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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What do you think of status pages?

I've been in meetings about the new SIS (student information system) that will go live in a year or two (the most successful implementations happen after planning periods this long or longer). The application status feature is a little different from the one we use now, but similar to one used by one of our graduate schools. Each student logs into their account and sees a "To Do" list on the side of the page. The list includes items from admission, financial aid, and other offices. Once a student submits something from the list, the item disappears.

The staff from the grad school that uses a similar list said that they had to change it because it actually increased calls to their office. Students saw something come off their list or saw a "No items on your to do list" and called to check up on the message!

The ensuing discussion got me thinking about status pages in general. When I applied to college, I put all my credentials in a large envelope and mailed it off. I'm not even sure letters of receipt were mailed back then (this wasn't the dark ages, but it was before everyone had the internet). Between mailing the application and receiving a decision letter in April, there was literally no communication from the admission offices. We didn't worry...we just assumed that the schools would call if something was wrong.

Even with a status page these days, some people feel compelled to check and double check (and sometimes triple check) their application status by phone. If anything, the process is more streamlined because so many components arrive electronically and can't get lost in the mail.

What do you think? Are status pages good? How often to you check your status? Are you checking it now, even though you know decisions are still a few weeks away? Why do you think people are more worried these days?