Western Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies

Admissions - Annual Changes 2014/2015

The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies aims to coordinate the annual gathering of feedback from the graduate community for the purposes of the continual improvement of our admissions system.  This feedback will be gathered from stakeholders each year, analyzed and prioritized based on both the importance of the change and the amount of work required facilitating this change.

The following details the work done in the 2014 assessment of the admissions system.

Gathering Feedback

Stakeholders Status

Date

Comments

SGPS Admissions Team

Completed

April 8-10

Admissions team brainstorms changes/improvements (via card method) and generates list of potential changes 

Grad Assistants

Completed

March 17-21

Four sessions of registered workshops where grad assistants were welcomed to provide feedback on their experiences

Graduate Chairs/Associate Deans

Completed

April 14 – 30

SGPS attended various faculty gatherings to provide summary of year in admissions and gather feedback

Applicants

Released

October 1 

Survey of applicants to be created to gauge satisfaction levels and determine opportunities for change

SGPS

Completed

April 10

Invited all SGPS staff and faculty to attend discussions and determine what business needs can be addressed

Proposed Internal Changes

References

Status

Date

Comments

Send reference reminder to applicant

Complete

October 7

Two weeks after initial request a reminder email will be issued to the applicant informing them that a given reference has yet to respond to a particular request.  The email must contain the referee’s email address and suggest that the applicant review the email address and consider connecting with the reference if this has not already taken place.

Update the Reference Received Communication to Inform Applicants that the results of the Reference must be posted to PeopleSoft

Complete

October 7

Update to be made to the communication confirming receipt of a given reference that these results are loaded weekdays into the application system.

Ensure All Characters are filtered properly from GEARS into Student Center

Complete

October 1

Some special characters are arriving in the reference record in PeopleSoft with an improper recognition.  We need to review and act on any characters that this is still occurring with.  French was impacted greatly by this trouble.

Update the Program/Plan Table in GEARS when these values change in the application

On-going

N/A

Reference system needs to assess changes to the academic program information associated with an applicant in order to ensure that referee gets the correct form if this information changes

Assess Whether an Applicant applying to two or More Programs ask the same reference questions

Delayed

TBD

If this situation arises only send one request to each unique referee and copy the appropriate results for output into PeopleSoft.

Fees

Investigate the possibility of collecting application fee through other acceptable channels

Completed

September 1

Money order/bank draft must be issued from Canadian Banking institution.  Website updated to reflect this.  Update to application information to follow.

    Annual Changes Ticket #2210 (WISG) Oct 2014 Release

    New User Registration

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Ask for Email Address Twice

     

    Complete

    October 2

    For the two portions of the application where email addresses are collected (Profile Creation and References) require the applicant to enter these values in twice and validate that these values match. 

    Ensure Only Permissible ASCII Characters are Saved into Email Address Fields

    Complete

    October 2

    Many users have entered “,” or other invalid characters into the email address fields when completing an application.  Check for inappropriate characters prior to saving.  (also required in reference page). 

    Program Selection

    A Different Deadline for International Applicants

    Complete

    October 2

    The program setup table contains an application deadline that prohibits the start of an application after a certain date.  We are looking to extend this service to distinguish between international and domestic/permanent residents.  This additional deadline would exist in the setup tables alongside the existing deadline setup. 

    Academic Load

    Complete

    October 2

    The program setup table must be updated to allow a program/plan a part-time and a full-time option which will then be presented to the applicant. 

    Education History

    Improve Results of School Lookup

     

    Complete

    October 2

    Refine External Org view to include ONLY post-secondary institutions.

    Current set up has Organization Type (EXT_ORGSCHL_VW.EXT_ORG_TYPE) = SCHL  Update the search record to exclude the following School Types (EXT_ORGSCHL_VW.LS_SCHOOL_TYPE)

    HS, FSS, OTH, TEA, SLV.

    References

    Applicant Can Update Referee Data after Submission

     

    Complete

    October 2

    After an application is submitted an applicant can only view it.  There is a need for the applicant to be able to update their referee information.  This would update the reference view and existing GEARS functionality could then act upon these changes.

    Allow User to Define Reference Type

    Complete

    October 2

    Where programs set a reference type of “Any” in the program setup table the applicant should be required to select whether the reference is either Academic or Professional in the type field when entering their reference information on the Reference page.

    Messaging/Navigation

    Update to Welcome Messages after Application Started

    Complete

    October 2

    The welcome message presented to applicants after selecting a program/plan/term places information provided by SGPS atop the program messages.  We would like to reverse this order and place the program messages first when the page is viewed.

    Program/Plan-Specific Messaging

     

    Complete

    October 2

    Programs wish to include specific information concerning various elements of the application experience.  We are looking to install a variable message item on particular pages of the application that can be customized to meet the demands of the particular program/plan being applied to. 

    Improve Look and Feel of Application Experience

    Complete

    October 2

    Some users encountered difficulties navigating basic PeopleSoft features like the magnifying glass to view potential response values in the Supplemental Questions area and the +/- signs in the References section.  Can we look to replace magnifying glass functionality with a simple drop-down of potential responses? Change +/- to Add and Remove buttons throughout the application.

    Supplemental Documents

    Clarify Error Message for applicants regarding the upload of Supporting Documents

     

    Complete

    October 2

    Applicants are currently presented with a standard error message that does not specify all potential problems with a supporting document (e.g. file size, type).  We wish to update this error message to be clearer with applicants.  Message 27300,28.  Add “Please ensure that your document is a .pdf  and the file size is less than 3000kb (3mb). File names should not contain non-alphanumeric characters.”

    Permit only PDF Files as Supplemental Documents

    Complete

    October 2

    We would like to update the permissible documents uploaded by the applicant to only PDF files.  Change this sentence in message 27300,10 from “Any document you choose to submit must be uploaded as a .pdf or .doc file and the file size must be less than 3000kb (3mb).” To “Any document you choose to submit must be uploaded as a .pdf file and the file size must be less than 3000kb (3mb).”

    Ensure Supplemental Documents are reviewed by Applicants

     

    Complete

    October 2

    Given the high volume of poorly formatted documents we would like to display the document uploaded by the applicant and have them confirm that it is correctly formatted.  Displays the document after it is uploaded and add radio buttons for the applicant to indicate that the document is OK.  If they select No – delete the document and allow the applicant to resubmit it.

    Annual Changes Ticket #3034 (WISG) March 2015 Release

    Summary Report

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Provide one complete PDF including all attachments 

    Complete

    March 16

    Allow users to create summaries consisting of the entire application alongside attachments in a single PDF generated by selecting the "View All" button.

    Update the content of the Summary Report

    Complete

    March 16

    Include all email addresses provided by the applicant and first language reported.

    Application Transactions

    Greater Detail in the Application Transaction Pages

    Complete

    March 16

    Users can now view the following additional information in the Application Transaction Pages:
    - Email Address
    - Citizenship
    - First Language
    - Supplemental Questions
    - References

    Improved Search Details in Application Transactions

    Complete

    March 16

    Users can now search for applications with the following search criteria:
    - Western Student Number
    - Academic Plan
    - Admit Term
    - Email Address

    Department Assessment

    PDF Department Offer Letters

     

    Complete

    March 16

    Program staff are now able to directly attach an offer letter PDF file alongside the SGPS offer letter for display to applicants upon offering admission. Previously programs had to physically copy or write the letter material into PeopleSoft before offering admission.

    Greater Detail in the Department Assessment Pages

     

    Complete

    March 16

    Users can now view the following information in the Department Assessment pages:
    - Email address
    - English language test scores (self-reported)

    Annual Changes Ticket #3035 (WISG) July 2015 Release

    Application Transactions

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Update comments field to be tied to user

     Complete

    July 19 

    Updated to create two unique fields - one for department and one for SGPS

    Department Assessment

    Create a Department Assessment specific comment field

    Complete 

     July 19

     

    Add the option to Waitlist applicants

    Complete 

     July 19

     

    Add the option to Deny or Withdraw submitted applications

     

    Complete

    July 19 

     

    Changes Awaiting Ticketing with WISG (Application Side)

    Personal Information

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Include Prefix/Title in Personal Information

     

     

    We would like to collect a prefix (e.g. Ms., Mrs., Mr.) in the Personal Information page using the delivered PS prefix table.

    Supplementary Questions

    Nested Question Sets in Supplementary Questions

     

     

    Currently the application only permits programs to ask direct questions followed by a response to that question.  We are interested in exploring the possibility of nested questions where the response to one question would trigger another question depending on the response.  This would require changes to the Supplemental Question setup page and the method by which these questions are delivered to applicants in the application.

    More Choice Options for Supplementary Questions

     

     

    Currently programs can define acceptable responses to the Supplementary Questions as either open field responses with a set character limit or a set of potential response values with only one choice being allowed.  Programs would like to add to these options the ability to select multiple answers from a list of available options and the ability to rank those potential responses.

    Navigation

    Make More of the Application Available at Start

     

     

    We currently limit the pages that a user has access to when starting an application.  We are interested in making all pages prior to the Payment page available to users at the time they start their application.

    Review Program/Plan Setup Elements each time the Applicant Visits a Page

     

     

    If any element in the setup of an application (including program/plan selected and setup elements) are changed during the course of the application the questions and documents required of the applicant do not update to reflect this change.  We would appreciate it if the application could review these selections each time the application is accessed and ensure the appropriate questions and documents are being asked for.

    Submit

    Email Applicants after Submitting Application

     

     

    Applicants do not currently receive a communication after submitting their application.  SGPS would like to add this confirmation in a template email with additional information about what to expect at this stage of the process.  A new template email would be created under Email Setup and sent to each applicant after their submission is successful.

    Changes Awaiting Ticketing with WISG (Assessment Side)

    Application Transactions

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Track the Reception of Hard Copy Documents

     

     

    SGPS would like an addition of the SGPS Assessment page of the Application Transactions component that allows the office to mark the reception of each document as it arrives in SGPS.  As each document is marked as received on this page the corresponding record is updated in External Education table with the following values:

    • Action – Received
    • Date Received – the current date
    • Transcript Type – Official
    • Data Source – Grad
    • Data Medium – Hard Copy

    As each document is flagged as received an email confirmation would be directed to the applicant informing them of what has been received and what is still outstanding.

     Once each of these required documents arrive the G6 condition would automatically be completed on the date the final missing transcript is received.

    Department Assessment

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Allow Departments to Customize Deny/Waitlist/Withdraw Email

     

     

    Some programs are not interested in making use of the direct communications with applicants that result from admission decisions unless a customization can be made to the message that is automatically sent to the applicant once this decision is entered.  The optimal solution would be to allow the email setup component to have a program/plan parameter that would permit the message to be program/plan specific where the setup component is active and the generic SGPS message when the program has no such customization.

    Mark File as Complete

     

     

    There is currently no method to inform users that an application is complete (application submitted with all references collected).  We would like to leverage the existing date-effective “Complete” flag in the application record to mark any file that has been submitted and references completed with this flag.  This flag could then be inserted into the Department Assessment component search criteria as a tool for department users to determine which applications are indeed ready for assessment.

    Flagging Application for Immediate Pre-Assessment

     

     

    Programs would like a method to flag submitted applications as priorities.  This flag could be set either in the Application Transactions component or the Department Assessment component.  When that application is submitted SGPS will know to assess that application before others for that program.  To do this a search criteria under Application Transactions must allow SGPS to search for these values when processing applications.

    Carry Department Assessment Status forward if Applicant if Program Action is updated by Program

     

     

     

    Currently the Department Assessment Status value is not carried forward if an applicant is admitted or denied.  Programs would like that value to carry forward as a new row is inserted.

    Include Program Details in RPD Status Email

     

     

    Allow graduate programs to have a standard message inserted into the RPD status email when it is sent to applicants.  At this stage of the process the work is handed off to the program so it makes sense to allow the program to define some expectations for the applicant from this point forward. 

    This detail could be keyed into the Program Setup component and called on with an insert tag in the RPD status email.

    Project-Sized Developments involving Admissions

    Improvements to Applicant Communication

    Status

    Date

    Comments

    Integration of Intelliresponse

     

     

    SGPS would like to redeploy Intelliresponse to assist applicants when completing an application.  A refined series of questions and answers should reduce the amount of direct communications SGPS receives from applicants and will support the application when the SGPS office is closed.

    Email Collection/Processing

     

     

    SGPS would like to evaluate the development of methodology to improve the ways which support collects and responds to email communications from applicants.

    Test Scores

    Automated Test Score Loading

     

     

    SGPS would like to load digital scores received from ETS (including TOEFL, IELTS, GRE) onto the person record of applicants.  We envision using the delivered test score loader.  We envision great possibilities surrounding the automation of the receipt of test scores.  However to access the tool we require PeopleSoft HE to be up-to-date and there is no current timetable to achieve this.

    Supervisor Integration

    Supervisor Integration

     

     

     

    SGPS would like to integrate membership data and availability to allow programs to display a listing of eligible supervisors who are available to take on new students as part of the application.

    Work Centers

    Faculty Work Center

     

     

     

    SGPS would like to develop work centers for SGPS, the graduate assistant role and the faculty advisor role to focus the necessary tasks required in assessing applications.

    Grad Assistant Work Center

     

     

    SGPS would like to develop work centers for SGPS, the graduate assistant role and the faculty advisor role to focus the necessary tasks required in assessing applications.

    New Application Evaluation Tool

    Grad Assistant Work Center

     

     

    SGPS met with Oracle and WISG to determine whether newly delivered assessment tool is suitable for application assessment in graduate community and how we could integrate the recent release at Western.  Great possibilities surrounding workflow and committee work.  However to access the tool we require PeopleSoft HE to be up-to-date and there is no current timetable to achieve this.