In the arts, it’s natural for academic programs to strive to transcend traditional metrics for admission such as GPA and test scores, and to incorporate application components which amplify a prospective student’s actual artistic capabilities. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that University of Miami’s Frost School of Music recently announced that it has adapted its admission requirements to allow high schoolers to decide if they would like to submit SAT or ACT scores with their auditions and portfolios.
But what specific tool is powerful enough to simplify the capturing of non-traditional application components?
The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music found their solution in Liaison’s SlideRoom, the comprehensive system for accepting and reviewing application forms, references, portfolios and payments in one secure location, streamlining the application and review process for everyone involved.
“As an administrator who manages process, I’ve been very happy with SlideRoom,” says the Frost School’s Director of Admission and Recruitment Karen Kerr, who was met with cassette tapes and DVDs when she assumed her position 13 years ago, but quickly decided to digitize the collection of multimedia application components. About six years later, the Frost School further elevated and modernized its application process by introducing SlideRoom.
For applicants, Kerr describes SlideRoom as “a very easy tool to use. It walks you through step by step, saying ‘here are the questions’ and ‘here’s where you upload your media.’ It’s very easy for an applicant to go online, answer a few questions and submit the application. There aren’t multiple steps they have to go through, everything’s very visible.”
On the administrator’s side, she says, “Going digital and having everything online really made a huge difference and made it easier for faculty to access materials if they were on the road going to a gig, or to a music convention. Everything is organized in a way through the queues that I can really easily manage who gets to see what.”
From the Frost School’s perspective, streamlining application processing goes beyond logistics. It also helps the school on the strategic front by supporting the adoption of a standard known as “holistic admissions” — a process which complements the evaluation of quantifiable academic metrics by looking at the admissions process in a new way, often featuring unconventional application requirements such as auditions or portfolios. In other words, it’s exactly what most arts programs are seeking to accomplish.
According to Kerr, SlideRoom helps advance the implementation of holistic admissions both by facilitating collaboration on application review and creating a smoother system for accepting multimedia application materials.
“Sometimes, multiple sets of faculty members need to review the same person’s application so that we can get more input about all the different aspects of what’s going on, and SlideRoom makes that easy to manage,” Kerr says. “It’s a one-stop shop and very accessible.”
How, more specifically, does SlideRoom work?
First, applicants are directed to a branded site, where they’re greeted with the school’s logo, colors and messaging. Applicants can preview all of a program’s application instructions and requirements before getting started.
On the institution’s side, programs create their own application and reference forms with SlideRoom’s drag and drop form builder. Live previews help programs compose questions, help text, question types and input requirements. Answers to application questions can be used to segment pools of applicants and control how data is exported.
Programs collect letters of reference directly from teachers, mentors and other third parties. When applicants make the request during the application process, an email is sent containing a summary of the situation and a link to a private portal for adding their feedback. References can be provided as plain text, PDF upload or an evaluation form.
Regarding multimedia materials, SlideRoom can accept images, audio, video and interactive content like 3D models and environments. SlideRoom also accepts embedded media from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud and SketchFab.
Finally, SlideRoom fosters collaborative decision-making by dynamically creating applicant segments and automatically assigning them to committees or individuals for review. Evaluation features include custom scorecards, tagging, commenting, highlighting and status flags.
The result is a win-win situation for applicants and administrators, says Kerr.
“It made applying so much easier and more accessible that it might have encouraged some students to apply because they saw how easy the process was,” she says. “You just go online and upload your videos. And since it facilitates the application review process so nicely, it did make it easier for us to go through and make decisions on students.”