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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

"View Decision" = Your File is Ready to Read in SIS

I've written about this a few times in blog posts and in my responses to comments, but I think I need to revisit this in depth.

The Student Information System has a built-in feature that adds a box at the bottom of your status page when your file is deemed complete and ready for us to read. 

Here's what it looks like:

The Short Explanation
If you see that box show up, it might cause a little excitement because "view decision" shows up in the box.  Alas, when you click on the words, you get a little message saying decisions aren't ready yet.  Because they aren't.

Early Action Notification = January 31st
Regular Decision Notification = April 1st
(any change will be announced on this blog)

We are just a few weeks into the EA process and there are somewhere around 15,000 applications to read.  Four weeks is not enough time for a thorough review. When we are done, we release all decisions without delay. It only takes a few hours for us to get the system ready to release decisions, so as soon as we know all decisions are finalized, we push them out. I always FLY to the computer to post the update when I get the word.

The Long Explanation
The long version is that student information systems are built by companies that are in the information management business.  The company that built the system that we use did a lot of things right. However, there are a couple things that those of us "on the ground" don't love and that is to be expected. 

The "view decision" box works for lots of admission situations (many undergraduate and graduate programs use a rolling notification).  It just doesn't work for schools that admit a class as a big group.  Our SIS does a lot of things really well, but this one feature doesn't work perfectly for us.

In our process, your file goes through many different statuses. Applications are submitted, incomplete, complete, ready to read, and then they move into the review pipeline. The colors and symbols you see reflect some of those statuses. Don't worry about them. Aside from submitting your credentials, there's nothing you can do to change the symbol. Once your file moves into the reading pipeline, it will go through many different rounds of review. That's why it takes three months to do this. We don't just read a file, throw a decision on it, and move on. We revisit files over and over again during the review process.

If the only thing left on your SIS to do list is the mid-year report, you are done for now. It's time to throw your focus back to school work and preparing for your Regular Decision deadlines. You can also start working with your parents on getting ready to file financial aid forms (the FAFSA comes out January 1 and the CSS Profile is already out). Or, you can take a nap.

I have a feeling that if you have an offer on the big day, you'll be pretty happy with SIS.  Without it, you'd be standing by the mailbox, waiting for the postal service to bring your decision the way I did a long time ago.