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Choose the Best Class Registration Software: How to Compare Options
Choosing the best class registration software can quickly become overwhelming. You don’t just want the most popular solution or the one with the most bells and whistles. You want class registration software that fits the needs of your education program and your students. Ideally, it should make class registration simple and intuitive.
Obviously, we think CourseStorm is pretty great, and we’re always working to make it even better. But our goal is to help you find the class registration software that’s right for you. Whether you’re running the education department for a theater or the adult ed program for your region, you and your students deserve a system that works. That’s why we put together this cheat sheet to help you choose the best class registration software.
Advantages of a Student Registration System
If you’re still relying on calls and emails to enroll students, you might wonder if you need class registration software at all. Yes, this process is labor intensive, but it gets the job done, right? Maybe. But it also makes the job more difficult than it needs to be. Students and staff can get frustrated. Information can be lost. By contrast, the right software can help you create a coordinated student registration system.
The advantages of a student registration system include:
- Streamlined data collection – A system helps you collect all of the data you need without making the student enter or explain the same information multiple times. Once the student is in your system, they can easily register for more classes.
- Consistent processes – Students will be reassured that the process is the same every time. They know what to expect and so do your employees. Even if you have interns or staff turnover the system remains the same.
- Time saved – A streamlined and consistent process saves time for your staff. That means they can spend more time answering student questions and connecting with the community.
Can you create a student registration system without software? Yes, but it will take a lot more time and effort than just using an online system.
Now that you’re convinced you need class registration software, you’re probably wondering how to choose the best system for you.
Foundations of the Best Class Registration Software
We’ll start with the foundational factors that influence your class registration software decision. These should be your starting point. Anything that doesn’t meet your needs in all five of these areas should be eliminated from your search.
- Does It Fit Your Budget?
Pricing structures for online class registration software aren’t always transparent. Most charge a subscription fee. Many charge both a monthly fee and a per-transaction percentage. Only one that we know of charges only when you actually register a student (more on that later).
Don’t forget to check for add-on features that might incur an additional cost. Sometimes a low entry-level price can leave you without the features you need. Also check for one-time fees related to set up. And keep in mind that most software doesn’t have built-in payment processing. You’ll need a third-party service that will also charge a percentage.
- What Integrations Are Included?
You probably have other systems in place that your class registration software will need to integrate with. Check that the software you’re considering has the integrations you need. Will it work with tools like Zapier that create automation between web apps?
If you’re looking for a truly customized solution, you might need an API for your development team. Find out if the software you’re considering offers that functionality.
- Does It Meet Security Standards?
Handling student data is a huge responsibility. Make sure that your course registration software is PCI compliant and offers strong encryption both for information transmission and for credit card storage. Ask about backups and how privacy regulations are being upheld.
- Can You Get Support When You Need It?
There are few things more frustrating than a software problem. While the software you choose should be user-friendly, learning a new software can take time. Check customer satisfaction rates and ask current customers how they feel about the level of support. You deserve unlimited, sensational support every step of the way.
- What Features Are Included?
Every software you look at will come with a list of features. The length of the list isn’t important. What matters is whether those features match your needs. Once you get past the foundational features we’ve already talked about, we tend to divide features into two categories: essential and preferred.
Essential Features of the Best Class Registration Software
Essential features are the deal makers. Without them, class registration will remain unyielding and time consuming. Any class registration software you consider should have these four features to make registration convenient for your students and efficient for you.
- Mobile Friendly – Having a mobile site used to be a good idea. Now it’s essential. Google uses mobile-first indexing now, which means they focus on your mobile site when determining search engine ranking. If you’ve got SEO covered, you still need a mobile-friendly registration software because as many as 66% of site visits come from mobile devices. If you want to convert those visitors into students, you need to make mobile registration easy.
- Online Payment Processing – This is another essential of the modern world. Only 59% of people say they’ve written a check in the last six months. That means 41% of the population is likely to be inconvenienced if you make them pay that way. Cash isn’t much better, since it usually means you wait until the day of the class to get paid. Then someone has to be responsible for handling the money. More often than not, this task falls to an instructor who has a class to teach. Online payments are easier and more secure for everyone.
- Cart Shopping – A basic function of any online shopping site, there’s no excuse not to have a cart these days. Cart functionality allows your students to sign up for multiple classes at the same time without having to reenter the same information or make multiple transactions. It saves time and frustration, which leads to more registrations for your class.
- Clear Reporting – You want to know who signed up for what classes and how they paid. Are any payments overdue? How many people are on the waiting list for a particular class? Your course registration software should be able to give you that data and more. And it should be accessible in a useful format like a spreadsheet so reporting is simple and intuitive.
Preferred Features Worth Considering
Preferred features are nice to have, but may not be essential for every program. Before you choose class registration software, consider which of these features might make class enrollment even easier and more efficient for your students.
- Group Registration – Suppose a parent has three children who all want to take your pottery class. What if an entire youth group wants to sign up for your wreath-making class? Maybe a group of friends want to take Intro to Improv together. Have you made it easy for them to sign up? Group registration makes adding more students easy and efficient.
- Integrated Email Marketing – How are you staying in touch with students? Integrated email marketing lets you send an email to your entire student list or one class roster with just a few clicks. No need to export mailing lists or contact each student individually. It’s a great way to handle class communication or send personalized recommendations to students.
- Waiting Lists – What do students do if a class they want to sign up for is full? They might just give up or look elsewhere. Unless you have a waitlist. The value of a waitlist almost can’t be overstated. It’s an asset that improves your customer experience and opens a channel of communication between your program and a potential student.
- Customized Registration Forms – A standard registration form is, well, standard. But a customized registration form can make your registration process simpler and more efficient. It allows you to collect only the information you need and share documents like liability releases that might only be relevant to specific classes. Sure you could overwhelm students with a mile long registration form full of irrelevant questions, but why would you?
- Payment Plans – Payment plans make higher priced classes more affordable for students. It lets them space out the cost so you can break down the price objection barrier. But if you’re selling big-ticket courses you’ve probably felt the pain of manually tracking payments. Then there’s the time consuming labor of following up with each student individually to make sure payments are collected. The best class registration software will take all of that off your hands. You’ll be able to create individual payment plans and automatically charge the student’s card. That’s one less thing to think about.
Everyone likes getting what they prefer. That’s why we include all of these preferred features for every program that uses CourseStorm. You can turn some of them on and off, but all are available to you and your students.
Which Class Registration Software Is Right for You?
Now that you have the tools to assess all the different class registration systems out there, we hope you’ll put CourseStorm’s impossibly simple class registration software on your shortlist. We offer all of the foundational, essential and advantageous features you need to make class registration easy. Plus a built-in image library to make finding class photos a breeze, promo codes and unlisted classes to entice select students.
Our pricing structure is designed to help programs grow. There are no subscription fees and no contracts. Instead we take a small fee per transaction. That means we only make money when you register students.
Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.