Yamanashi Gakuin University leveraged this feature to great effect, efficiently processing the applications of 80 to 90% of their international students, who presented a wide variety of visa requirements and educational backgrounds.

The university’s admissions team says: “It has made applying for visas much easier. For the visa section, before, we used to email different forms to students to fill out after they gained admission, and now, everything takes place through DreamApply. Students use DreamApply from filling out their admission application to applying for their visa to Japan”.

Leveraging technological integrations

DreamApply’s solutions extend beyond simplifying the admissions process. By integrating with commonly used systems, DreamApply demonstrates its commitment to technological synergy. For example, the integration with Flywire was notably beneficial for SRH Universities in Germany.

The adoption of Flywire within the DreamApply environment enabled students to securely pay application or tuition fees with a single click, eliminating concerns about bank charges or missed deadlines. For SRH staff, this meant automatic reconciliation of payments, real-time tracking against student accounts and significant time savings in manual processing.

Do more with DreamApply integrations

About DreamApply

Founded in 2011 in Estonia, DreamApply is an innovation-driven EdTech organization improving access to education around the globe. DreamApply’s application management software helps more than 300 educational institutions across 40 countries improve admissions, marketing, scholarship management and other internal processes.

DreamApply’s easy-to-use and customizable software increases student enrollment by 30% and reduces application processing time by 40%. With features designed with and for educational institutions, and integrations with commonly used systems, DreamApply empowers teams to get more done with less effort.

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Please get in touch with the respective universities directly if you are a student/applicant. You will get no reply from us.

DreamApply is a software company that provides universities with a student admission management system. 

We wish you good luck with your applications!