Hugging Trees Fast Becoming New Mantra for College Students

October 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Front Page, Sustainability, U.S., Youth

Getting into college is easier — and greener — than ever with online applications. Photo: © Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.com

Getting into college is easier — and greener — than ever with online applications. Photo: © Andres Rodriguez - Fotolia.com

Institutions of higher learning have always been a hotbed of cutting edge technology, social progression, and political involvement. Students are classic early adopters, and constantly challenge traditional thinking and processes. In response to the encouragement of campus environmental organizations, more and more universities are starting to see the world through green-colored glasses and finding more ways to conserve resources.

In fact, 4,100 institutions of higher learning have LEED-certified buildings, to total a whopping 240,000 buildings nationwide, according to the United States Green Building Council. Countless other schools are feverishly adopting wind towers, sustainability goals, and recycling programs. And the latest group jumping on the green bandwagon? Admissions departments.

With new software and technology , admissions departments are not only able to be more green, they’re able to save some serious green for colleges and universities. Today, they can virtually eliminate the mountains of paperwork and official correspondence used to attract new recruits and keep current ones.

It’s called Enrollment Management Technology (EMT) software. A Cincinnati-based company, Hobsons, develops EMT software programs specifically to address the unique challenges facing education administrators. Hobsons is leading admissions departments nationwide down the green/green path through its time- and resource-saving management services.

Saving Paper by the Ton

“A typical college application file can be 20 to 30 pages long and include letters of recommendation, transcripts, essays, and test scores,” Hobsons EMT vice president of engineering Gus Costa said. “In 2008 alone, we processed almost two million online applications, eliminating the need to generate 60 to 90 million sheets — the equivalent of one million pounds — of paper.”

Students can apply to multiple=

Students can apply to multiple colleges at one time through a simple, online process. Photo: © Shannon Drawe - Fotolia.com

In addition to saving enough sheets of paper to match the height of the Empire State Building 200 times over, these tools have proven to be a significant time saver as well. Green Mountain College in southern Vermont, best known for its eco-friendly programming, signed with Hobsons for their paperless enrollment capabilities and found it also improved efficiency within the admissions department.

“We estimate our EMT services save us 20 hours a week between various members of our staff,” assistant director of admissions Allison Stacey said. “Inquiry replies and follow-ups are automated, saving us valuable time and enabling us to focus on prospecting and student retention.”

Steve Syverson, vice president of enrollment at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, echoes Stacey’s enthusiasm for electronically submitted applications. A high percentage of the 2,500 applications they received last year were paperless.

“Not only do electronic applications allow us to reduce the labor costs associated with maintaining physical files, we will avoid using over 30,000 pieces of paper,” Syverson said.

Making Life Easier

Students are noticing a difference as well. Cory Weeks, a freshman at Indiana University, applied to 11 schools during his senior year of high school using an online program that enables prospective students to apply to several universities in a single application. “The process of applying online was so much easier than I’d expected,” he said. “In fact, many universities encouraged online application by waiving the submission fee.”

Hobsons-EMT-logoAnd, despite the name, EMT software doesn’t stop at the application level. Peterson added, “Throughout a student’s academic career, they will receive customized, consistent communication from the university, which is distributed seamlessly and effortlessly through the EMT service.”

Peterson added that there are other services included with an EMT package which flag students at-risk of dropping out, in order to provide more immediate faculty attention and improve graduation rates.

Think it’s hard to go green? It’s time to go back to school.

Allison Brinkman

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)