Effective Practices : Enrollment
Enrollment Section 5
1. Is there a single individual in your school responsible for ensuring that student and family records are properly established when a student first joins the school? State the individual’s title and describe his or her responsibilities relative to the registration process.
2. What are the specific items the person responsible for registration (registrar) ensures are placed in each student’s file at the time of registration? Does this individual also have responsibility for maintaining student files with copies of reports, immunization records, etc.? What additional records are added to the student file on an ongoing basis?
3. How does the registrar interact with the school business office?
4. If you have a registrar, to whom does he/she report?
5. How does the registrar interact with the Enrollment Director?
6. Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies and practices in the area of registration.
7. What is particularly effective in your work with registration? Why?
8. If you could change any aspect of your Registration practices, what would you change and why?
Is there a single individual in your school responsible for ensuring that student and family records are properly established when a student first joins the school? State the individual’s title and describe his or her responsibilities relative to the registration process.
The responsibility for creating student files is generally handled by a single individual. In most large schools someone in addition to the Enrollment Director handles this task, usually with the title of Registrar (See: Position Description - Registrar). Smaller schools usually consider this type of file creation and maintenance to be an additional responsibility of the Enrollment Director. However, even in smaller schools the Enrollment Director is able to call on the school secretary or administrative assistant for support in creating and maintaining the student files.
In some cases the work of the Registrar is split between two people. For example one school reported that the Registrar was responsible for establishing student files for grades 1-12 while the office manager created all files for the early childhood area. In this case the work was split due to the specific requirements related to licensing in the early childhood area and to prevent the task from becoming an overwhelming workload for just one person. Split responsibility also occurred in one school where the high school was at a separate physical location from the rest of the school. It was also noted that even in cases where the high school is at the same physical location as the grade school the files are usually turned over to a high school administrator for ongoing maintenance such as the addition of grade reports and creation of transcripts. It is clear that the preference is to consolidate the registration tasks in one individual, but that workload or specialized requirements sometimes dictate dividing this responsibility between two individuals.
The responsibility of the Registrar is to ensure that the school receives all required forms and documentation prior to the student’s enrollment at the school.
Billing files and related financial information are maintained in separate files and handled by an individual in the school Business Office.
What are the specific items the person responsible for registration (registrar) ensures are placed in each student’s file at the time of registration? Does this individual also have responsibility for maintaining student files with copies of reports, immunization records, etc.? What additional records are added to the student file on an ongoing basis?
The specific forms that must be included in a new student’s file vary according to grade, as the requirements are different for students in the Early Childhood program, the lower grades and the high school. At the time of registration typical documents for inclusion are the emergency card and consent to treatment form, an immunization record or waiver of immunization, a health exam or waiver of health exam, a copy of the student’s birth certificate, transcripts from previous schools, recommendation letters, the application, and a copy of the contract. If the student has submitted copies of any educational or psychological testing these are included as well.
It is typically the registrar who has responsibility for maintaining student files on an ongoing basis, with exceptions as noted in ENR 5-1 above. Ongoing additions to the file include student reports, any special letters between the teacher/school and the parent relative to the child’s performance or behavior, disciplinary notes, the results of standardized testing such as the PSAT, and updated immunization records.
How does the registrar interact with the school business office?
The registrar is the official point of record for enrollments and withdrawals from the school. In this capacity she notifies the business office of start and withdrawal dates. Contract copies (or originals depending on school practice) and payment checks are forwarded to the Business Office. She also forwards payments for the Parent/Child program and helps in calculating refunds for that program. The registrar is also the person who handles changes of address and other similar information, making corrections to the school database and notifying other offices as appropriate.
If you have a registrar, to whom does he/she report?
The Registrar reports to the Administrator.
How does the registrar interact with the Enrollment Director?
The registrar works closely with the Enrollment Director. Some of their work together is coordinating the status of new, re-enrolling and withdrawing students. They share information about families that may not return, and act as partners in planning how various classes might be filled. The Registrar notifies the Enrollment Director of any requests for transcripts, as this is an early indicator that a family is considering withdrawing from the school. The Registrar frequently is called on to help the Enrollment Director with outreach events, and often takes inquiry calls when the Enrollment Director is away on vacation. She may also help plan the calendar of events for the year, including the Walks through the Grades and Open Houses. The Registrar also works with the Enrollment director to ensure that all paperwork for foreign exchange students is properly handled.
Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies and practices in the area of registration.
Establish a detailed process that has specific deadlines and manage each of those deadlines very closely. This is an area that benefits from a great deal of scrutiny; delivering the budget depends on knowing who is enrolled.
Be proactive. Call and notify people before deadlines pass so there are no surprises for the school or the parents. Treat the deadlines as though they are real. “If the registrar doesn’t act like these deadlines are important, no one else will either!”
Be clear as to who is managing the registration process and who is executing each of the steps. The school needs clear guidelines about which position is responsible for each area of record set up and maintenance. This helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, that no work is duplicated, and that all paperwork is handled properly and completely.
It is helpful to have a separate Enrollment Director and Registrar. These two positions require very different skill sets, and a separation allows each person to really focus on the tasks that are most important to her area of responsibility.
Clarity and precision are important. Work to help parents know what is needed so a complicated process seems straightforward. A simple checklist can be very helpful here.
Follow up must be exemplary and consistency is very important. People don’t like to change, so things should be set up with clarity and high standards from the beginning.
It is helpful to use different colors for various forms to speed the handling of returned forms and the identification of items in a student’s file.
It can help to have a stamp that lists the various items that must be in a student’s file. This allows the file folder to be marked with the date an item is received and allows a quick visual reference for any items missing from the file.
Having one person to manage all the records minimizes the opportunity for things to fall between the cracks.
Be sure to include the front desk person in your planning and communication work. She often knows more about what’s happening in the school community than anyone else, and can be an invaluable resource.
Clear and consistent information flow is critical to the health of a school. This information flow is facilitated by accurate data on the school’s master file such as phone numbers, addresses, and emails. Good data management also facilitates analysis of enrollment and re-enrollment trends and other management reporting.
Documentation of the tasks done in the registrar’s office is very helpful. Many tasks are only done once a year, and it is helpful to have good documentation to serve as a reminder or to support personnel changes in this office.
What is particularly effective in your work with registration? Why?
The enrollment form has been developed over time to give the school the information that is needed in a user friendly fashion. One particularly effective practice is printing out a copy of all the information that the school carries on the student’s registration file (parents’ names, phone numbers, emergency contact information, doctor’s names, etc.), including it with the re-enrollment packet and asking families to mark any changes or additions. This saves parents from having to rewrite information they have provided to the school in the past, and saves the registrar from having to look up every data point to see if it has changed and requires updating. New data is easily identifiable and quickly corrected on the master file.
The registrar produces enrollment and re-enrollment tracking reports. They are well designed and are used consistently throughout the school to keep everyone’s consciousness on these important topics.
The systems are well organized. Some items are entered in both the business office system and the registrar’s system. These duplicate entries are minimal, but carefully chosen to be an effective double check.
All paperwork is sent in a timely way, and a checklist of all forms was created so that parents can easily keep track of a paperwork intensive process.
A sticker is placed on each immunization card indicating which portion should be completed by the parent and which by the school registrar. This prevents parents from completing the form incorrectly.
A full size return envelope is sent with the enrollment material to facilitate its return to the school.
A special stamp is placed on the outside of re-enrollment packets indicating what’s inside and that the contents are time sensitive. This helps parents to respond promptly and not assume the letter is general correspondence from the school which can be read at a later time.
The key is timeliness, keeping it simple, and following up.
The school’s follow through with “paperwork challenged” families is particularly good. It is important to strike the right balance between patience and firmness so that the school is supportive but also in compliance with all record keeping requirements.
The registration process is managed closely. The staff is very stable and has managed this process together several times. Nonetheless, the registration process is never accidental—it is planned, conscious, time consuming work that requires real teamwork.
If you could change any aspect of your Registration practices, what would you change and why?
It would be helpful to have more time to dedicate to the registration process during re-enrollment. There’s a real crunch at that time which can be hard to manage.
It would be interesting to explore on-line registration!
It can take a long time to set up medical appointments, and we should anticipate that reality when requesting updated medical forms. Information that will be required in September should be requested at the end of the prior school year so families have plenty of time to get doctor’s visits scheduled.
Every year the school has a new 8th grade teacher, and the school is always working to improve the timeliness of the first semester grade reports for 8th grade students as they prepare to transition to high school in another institution.
The most challenging task is to get all the paperwork in hand for new students joining the school. It’s important to draw a hard line here as it’s increasingly difficult to get forms once a student has started in the classroom.
It’s difficult to get enough quiet, focused time on projects that require a fair amount of attention to detail.