Manual or Online Student Registrations: Which is Safest?

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


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. 

An online student registrations solution entirely prevents the common errors that come with manual registration.

Still happy with your school’s manual registration process? Let’s take a look at the five most common errors that are non-existent when using a digital system. 

#1 Important form fields are left blank.

Usually, parents receive a hefty paper packet full of forms to fill out with information that helps them keep track and take care of a student. 

When parents fill this kind of information out on paper, it is very common for blanks to go unfilled, either because the parent is resistant to answer or because human error permits them to skip over a question.

When filling out the information online, parents can’t move to the next set of questions without answering absolutely everything the school considers necessary. It also prevents them from entering data in an unacceptable format. 

Online student registrations ensure that the data flowing into the SIS is clean and complete.

#2 Illegible handwriting causes all kinds of issues.

Everybody’s handwriting is different, and what is legible to one person is not always legible to the next. 

Once a parent finishes filling out the paper forms, they hand the packet over to a registrar or secretary; it’s these staff members who manually enter the data into the SIS. This situation creates two big problems: data errors and over-extended resources.

Manual Data Errors

Did you know the average manual data entry error rate for humans is 1%? That means that 1 out of every 100 entries is inaccurate. That’s a lot of errors. 

A digital registration platform eliminates this step of the process. The data flows directly from the forms and, after being approved by the school, transfers straight into the SIS.

Over-Extended Resources

Let’s say your paper registration packet is only ten pages long, and you have 500 students in one school. You still depend on your staff to manually enter 5,000 pages of information AND decipher 500 different kinds of handwriting. That’s a big ask.

An online student registrations form means no more translating parents’ handwriting and no misspellings in the data as a result. It also saves hours and hours of time and redundant effort for the staff.

# 3 Inconsistent data formats lead to costly mistakes.

Think about how many ways one can write a street address or a phone number. Is it Holly Street or Holly St.? Is the phone number 5557873421 or (555)-787-3421?

People relay data in many different ways. With a digital registration process, the input of data is regulated based on the administrator’s preference.

The data relating to each student can be managed on a grand scale to make sure that the data is logged and stored in the most consistent manner possible, preventing problems you might not expect like: 

  • Mailing addresses issues
  • Incorrect contact information
  • Inaccurate student transportation information

For example, you may think you notified every parent of a child who lives on Main St. about a situation on their children’s bus route. But if one student has their data logged differently (ex. Main Street), their parents may fail to be informed. 

An online student registrations solution ensures that everything from important notices arrives at your home or that your child rides the correct bus to and from school.

#4 Paper is vulnerable and unsafe.

Paper is an incredibly vulnerable substance; it can burn, tear, or crumple. Paper turns to mush during a flood and is easily stolen or misplaced. School systems that rely on paper files lack a back-up plan in the case of a fire or flood; the data is destroyed.

A Case Against Paper Student Records

A high school in Houston fell under fire for failing to provide student records that proved the former students had been enrolled in their school, reported 

When the Texas Education Agency investigated Forest Brook High School, the school was also found to have student enrollment files that were completely illegible, and some students even had two completely different transcripts with varying information.

The TEA noted that one of the issues behind the inaccurate and poorly maintained records is the recent floods that have swept through the city, which may have destroyed many of the missing documents.

Natural disasters happen, but the threat of being handled by humans is a much more common issue and can even be more detrimental to school security.

Electronic files ensure… 

  • Safety in case of tragedies or computer malfunctions;
  • Protection of student data;
  • Forms and data are always in the correct place and easily accessible.

On Protected Data

An online registration tool offers password protection and data encryption, so student information is available to the parents and the appropriate members of the staff while securing it against privacy invasion. 

When your data is protected, you avoid infractions from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which mandates that schools must keep a complete, organized file for every child and protect it against privacy breaches.

#5 You are missing critical documents like birth certificates and vaccination records.

Many documents are submitted to enroll a child for school in school; birth certificates, social security cards, proof of residence, vaccination and allergy records, and other documentation are the parent’s responsibility to provide for the school. 

Neglecting to bring one of the documents to the scheduled registration appointment means they have to schedule another time to come in and complete the process.

With an online solution, each of these documents can be scanned by the parents on their own time. When uploaded, the materials distribute automatically to the appropriate departments within the school. 

While some schools still require an actual appointment with the parents at the end of their digital registration process, this step could theoretically dissolve.

Still have to make follow-up appointments? The online registration process provides a way for parents to submit necessary documentation before the appointment date. 

Portions of this post were written by Matt Newman and originally published on this blog. You can view the original post here.

About Registration Gateway

The only true paperless solution of its kind, Registration Gateway’s online student registrations solution streamlines enrollment, re-enrollment and information tracking into a simple, intuitive process.

By digitizing and automatically integrating data into existing student information systems, Registration Gateway saves money, increases compliance, mitigates legal and disaster risk and creates new funding opportunities. To read more, click here.

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