Common Higher Education Data Collection Problems and How to Solve Them

Jan 16, 2020 | Tips and Best Practices

Colleges and universities are driven by data collection for admissions, recruitment, student success, events, academics, and so much more. But oftentimes, with so much data to collect, manage, and analyze, they face a series of problems that complicate the higher education data collection process.

In this blog, we’ll address four major data collection problems that many higher ed institutions run into, as well as some tips for how to solve them.

Paper overload

The problem

Many universities still use paper forms for administrative processes. Because of this, higher education data processing can be time-consuming for students and staff. If a student needs to fill out a paper form, they must first print the form, walk around campus to get the necessary signatures, then walk the form to another location on campus to submit.

Paper form processing is not only time consuming for students, but this outdated process also adds extra headache for administrative staff. With higher ed offices inundated with endless paper forms, it can become increasingly difficult for employees to sort, manage, and process all of this crucial student information. On top of all of that, colleges and universities must deal with paper and printing costs.

The solution

To fix the never-ending stream of paper throughout higher ed institutions, it’s a good idea to consider making a campus-wide switch to online forms. With the right software, your college or university can digitize all of this problematic paper processing while keeping it organized, safe, and simple.

For example, Western Connecticut State University recognized that their institution was experiencing paper overload. As the student population continued to grow, the workload kept piling up on staff. By making the switch to online forms, the university improved student satisfaction and reduced workload for administrative staff. The team at WCSU was able to save an estimated 1,600 hours on form processing by implementing just one online form process.

Burdensome manual data entry

The problem

Manual data entry is not only inefficient and stressful for collegiate staff, but it also creates extra room for human error. If staff members have to sort through and enter large amounts of higher education data by hand, it’s likely that this data won’t translate accurately 100% of the time. Inaccurate data results in complications and frustrations for students and staff alike.

The solution

To eliminate manual data entry, start using a web form and data collection platform that connects to your school’s CRM, like Maryville University did. Before they started using FormAssembly, staff at Maryville was spending too much time on manual data handling. This made it difficult for staff to communicate with students and solve basic requests.

“If you’re a prospective student and the university can’t get you to the right person, it can turn you off to the university,” said Brian Heger, Associate Director of Communications at Maryville University.

After the university implemented a web form system that connected to Salesforce, they were able to streamline data collection and eliminate the burden of manual data entry.

Outdated technology

The problem

All higher ed institutions work with large populations of students and families, and all of these people expect to be able to submit information to their school quickly and easily. With outdated technology, simple tasks can have an unnecessarily lengthy turnaround time. These inefficient processes can cause frustrations, while limiting student and staff experience.

The solution

Tech-savvy students expect their universities to stay up to date with the latest technology. Choosing a modern, advanced data collection method can open up new opportunities and make it easier for students and staff to work through tasks.

For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute upgraded their outdated technology when they started using smart web forms. This helps them work toward their main goal of creating a streamlined, consistent experience for all users, including staff, students, and their families. Now, processes like event registration, recruitment, and internal data submission are more efficient than ever.


With thousands of students to keep track of, higher education data collection can be complicated. But, these challenges can be solved by implementing an all-in-one web form builder and data collection platform like FormAssembly. Learn more about what FormAssembly can do for your college or university at Higher Ed Summit 2020!

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