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How the Right Enrollment Tool Can Save You Time and Effort

by Brian Rahill, CEO, CourseStorm

You wouldn’t use a hammer to try to cut a board. Instead, you’d reach for a saw because it’s the right tool for the job. The same is true when you’re registering students for classes. You need an enrollment tool that can get the job done. 

Some education providers reach for what’s familiar. They use Excel Surveys or Google Forms to gather information and populate spreadsheets. Those tools are fine if you have plenty of time and energy to spare. Just like a handsaw would be fine if you only had one board to cut. 

But if you need to work at volume, you can save time and effort by grabbing a power tool. Just as a circular saw can speed up your carpentry project, CourseStorm’s automated student registration software can streamline enrollments. 

What You Need From an Enrollment Tool

You need information to register a student for your class. Most education providers use some sort of form to collect that data. Once you have it, you need to transfer it to your database so you can manage classes and track attendance and payments. 

Your enrollment tool should include a registration form and payment processing to create a seamless experience for the student.

Speaking of payments, modern students expect to be able to register and pay entirely online. So your enrollment tool should include both a registration form and a payment processing tool. Ideally, those two are integrated to create a seamless experience for the student. 

Course management is challenging enough without having to juggle dozens of paper registration forms and spend hours entering data into a spreadsheet. You certainly don’t want to miss registrations because students have to mail in payment or turn a student away because they haven’t paid by the class date. 

While both Excel Surveys and Google Forms can help you collect information, they’re less helpful when it comes to payment processing. Let’s take a closer look at how these tools compare. 

Enrollment Tool Comparison Chart: Excel vs Google Forms vs CourseStorm

Excel Surveys as Enrollment Tools

Some organizations choose Excel Surveys because they’re already familiar with Excel and feel comfortable with the software. Plus, there’s no extra fee for Surveys if you already use Microsoft 365, which includes Excel. 

Basically, organizations create a survey form with question fields. They then share the link to the survey with prospective students. The information automatically fills an Excel spreadsheet as attendees fill out and submit the form.

This all sounds straightforward, but you run into problems when it comes to taking payment. There’s no integrated payment option. So you’ll need to send your students to a third-party site to finish registration, which means you may need to manually match registrations with payments. 

Healthcare organizations should be aware that Excel Surveys and Google Forms are not HIPAA compliant, whereas CourseStorm is.

The forms also aren’t very mobile friendly, which can disrupt the student experience. And be careful if you are a healthcare organization subject to HIPAA or other privacy standards. This method is not HIPAA compliant. 

Your ability to manipulate the data once you have it will depend on your level of skill with Excel. If you’re already an Excel pro, graphs and reporting might be easy. Everyone else will face a steep learning curve. 

Subscriptions to Microsoft 365 start at $8.25 per user per month; discounted plans are available for nonprofits

Google Forms for Enrollment

Google Forms is another solution you might choose because it’s familiar. Organizations that already use Google for internal email and word processing might try Google Forms for registration. The good news is that Google Forms is somewhat smoother than Excel Surveys and has some added tools that make it easier to manage your registration information.

You still get shareable links, customizable survey fields, and cloud storage. You can also view charts and graphs in real time without any special effort. 

Once again, payments are a challenge. You’ll need to link to a third-party payment service. This takes users away from your form and onto another website. 

Like Excel, Google is not automatically HIPAA compliant. Organizations that need this level of security may have some extra work to do (and money to spend) to abide by privacy regulations. Access to support is limited and mostly involves community message boards. 

Google Forms are part of the Google Workspace suite, which is free for nonprofits and individuals. For-profit businesses pay around $12 per month. 

CourseStorm, the Integrated Solution

CourseStorm’s online class registration software is specifically designed to support education businesses by combining registration and payment processes into a single tool. It streamlines the way you handle registration by providing an easy-to-use, customizable, secure, and comprehensive registration and payment system. CourseStorm’s software can integrate with your existing website and connect with Zapier to streamline automations. 

The fully customizable registration and payment forms are secure and HIPAA compliant. They keep all of a student’s information together, even offering group registration for families or friends taking classes together. 

Before CourseStorm, Westside Christian Academy spent 40+ hours manually pulling data and creating Excel spreadsheets for their summer camp registration.

Westside Christian Academy in Westlake, Ohio, chose CourseStorm to save them time with registration for their summer camps. Last year their executive director spent 40+ hours manually pulling data and creating Excel spreadsheets. She is thrilled to have CourseStorm to make the process easier. “It’s beautiful—it’s like it’s made for me!” she said.

You can share your registration form with parents or students as a link or embed it on your website. Plus, integrated email marketing lets you easily communicate with registrants. Both you and your students get automatic notifications about low and nearly full classes so you can cancel fewer classes. Automatic waiting lists help keep classes full. 

All that for no setup or monthly fees—just a small per-student registration fee. CourseStorm is easy to use, but if you do need help, our customer support team is here for you. 

Choose the Right Enrollment Tool

Whatever method you choose, automating class enrollment saves your staff time and effort. Students appreciate the easy process and take more classes, and your staff is free to focus on more important things, 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.

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

Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.