Many schools all around the world host a wide range of afterschool programs that enrich their students. These programs greatly benefit the students and the community as a whole because they offer kids and teens an outlet in which to explore their interests and socialize.
As a school administrator, you likely already know how valuable these programs are and the impact they can have. However, you probably also know how difficult running these programs can be. To lighten the administrative burden of these programs, your school must devise an effective and efficient registration process. Afterschool program registration can quickly become too much to handle and programs—and administrative staff—can suffer because of this. Between incessant paperwork and an abundance of tedious tasks, your staff can easily be overwhelmed. As a result, your school needs to find a way to reduce the amount of time and effort that goes into afterschool program registration so you can focus on other tasks, such as fundraising for your school.
Your goal should be to provide excellent care to students after the school day ends, and enable them to engage in fun academic and extracurricular programs that they will be excited about. You should not be distracted or weighed down by tedious administrative tasks.
There are many ways to avoid undue stress over the registration process, like these simple and easy ideas:
- 1. Use a software platform to streamline registration.
- 2. Integrate your afterschool software with your Student Information System (SIS).
- 3. Perfect the registration process.
- 4. Host fundraisers to support your program.
If you follow these 4 tips, you will greatly benefit your school and make running your afterschool program much easier. Let’s get started!
1. Use a software platform to streamline registration.
Adopting a new school software platform is the most beneficial and easiest way to improve the administrative process behind your afterschool program. However, there are numerous school software platforms that boast their superiority and it can be difficult to know which platform would be best for your specific needs.
The importance of finding a software platform with valuable online registration features cannot be overlooked. Make sure your school software comes equipped with tools that will enable you to:
- Accept online registrations. Parents should be able to register their kids and teens online for your programs 24/7 because every parent runs on a different schedule. Because most people interact with the Internet on their mobile devices, your online registration software should be mobile-responsive.
- Keep students safe. In addition to prioritizing data security, your registration tool should also take measures to ensure children’s safety while actually attending the program. When registering students to programs, parents should provide photos and signatures to be used as verification for individuals authorized to pick up students from your program. This will not only make your registration process more effective but the added safety measures serve as an incentive for parents to join your programs and complete the registration process.
- Support families’ varying schedules. Not all families will become involved in your afterschool programs in the same way and your registration process should understand and accommodate this. Many parents work and have very demanding schedules—your registration software should be tailored to allow for parents to choose and change their schedule according to their individual needs for their child.
- Generate customizable reports. Your registration software should provide your administrative staff with pre-built report templates as well as an easy-to-use report building tool, just in case they want to design their own. From tracking student registration and attendance to reconciling bank statements and offering an audit for each transaction, your staff should have all the tools it needs to effectively manage registration.
- Manage waitlists. Why should your administrative staff spend time trying to adjust and update waitlists when your software can automatically execute these tasks?
To learn more about the key features to look for, check out this complete guide to afterschool program management software from CommunityPass.
These features will ensure your administrative team is never swamped by tasks related to registration. Instead, your staff can focus on planning and executing the programs themselves and ensuring the students keep wanting to come back.
2. Integrate your afterschool software with your Student Information System (SIS).
When you adopt new software to help manage one aspect of your school, there is often a lingering worry that it will not be compatible with your other technology. Make sure, no matter what afterschool registration software platform you adopt, that it is able to integrate seamlessly with your other software platforms.
One of the most important pieces of technology that your school employs is its Student Information System or SIS. This information management system will house and manage all of your student data from year to year. This data could include registration information, transcripts, students’ personal information, and any other data the school feels is necessary.
When your afterschool program management software integrates with your SIS, you will be able to more efficiently manage your registration process in the long-term.
Your administrative staff will be able to leverage the existing data in your Student Information System to better assist the registration process. This will help you know which students will likely be interested in the programs you are offering and which families you should reach out to register for programs.
This integration will also save your administrative team countless hours of laborious data entry. All data management will be streamlined by automating student file uploads. This will:
- Reduce the likelihood of human error in registration records.
- Enable students to be easily added mid-year and automatically removed upon leaving.
- Free up administrative staff to work on other tasks.
- Allow you to capture more data without increasing your workload.
Integrating these two important software platforms—your afterschool program registration software and your SIS—will greatly increase the efficiency of your registration process, effectively streamlining the entire operation.
3. Perfect the registration payment process.
Managing online registration for your afterschool program is undoubtedly tricky. One of the most important components of this is payment processing. When dealing with payments of any kind, there are innumerable things that can go wrong and which must be considered. With the right afterschool registration software, paying for programs and fees will be effortless.
The effectiveness of your afterschool payment software really depends on how well it can accept payments from a variety of sources. When adopting new school software, or upgrading from your current platform, you should look for these essential features:
- Integrated payment processing. Not all online payment processing solutions are created equal. Your payment processor should be able to accept payments in multiple tenders including all credit cards and e-Checks, approve voids, and give refunds. Don’t forget to find a platform that offers client support just in case there are any issues that you need to iron out.
- Automatic information updates. Adopt a system that corrects card information that is out-of-date or expired and replaces it with the new, valid information.
- Recurring secure payment collection. Typing in the same card information every time they want to register their kids for a program will discourage some parents from enrolling their kids in your programs. Make registration as easy as possible by allowing parents to store their card information securely in your school registration software. This feature also allows parents to automate their bill pay for any afterschool program you offer!
- PCI-compliant. This refers to the standard of security that all payment processors must meet. Make sure your software meets all of the requirements.
With a streamlined payment processing system that you can trust, parents will welcome the afterschool registration software with open arms and your staff will have to deal with fewer issues regarding payment every registration season.
4. Host fundraisers to promote and support your program.
Fundraising is an important part of any organization’s administrative duties, especially for schools, whose work is so integral to the community. Your fundraising efforts will serve two main purposes:
- To increase awareness for your programs effectively boosting registration.
- To raise funds for your programs.
Undertaking a fundraising campaign in addition to all of your other duties may seem intimidating, but when you have an afterschool program management software with fundraising capabilities, you will never feel overwhelmed as you raise money. Your registration process should be able to automatically prompt parents for donations during the registration process.
An automated donation prompt will remind donors that the good services that you provide need their help to be sustained. They will be able to easily make donations from the comfort of their own homes—and you’ll be able to track the funds you raise 24/7!
However, don’t underestimate the value of in-person fundraising events. These types of fundraisers can greatly increase your ability to appeal to your students and their parents. If they have fun at your fundraising event, they will be more likely to become more interested in your school’s programs.
Consider hosting a tried-and-true school fundraiser, such as a walk-a-thon, that will guarantee attendees have fun and engage directly with your school. Fundraisers show that you are dedicated to the success of your school programs, effectively demonstrating their value in your community even further.
Don’t let your administrative staff be defeated by tedious tasks such as managing registration. With the right tools and knowledge—and the right fundraisers to support your programs—you will be able to bypass the typical stress that accompanies the registration process.
This post was contributed by Joseph Oriente.
Joseph Oriente is the President and Founder of Capturepoint, creator of CommunityPass. Joe established Capturepoint in 1999 and launched CommunityPass in 2003, which was initially created to provide online registration and payment for a local town sports council that was overwhelmed with an increasing number of paper registrations. Since then Joe has been responsible for expanding CommunityPass nationally to become one of America’s most well-respected and complete online management solutions with registration, membership and facilities software serving the recreation and school markets.