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3 ways colleges and universities create a better student experience with scheduling automation

Discover how colleges and universities use scheduling automation to support students and save time.

Rachel Burns

Rachel Burns
Jun 15, 2023

7 min read

3 ways colleges and universities create a better student experience with scheduling automation

Scheduling automation gives faculty and staff more time to focus on what matters most: Supporting students.

What does this look like in action?

  • Admissions teams simplify and speed up the admissions process, so more top applicants have the chance to interview and visit the school.

  • Advisors and professors stay in control of their calendars and make it easier to schedule one-on-one meetings and office hours, so they can help more students (with fewer no-shows).

  • Student services offer streamlined booking options, so students have easy access to the resources they need.

In this blog post, we’ll cover three ways colleges and universities are using higher education scheduling software for everything from admissions interviews to student health appointments.

1. Admissions: Speed up scheduling for interviews and campus visits

The student experience begins before the student ever sets foot on campus.

It should be simple for prospective students to connect with the admissions department and schedule interviews, but manual scheduling via back-and-forth emails are time-consuming and frustrating for students and staff alike. Schools with slow, inefficient admissions processes can miss out on top applicants.

Automating scheduling to recruit more top applicants

When she was the Assistant Director of Admissions at the College for Creative Studies (CCS), Brandi Keeler juggled meetings with prospective students, high school counselors, and alumni. She spent hours every day scheduling meetings via email.

Brandi is a self-described “productivity fanatic,” so she’s always looking for ways to automate the more tedious parts of her work. That’s how she found Calendly and started sending her scheduling link to students, counselors, and alumni. They could instantly book the best time for them, and Brandi could send automatic reminders and follow-ups to keep everyone on the same page.

After seeing her success, Brandi’s colleagues began using Calendly, too. Calendly’s Zoom integration makes it easy for the admissions team to connect with students remotely. “Before, there were just so many more steps. Now, it's seamless,” Brandi says.

CCS also connected Calendly with Google Calendar, Airtable, and Zapier. Here’s an example of how these tools can work together for admissions departments:

  1. An admissions counselor wants to schedule an interview with a promising prospective student, so the counselor sends the student their Calendly link or embeds their availability in an email.

  2. Calendly automatically checks the counselor’s availability on their connected Google Calendar, so the student only sees times when the counselor is free.

  3. The student chooses an interview time that works best for them.

  4. Calendly automatically puts the meeting on the advisor’s calendar.

  5. Calendly sends automatic text reminders to the prospective student, so they don’t miss their interview.

  6. The admissions department uses Airtable, a spreadsheet-database hybrid, to keep track of interviewees. With Zapier automation, a new record is created for the interviewee, including their name, interview time, contact information, and any other details the prospective student included when scheduling their interview.

Connecting Calendly with these other tools takes just a few clicks and keeps the interview process organized for the whole department. Automating scheduling gave the CCS admissions team time to meet more people, have better conversations, and recruit more top applicants than ever before.

I was able to have more quality interactions, which we know leads to conversion.

Testimonial author

Brandi Keeler

Assistant Director of Admissions at College for Creative Studies

Balance interviews across recruiters with round robin distribution

Another obstacle in the admissions process? Balancing interviews across all recruiters. A scheduling automation tool with round robin distribution lets you offer more availability to students while managing your team’s workload more effectively. Automatically distribute new meetings to team members, so no one has to spend time manually assigning them.

You can choose equal distribution, assign to the first available interviewer, or prioritize specific team members (like if you have a new admissions counselor who needs to build up their caseload).

Stylized screenshot showing a Round Robin set up distributing meetings to the next available admissions counselor.
Calendly's Round Robin scheduling feature automatically distributes meetings across your team based on your customized logic.

Make scheduling campus visits easy

Campus visits and orientation are another vital part of setting new students up for success. Students who have a great onboarding experience are 35x more likely to have a great overall university experience.

At Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), scheduling automation helps new students schedule campus visits in just a few clicks. Automated text and email reminders decrease the number of no-shows, so more students feel excited about, and prepared for, their new chapter.

Calendly changed the way we thought about new student orientation. It simplified how students could sign up for in-person campus visits and get to know their new school. And with the help of text reminders, we had a higher attendance rate.

Testimonial author

Corey Trader

Academic Advisor at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC)

2. Academic advising: Connect with more students (with fewer no-shows)

Professors, teaching assistants, and academic advisors all know the struggle of using email to find a time to meet with students. It’s a time-consuming process, and when many students don’t regularly check their emails, email-only scheduling can lead them to avoid meetings altogether. Open office hours are the traditional solution, but they can feel like a waste of time when no one shows up. 

Scheduling automation makes it simple for students to schedule appointments while letting faculty maintain control of their calendars.

Advisors at Dartmouth’s Undergraduate Dean’s Office serve over 4,400 students. With only 11 advisors, each one supports anywhere from 300 to 600 students. Trying to schedule meetings manually made it impossible to meet with every advisee.

Some students have a tendency to shy away from advising, and if the back-and-forth of appointment scheduling becomes too burdensome, there’s a risk we’ll lose students’ interest and they’ll never come visit, which could negatively affect their student experience.

Testimonial author

Brian Reed

Associate Dean at Dartmouth College

Now, Dartmouth uses scheduling automation to connect with more students while reducing admin work. Advisors share their unique Calendly scheduling links in their email signatures and all school-wide communications, so students can easily access advisors’ availability. The team also added Round Robin scheduling to maximize advisor availability and better serve students with general inquiries or time-sensitive issues.

During their first academic year of using Calendly, the Undergraduate Dean’s Office scheduled over 90% of their student meetings through Calendly — and more than 62% of those were meetings with repeat students. “Calendly is essential,” Brian says. “We could not see as many students without our scheduling links.”

DMACC saw similar results by automating scheduling for academic advising. Scheduling automation helps students not only meet with their advisors, but build an ongoing relationship with them. "We found over time that students like to be face to face,” says Corey Trader, Academic Advisor at DMACC. “They like a person, and they want that person to be their person."

Advisors can gather important information from students ahead of time by adding custom questions to the scheduling process, so advisors can come prepared and maximize their time with students. When your scheduling tool has routing functionality, that information can be used to instantly direct students to the right advisor’s booking page. For example, if a student indicates they’re in the English department, Calendly Routing can automatically take them to the booking page for the designated department advisor.

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Meet with multiple students at once

One-on-one meetings are great, but what about office hours and review sessions with multiple students? Calendly's team scheduling options make it easy for several people to meet with you at once. They give you the flexibility to offer multiple meeting time options, so students can get the help they need at a time that best fits their schedule and yours. Send out automatic reminders via email or text, so students don’t miss out on their time slot.

Stylized screenshot showing the booking page for an Office Hours Event in Calendly, where multiple students can sign up for the same time slot.
Use Calendly's team scheduling options to open up meeting times for multiple students.

To make student meetings easier, you can embed scheduling on your website page, or add your scheduling link to your syllabus or email signature. Scheduling tools that offer analytics can help you discover the most popular meeting times and adjust your office hours accordingly, so you’re available when students are most likely to want to meet.

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Learn how educators and faculty can increase student engagement, boost attendance, and streamline scheduling with Calendly.

3. Student services: Empower students to access the resources they need

The student experience goes beyond academics. Use automation to help students access the services and resources they need outside the classroom, from tutoring sessions to student wellness appointments.

The Student Wellness Center at Dartmouth (SWC) offers wellness check-ins that give students the chance to talk openly with a trained, non-judgmental listener. With Calendly, students can sign up for wellness check-ins right from the SWC website. They can select the first available provider or choose a specific staff member, and indicate whether they’d like to meet over Zoom or in person. Once they schedule an appointment, the SWC uses Workflows to send reminders and follow-ups automatically.

The results? Higher student engagement, fewer no-shows, and 800 hours saved since getting started with Calendly in 2021.

Calendly helps to ensure that our services are there for students when they need them.

Testimonial author

Sid Babla

Wellbeing Program Coordinator at Dartmouth College

Hear from Wellbeing Program Coordinator Sid Babla as he shares how Calendly helped his team meet their goals:

Dartmouth College Wellbeing Program Coordinator Sid Babla shares how Calendly helped his team meet their goals.

Support students and save time with scheduling automation

See why the country’s top 15 private education institutions and 13 of the top 15 public education institutions trust Calendly to streamline scheduling and create a better student experience. Sign up for free today.

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Rachel Burns

Rachel Burns

Rachel is a Content Marketing Manager at Calendly. When she’s not writing, you can find her rescuing dogs, baking something, or extolling the virtue of the Oxford comma.

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