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UMBC Graduate School Makes Strides In Efficient Outreach

E-signatures Continue To Produce New Business Solutions

December 6, 2018 9:55 AM
The Graduate School at UMBC takes pride in providing opportunities for student success. Through collaboration with prestigious faculty and research with groundbreaking partner institutions, graduate students can achieve personal, professional, and academic excellence. In order to better serve students and the community, the graduate school provides numerous services and programs that support non-traditional students in reaching their goals.

The Golden ID Program waives the tuition costs of certain graduate programs for qualifying Maryland retirees who are at least 60 years of age. Whether degree seeking or not, Golden ID students can continue to enrich their lives with learning and development at little cost.

The Accelerated Graduate Program allows ambitious undergrads to double count a certain number of credits for both their bachelor’s and intended graduate degrees. By making their intentions known to both their undergraduate advisor and the appropriate graduate program director, accepted students can make an academic plan that jump-starts their collegiate career.

Both of these programs offer unique opportunities for qualifying individuals, but they generally require those individuals to discover and actively pursue those opportunities. Consequently, retirees who don’t know they could attend classes without paying tuition and undergrads who are too preoccupied with their current coursework can easily miss the chance to apply. That is why the Graduate School at UMBC is reexamining their business practices and adopting new tools and technology to widen their outreach to prospective students.

DocuSign, the e signature and digital workflow platform, has provided a unique solution. In addition to making traditionally paper forms much easier to fill out and process, DocuSign’s digital envelopes can be sent out automatically to potential applicants via secure email complete with personalized messages and direct access to the electronic form. Rather than depend on students or applicants eligible for the Golden ID program to research and initiate the process themselves, Grad School can instead approach them directly with everything they need.

Converting to a new business process has its difficulties. It is often an exercise in reexamining every aspect of the workflow and defining what is essential and where the inefficiencies occur. Operations manager Dan Neeley, M.S. ‘15 Human-Centered Computing, says that change management involves balancing the needs of both staff and students, managing the workflow and accountability of designated signers, and handling exceptions and possible points of failure.

Despite these challenges, Neeley acclaims the plentiful opportunities for improvements in sensible efficiency that come in return. Improving communications between UMBC and applicants to these valuable programs goes a long way in increasing student satisfaction and success.

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