Automating Class Enrollment – Comparing Google, Excel & CourseStorm

by Brian Rahill, CEO, CourseStorm

Whether you work for an adult education center or plan summer courses at a library, you know one thing for certain: course planning and management is challenging enough without having to juggle dozens of paper registration forms and spend hours entering data into a spreadsheet.

Automated enrollment streamlines the registration process, saving you time and reducing errors. Additionally, automated enrollment often increases enrollment by making the registration process easier for your students, who might pass on a class rather than mail in the registration form and payment. With the Millennial generation quickly becoming the average consumer, having the ability to register for classes, workshops or training seminars online is becoming increasingly more important.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the popular automated enrollment tools we find program managers are using.

Excel Surveys

Microsoft Excel offers a straightforward method for automating registration. Basically, organizations create a survey form with question fields. This survey is then shared with prospective students via a link. After attendees fill out and submit the form, the information automatically fills in an Excel spreadsheet.


  • Shareable link can be added to websites, sent out in email newsletters or shared on social sites.
  • Survey’s do not require having a website to take online registrations.
  • Can start taking registrations the same day the survey is created.
  • Question fields are customizable, making them useful for many different types of classes.
  • Each field in the spreadsheet corresponds to a field on the survey and can be used to sort the data in convenient ways.
  • Spreadsheets are in Excel Online, which means you can’t accidentally delete them.


  • Attendees can’t pay at registration; you have to find a completely separate system for payment.
  • If you want the information displayed in any other way (like charts), you have to know how to make them in Excel.
  • Excel Online is not as secure as some organizations require. If you require registrations to be HIPAA compliant, this is not a great option.
  • No access to support team for questions or support for fixing errors.
  • May not be a great experience on mobile devices, like smart phones or tablets.

Google Forms

Google Forms also uses a survey to populate a spreadsheet. However, Google Forms is somewhat smoother than Excel Surveys and has some added tools that make it easier to manage your registration information.


  • As with Excel Surveys, the survey fields are customizable.
  • Can start taking registrations the same day the form is created.
  • Surveys do not require a website to take online registrations.
  • Data can be viewed via charts and graphs (or spreadsheet) in real time. In other words, you don’t need the registration to end before you can review data.
  • Multiple people can collaborate on a single form and spreadsheet.
  • You won’t lose the data because it’s saved in in your Google Drive.
  • Your forms can be integrated with Paypal to take payments online.


  • Like Excel Online, the data is not secure. Google does make an effort to protect it, but their security and data sharing policies are generally not acceptable for storing sensitive data like student or patient records.
  • Taking payments requires a high level of technical expertise setup, and may require a monthly fee.
  • No access to support team for questions or support for fixing errors.

Resources to integrate Paypal with Google Forms:

Use Zapier to integrate Google Forms & Paypal

Use a Google Chrome plugin to accept payments on Google Forms


CourseStorm’s online class registration software is specifically designed to support education businesses with both registration and payment process in a single tool. It streamlines the way you handle registration by providing an easy-to-use, customizable, secure, and comprehensive registration and payment system.


  • Fast and easy setup allows you to start logging registrations within a day.
  • 3-click registration and payment from any device.
  • Fully customizable registration forms.
  • No technical expertise required to setup forms and payment.
  • Saved student data and credit cards for repeat registrations.
  • Secure and PCI compliant payment processing.
  • Payment plans for expensive courses.
  • Friends and family registration to register multiple people for a class at the same time.
  • HIPAA compliant.
  • Automatic waiting lists ensure classes stay full.
  • Integrated email marketing lets you communicate with students with one click.
  • Automatic notifications monitor class enrollment so you cancel fewer classes.
  • Friendly and helpful support staff.
  • No setup or monthly fees – just pay a small processing fee on credit card transactions, like you would with any other payment processor.


  • None

Of course we think there are no cons because we developed it! We would love the opportunity to show you how simple we’ve made course registration so that you can see for yourself if there are truly no cons.

Whatever method you choose, automating class enrollment offers a more convenient way for students to register, and it will save your staff a significant amount of time over managing paper forms. Students appreciate the easy process and take more classes, and your staff is free to focus on more important like growing your program. In fact, CourseStorm customers enjoy an average 18% increase in enrollment the first year, and 15% each consecutive year that they use our impossibly simple class registration software.

We hope this has helped you learn more about automating class enrollment and helps you feel confident about choosing a solution to best fit your organization’s needs.

Want to see first-hand how CourseStorm automates the registration and payment process? Schedule a demo, or contact us at to learn more.