International School of Nanshan Shenzhen

Shenzhen, China

Sherry Zeng

Head of Admissions and Marketing

OpenApply provides a deep insight into the effectiveness of various marketing channels and efforts as well as facilitates strategic, data-driven planning for future activities. We previously used other CRM systems to handle scholarship applications, but there were significant drawbacks.

International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (ISNS) was founded in 2002, and boasts a diverse community of teachers and students from over 20 countries. As the first IB Continuum school in Shenzhen, ISNS offers a Canadian curriculum within the IB framework that is internationally recognised. The innovative curriculum empowers students to thrive and become holisticly developed global citizens, preparing them for top-tier universities.

ISNS began using OpenApply in 2016 to centralise and manage admissions data, ensure data security, and generate data analysis. As the school continued to explore OpenApply’s features and functionality, it became more and more widely used, and has now become the operation and data center for the school.

The Importance of Data Security

International schools are complex communities involving numerous stakeholders. In the process of digilisation, it is common for schools to utilise multiple platforms and tools to ensure comprehensive coverage. Consequently, there are often concerns raised by parents regarding data security. To minimise data risks, reduce queries, and strengthen trust between the school and parents, it often becomes essential for schools to adopt a centralised data management platform, such as the integrated school OS developed by the Faria Group. This ensures data security in collection, management, transportation, and utilisation of data.

As a result of utilising the granular permission feature in OpenApply to assign access rights to staff from different departments, ISNS ensured their teams could only view and efficiently utilise data that is relevant to their work. The staff directory in OpenApply was also configured with various department options. Users can select the appropriate school division, campus, student type (applicant, enrolled student, or alumni), and data type (basic information, academic information, financial information, health information, etc.) for an entire department or an individual user.

Building a School Data Center

At the initial stage of application, ISNS utilises OpenApply forms to collect comprehensive family data. With names for example, they require parents to provide the legal name, preferred name, or the name spelled in their native language. The purpose of this is to minimise the need for requesting supplementary information from parents at a later stage.

Furthermore, the school uses OpenApply to collect other information, such as during the pandemic, where they continuously tracked student addresses, local community offices, health information, vaccination records, and more with OpenApply.

Beyond Admissions

“At ISNS, we use the OpenApply CRM module for managing marketing activities” says Sherry Zeng, Head of Admissions and Marketing. “For example, ISNS can use it to track the number of leads, conversion rates, and other metrics for different school fairs, agency events, and open days. This provides a deep insight into the effectiveness of various marketing channels and efforts as well as facilitates strategic, data-driven planning for future activities.”

After adding marketing activity to OpenApply, the school can generate unique links and QR codes for parents to click on or scan. The system can then track which sources are successful and generate analytics to gather granular data.

In addition, OpenApply can also be used internally for managing information on current students. “We aim to establish the image of OpenApply as an information management center in the minds of parents”, Sherry adds, “and we get them engaged in campus life through sumitting scholarship applications, financial aid applications, and survey forms on OpenApply.”

With scholarship applications for example, ISNS offers over 60 scholarships, which are available to both internal and external students. “We previously used other CRM systems to handle scholarship applications, but there were significant drawbacks, such as limited data export time, an inability to integrate with other systems, and the inability to view historical information, among others”, remembers Sherry. “When we transitioned to using OpenApply, we customised scholarship application forms, set deadlines, and added them to the to-do lists of relevant enrolled students”, adds Sherry. The school can easily view and export all relevant data at any time.

Lastly, ISNS also use OpenApply to manage Parent Workshops for enrolled families. Sherry raves, “It’s very convenient, for instance, we can set the duration and the number of participants, to ensure meaningful and in-depth discussions with each one of the families. We can also upload files such as PowerPoint presentations, links, and videos for parents to preview.” Another advantage of using OpenApply for event management is the ease of downloading attendee information and sending reminders to parents who have not yet registered.

From a parent’s perspective, OpenApply fields will auto-populate on different forms saving them a significant amount of time.