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Google Forms or Registration Software: Which is Right for K-12 Schools?

Offering online forms for K-12 registration is a no-brainer for a multitude of reasons: they eliminate paper, they save administrative time, and families prefer them too. But how do you choose the right registration software for your district?

If you’re considering online registration forms for your K-12 schools, you might be wondering if you can get away with using a free tool like Google Forms. The answer is: you probably can, but should you? 

The Google suite of free, cloud-based tools helps make our day-to-day easier in both our personal and professional lives.

Google Docs and Sheets allow multiple users to work in a document at the same time. Google Drive offers more storage than we’ll ever need. And Google Forms easily collects information in a survey format.

While Google docs and forms are simple to use and free, you also have the option of software built specifically for K-12 registration. Here are the top items to consider when deciding which is right for your district. 

Convenience

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Online registration forms are just plain convenient. Families can fill out and submit them whenever they want and anywhere there’s an internet connection. Your staff isn’t tasked with a mountain of paperwork to process and all the information is easily accessible in the cloud.

What happens next, however, is the difference.

With Google Forms, you import the data into a spreadsheet upon the completion of registration. Then you’re left with a humongous file that has to be manually imported into your SIS. This action leads to potential data entry errors and a lot of administrative hours (similar to the process if you used paper forms to start with). 

K-12 registration software automatically syncs with your SIS as forms are submitted, saving time and eliminating the potential for errors.

Features

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Google Forms helps collect basic information. It has an easy-to-use interface allowing you to create custom (but limited) fields and stores the collected data in a cloud-based spreadsheet, making it a great way to send a quick survey or plan an event.

For an intensive process like K-12 registration that has hundreds or thousands of submissions and large amounts of data, you might need a little more out of your tool.

Here is a list of features you gain by investing in an online registration software.

Payment Collection: Gather payments within registration, streamlining the process and improving your collection rate. 

Analytics: Dynamically create custom reports on submission data in real-time.

Custom Fields: Create registration fields customized for your K-12 school without limits on length.

Language Options: Offer the option for registration forms to be presented in multiple languages.

SIS Data Integration: Seamlessly integrate registration forms with your SIS so that data is automatically uploaded.

Notifications: Automatically notify returning students and families when it’s time for registration.

Cost

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Free is good. Everyone loves free stuff. Tools like Google Forms and Google Sheets are completely free and they work really, really well.

It can be difficult to imagine spending a portion of your budget on something that could be done for free. We get it. Plus, you can absolutely make K-12 registration work with Google Forms. 

Here’s the thing. How does the cost of K-12 registration software compare to weeks and weeks of administrative pay for manual data entry? Not to mention the other features you gain from a tool made for school registration like payment collection.

You’ve got options; weigh your costs to help decide what’s best for your district.

While paying for convenience (and a lot of other cool features) is an investment, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Right now, Registration Gateway is offering a Rapid Registration package, a turn-key solution that grows with your district. 

Security

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When gathering sensitive information about students, security is of the utmost importance. This is especially true with cyber attacks on K-12 schools more than doubling year over year

Data becomes vulnerable when it’s downloaded into an accessible spreadsheet and then changes hands for manual entry.

During the registration process, private student data and payment information are collected. This data should be treated exactly the way it is when it’s in your SIS: only accessible via single, permission-based logins and nestled safely behind firewall protection.

The bottom line is hosting an unprotected spreadsheet on a staff member’s computer with multiple hands manually inputting data is a security risk.

Using online registration forms with built-in security mitigates your risk and you can rest easy knowing all sensitive information is being automatically funneled into your secure SIS.

Support

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Gaining customer support is another huge benefit of a paid service over a free service in nearly all scenarios. Online registration software providers like Registration Gateway have a team of people who guide you through product onboarding. They then serve as your day-to-day contact thereafter. 

We never want to think about a scenario where technology goes terribly wrong at the worst possible moment, but it happens. When it does, having an account manager or customer support team to call makes all the difference. 

Free or Paid Registration Software: Choose Your Own Adventure!

Google Forms is a fantastic tool for gathering basic information such as names, email addresses and phone numbers.

The forms are super simple to create and use. They make collaboration easy and eliminate the need for paper forms. For use cases like volunteer forms or surveys, Google Forms might be your go-to option. 

On the other hand, online registration form tools like Registration Gateway come with a robust set of features specifically built to manage registration for K-12 schools.

Plus, you gain other benefits too like improving user experience, getting paid faster, streamlining administrative tasks in a centralized platform, and gaining insights from data in real-time. 

K-12 registration has a lot of moving parts, includes sensitive student information, and has the potential to be crazily time-consuming.

Selecting a solution that reduces administrative work and includes accessible support could make this the year for seamless and stress-free K-12 registration. 


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two hands typing on a computer with a green overlay online student registrations

Manual or Online Student Registrations: Which is Safest?

 

We know that safeguarding your students’ data is a high priority. From birth dates to phone numbers to home addresses and grades – student records are a treasure trove of sensitive information. But if your school or district still relies on manual processes over online student registrations, you are exposed to a gamut of risks. 

Switching to an online registration solution reduces risks like misplaced student files and data entry errors. It also helps both parents and staff make the registration process paperless, secure, and efficient.  Continue reading Manual or Online Student Registrations: Which is Safest?

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Manual Registration: The 5 Most Common Errors You Need to Fix Now

 

Switching from a manual registration process that’s paper-based to an online registration solution will mitigate risks like misplaced student files and data entry errors. A digital registration solution helps both parents and staff make the registration process paperless, secure, and efficient. Many industries have switched from analog to digital in order to save space and increase efficiency. Continue reading Manual Registration: The 5 Most Common Errors You Need to Fix Now

How digitizing student records generates high ROI

Going paperless and digitizing your school solutions will help your district save money in a number of ways, from reducing paper costs to enhancing staff productivity. With online solutions, your school district gets the most out of its funding for staff salaries. Your employees will have more time to focus on important tasks and spend less of their work days on tedious paper-based administrative processes.

Here are few ways your school’s return on investment will increase when you go paperless with online school software:

1. No more expensive paper costs
According to Edutopia, schools that eliminate paper-based processes can save up to $250,000 per year on printing and mailing supplies alone. Another factor to keep in mind is that leasing a high-quality printer can cost over $30,000 per year. If a smaller-sized school was to rely less on paper, printing and mailing to complete enrollment, scheduling and file sharing, it could save as much as $80,000 each year.

Digitizing your student records with a solution like SRC Solution’s Registration Gateway is a simple process, as all of the data will automatically be integrated into your existing student information systems.

2. Make the most of your team’s time
The average human data entry error rate is about 1 percent, according to recent research. This is an issue for many office environments, as 65 percent of U.S. organizations cite human error as the main cause of data problems. Automating processes such as enrollment, sending mail to parents’ addresses, and updating student documents reduces the likelihood of these common input errors. There’s no need to physically do tasks like transferring data from paper to online forms, a process that tends to open up more room for costly data entry errors. A lot of time and money is spent going through files to fix these mistakes.

Digitizing student records reduces the number of time-consuming paper-based tasks your staff must handle on a daily basis.Digitizing student records reduces the number of time-consuming paper-based tasks your staff must handle on a daily basis.

By automating workflows with features like online document sharing, you reduce the time usually dedicated to mailing student forms and allow the current employees to handle all of the school’s responsibilities rather than hire additional staff.

3. Increased compliance
With features like enhanced data and document permissions, digital solutions mitigate your schools’ risk of fines and penalties that result from failing to adhere to federal compliance standards like FERPA and NCLB. In fact, the Center on Education Policy reported that an estimated 48 percent of U.S. public schools did not make AYP (adequate yearly progress) as a part of NCLB in 2011. When schools fail to comply to NCLB and other federal standards, they put themselves at risk of losing government funding.

4. Eliminate costly address fraud
Throughout the U.S., many rural school districts have fraudulent addresses linked to up to 10 percent of their student populations. This ends up costing schools millions. For example, Fraud magazine explained that if only 1 percent of the 350,000 charter school students in the Washington D.C. district are illegally enrolled, unecessary costs could reach more than $5 million a year. Online solutions like the Address Purification Gateway automatically identify fraudulent addresses, saving schools millions.

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