Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Appointment Scheduler for HPU Financial Aid Counselors

Alright, so you're probably thinking why the title with the HPU Financial Aid Counselors and why an appointment scheduler? Let me just give you a little background about myself. I currently work at the Office of Financial Aid at our beloved Hawaii Pacific University. I have been for the past two years as a Federal Work Study (FWS) student and am currently the Senior FWS student there. Working there a while, I have noticed that HPU students still schedule appointments via email, phone or in person. So, I thought, "Hey! What about an appointment scheduler for the counselors?" and here we are. Let's brainstorm, shall we?

Problem Description
The Financial Aid Office services about 150+ students a day, not including the multitude of calls and emails that come in simultaneously from students and/or parents inquiring about their or their child's:
  • Financial Aid Status
  • Financial Aid Requirements
  • Required Document Corrections
  • Holds
  • Loans and Lenders
  • Financial Aid Refunds (the most inquired about - people have bills to pay, rent to give up, unwillingly, I might add, a new laptop they want *ahem* need... what? o_o)
  • etc.,
On a good day, we can accommodate walk-ins for students and their parents right away if they wish to speak to their assigned counselors and answer any general questions students may have. During our busy days, we'll have students lined up and piling into the office just waiting to speak to or follow up with their counselors about a matter they've discussed previously. With that comes post-it notes and scribbles all over counselors' offices and the front desk calendars. 

I recommend that we set up an appointment scheduler similar to one that the Academic Advising Office has here. It's nice and simple and as a student, myself, very convenient without having to go down to the office and schedule one in person or waiting for a reply via email.

System Capabilities
The new system should:
  • Give a list of services
    • Financial Aid Counseling
    • Loan Counseling and Repayment
  • Collect information about the student and whether they are:
    • Military/Veteran
    • Undergraduate
    • Graduate
  • Have information on the current Financial Aid counselors and who the students should see
    • List of counselors
  • Provide available dates and times to meet with counselors
  • Be able to receive student details, such as:
    • Name
    • Contact Number
    • Email
    • Additional Info (Student ID, Major, Purpose for Appointment)
  • Give confirmation for set appointment
  • Be accessible via Wi-Fi (Internet) and transmitting data
  • Be easily accessible and convenient for students and/or parents
Business Benefits
With this new system implemented, the Financial Aid Office should see:
  • Definitely a shorter line at the front desk waiting area
  • Less frequent surprise visits from students with/without their parents
  • An increase in productivity for answering calls and responding to emails for front-desk staff without having to deal with students coming in for walk-in appointments
  • Less disorderly notes and scribbles on calendars
  • Counselors have time to view a student's account and have somewhat of a grasp of the student's status and situation before-hand
There, now... that's what I've got for brainstorming ideas. It's pretty detailed but it's because it's modeled after what the Academic Advising Office has set up for theirs. It looks like they're using a software called GenBook to help with their appointments.

Let's try to keep people happy and keep folks like these away, shall we? Believe me, they're out there.

Alright, let me know what you think - Yay or Nay?

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