Graduate Admissions Project

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Graduate Admissions Project
(GAP)

Departmental Info Session

March 2011

Background


McGill
receives approximately
14,000
applications to Graduate p
rograms each year.


A manual, paper
-
based process.


One of the top reasons (besides funding) that
applicants gave for not accepting McGill’s offer of
admission was because of the amount of time it
took to receive the offer.


Many
applicants
had received and accepted
offers
from other institutions by the time they receive
notification of their acceptance to McGill.

Goals of the project


To assess the current application and evaluation process
for Graduate
Admissions, focusing on:


the
student experience


availability
of
technologies
.


improving the information available to the decision makers



As
a result of our analysis recommend and implement
process changes
in accordance with “best
practices
”.



To move the current “paper
-
based” Graduate
Admissions Process to a
model
where information is
collected and stored electronically,
allowing access from
various points in the process workflow.


Analysis Phase

Benchmarking


Telephone interviews were done with
McGill’s peer institutions in Canada and
the US.


Questions during the interview centered
around the overall graduate admissions
process and a paperless process.


Those deemed highly efficient or with
similar technology were selected for site
visits.

Benchmarking Site Visits

Visits were made to the following
institutions:




Concordia University



University of Waterloo



University of Western Ontario



Arizona State University

Departmental Meetings


Information Sessions (Large Groups)


7 were scheduled covering all graduate departments


T
ook place between November 2009 and March 2010


GPCs and GPDs were invited


Information was given regarding the background and
goals of the project


Individual Department Meetings


Met with all 86 graduate departments


Meetings took place during the same time period as
the Information Sessions.


Purpose of the meetings was to gather information
about the admissions process of each department




Student Focus Groups


Three focus groups were held.


Groups were made up of a mixture of
recently admitted graduate students
(Masters, PhD, International, Domestic).


Students were asked their opinion of the
current graduate admissions process.

Quotes from Focus Groups


If the decision to attend McGill was made just on the
admissions process, I wouldn’t be here today!”


“At U of Michigan where I applied, there was no
comparison; everything was online, in PDF format you
can build your admissions portfolio/ change and edit
things right up until you pay. References are online
you just put in contact information.


“It would be nice to have the security to know that all
your documents have been received by the deadline.”

Results of Data Gathering


Benchmarking other universities:


More sophisticated, dynamic, visually appealing and technologically
advanced.



Graduate departments:



Current application is irrelevant; many don’t use the application as a
source of information, many ask applicants to fill out additional forms


Many bottlenecks that slow the process down were identified in the
current process.



Student Focus Groups:


Graduate applicants find application process confusing.


Clearer guidelines and more transparency would be appreciated by
applicant.


Improved communication and customer service were also important
factors to improving the student experience.


Admissions Process

Applicant

Department

GPS

Applicant fills out
online application
on Minerva

Applicant sends
supporting documents
to department

Department reviews
applicants

Recommend?

Graduate
Recommendation Form
(GRF) completed by
department on Banner

File reviewed for
completeness by
Admissions Officer

File Complete?

Student admitted; GRF
and Banner updated;
Admissions letter and
package sent

File reviewed by
Admissions Officer
for admissions
requirements

Meets
requirements?

Justification
Provided?

File given to GPS
Admission Committee
for final decision

File approved
by Admissions
Committee?

Student is refused

Yes

Paper applicant
file sent by
department to
GPS

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Current Admissions Process

Yes

Process Solution


Split the responsibility for the final admissions
decision between the departments and GPS


Maintain GPS oversight for certain types of files
that were identified during the analysis and
consultation


Give departments responsibility to process final
decisions for certain types of files


Introduce an in
-
system spot checking function
to ensure quality control standards are being
met within the departments

Departmental

Responsibility

All
Recommended
Canadian Masters
applicants with CGPA > 3.0

1576

Total

1576

43%

The departmental portion is made up entirely
of Canadian* applicants recommended for a
Masters program with a CGPA > 3.0

* Canadian applicant defined as an applicant who has
completed all of their university level degrees at a
Canadian university



Based on figures from the Fall 2010 admissions cycle

Breakdown of Departmentally Responsible Files

Breakdown of GPS Responsible Files

This portion represents recommended
PhD
applicants

24%

This portion represents applicants
recommended for a Qualifying Program

This portion represents applicants
recommended for Ad Hoc Masters programs
and masters programs where the CGPA < 3.0

This portion represents recommended
international applicants

26%

4%

3%

GPS Responsibility

All
recommended
PhD
applicants
(Int'l + Can)

844

All
recommended qualifying applicants

123

All Recommended Canadian
masters applicants
with CGPA < 3.0 or Ad Hoc
masters applicants

154

All
recommended
International
applicants
not
included above

953

Total

2072

Departmental Responsibility

1576

GPS:
57%

DEPT
: 43%

GPS Responsibility

2072



Based on figures from the Fall 2010 admissions cycle

Total Number Recommended

3648

File Responsibility Split

With the new model the departments
would have the autonomy to make final
decisions for 43% of the applicants who
are admitted.

Applicant

Department

GPS

Completes
Application

Uploads
Supporting
Documents

Calculates

GPA

Evaluates

Applicants

GPS Evaluation

File

Complete

Recommend?

Domestic
Applicant

Yes

Offer Letter

Received

Academic Review
of Applicant

Accept?

Provide Justification

Yes

New Admissions Process (Finalized)

Refusal Letter

Received

No

GPA >
3.0?

Masters
Applicant

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Refusal Sent

No

No

No

English
Req.
Met

No

Yes

Random spot checks
of applicants admitted
by departments

No

Accepte
d?

Yes

Solution

Deliverable


A dynamic online application platform


Departmental Self
-
service


Program specific questions


Program specific reference letters


Faculty/Department specific application deadlines


The collection and storage of electronic supporting
documentation


Electronic letters of reference


Paperless environment


Electronic evaluation and decision making


The ability to move applicant files via workflow


Better and more transparent information provided
to student about their application status



Application
Form

Referee
Module

Applicant
Portal

Program
Specific
Questions

New Look
and Feel

Smarter and
More
Dynamic

Customizable
by Dept.

Secure and
personalized

Completely

Electronic

Transparency
for the
Applicant

More user
friendly

Ability to
Upload
Documents

Publicly Accessible Systems

Admin
Module

CGPA
Calculator

Applicant
Evaluation
System

Department
Self Service

User
Management

Centralized
Admissions
Deadlines

System
Settings and
Controls

Application
Deadlines

Document
Checklist

Program
Specific
Questions

Administrative Systems

Electronic
Viewing of all
Applicant Files

Accessible from
anywhere

Evaluation and
Commenting
Done Online

Web Based
Calculator

Administered

Centrally

Integrated
with Banner
and CMS

GPA Calculator


New web based tool that will replace the
current Excel spread sheet.


Will automatically calculate the GPA to
McGill standard. Users will still need to
enter grading information from the
transcripts.


Initial version will be available in
September 2011 as the first deliverable of
GAP


Benefits to Departments


More control over online application settings (deadlines and
questions)


Faster applicant file completion time


Electronic documents uploaded directly from the applicant


No mail to open and sort


No paper to file and manage


Electronic file review


Files can be viewed by multiple staff members at the same time


Files can be viewed from anywhere


Collaboration between Departments and GPS quicker and
easier


The new admissions process gives more responsibility to
departments to admit graduate students without GPS
intervention

Initial

Prototype

Beta

Version

Final

Version

Jan

2011

Feb

2011

Mar

2011

Apr

2011

May

2011

June

2011

July

2011

Aug

2011

Sept

2011

Oct

2011

Nov

2011

Dec

2011

Jan

2012

Feb

2012

Mar

2012

Apr

2012

May

2012

Specs and

Documentation

Development
and testing

Final

Version

Drupal

Integrations

Development
of training
materials

Training

Training of
users

June, July, Aug

Summer

2012

Development of
structure to
support initiative
(Post Project)

Change Management

Sept

2012

GO LIVE

Sept 2012

Organizational
Development/
Implementation
of the Change
Initiative

Questions?