Now that enrollment season is in full swing, universities are being inundated with student applications, financial aid requests, on-campus housing forms and more. Keeping pace with this deluge of paperwork can be a real challenge without the right document management solutions, as there's no telling when something may be lost in transit. While missing documents may be low-priority issues outside of higher education, such a scenario can be a major source of anxiety and frustration for students and administrators alike.

With university enrollment falling around 17.5 million students in the spring of 2019, according to research from the National Student Clearinghouse, there's a pressing need to streamline back-end operations and offer enrollees a more modern application experience. Currently, many higher ed institutions are in the process of transitioning away from traditional paper storage, but the implementation window for cloud-based management tools can be extensive without the right people, processes and tools in place.

Setting long-term integration goals
Every university has its own internal procedures for collecting, storing and managing student information, with many opting for a hybrid system to accommodate both paper and digital documents. Such an approach often forces faculty and administrators to switch between online and offline storage platforms, which can be time consuming and labor intensive. What's more, deploying an unoptimized document management solution can lead to a host of back-end inefficiencies that may make it harder to locate the exact information administrators are looking for, according to Business News Daily.  Instead of rushing through the implementation phase, universities should set short- and long-term goals that align with their core objectives.

Finding the right fit
One of the biggest challenges to moving toward paperless enrollment is the wide variety of document management platforms available in today's market. Rather than focusing on point solutions, college campuses may benefit from adopting a unified system that offers advanced customization features. This can not only keep all relevant information in one centralized and easy-to-access location, it can also simplify their FERPA, HIPAA, and other compliance initiatives. Ultimately, streamlining student enrollment starts with identifying how universities can operate more efficiently and securely without inconveniencing their incoming students.