K12 Records Resources

February 09, 2023

Compare PreK-12 Enrollment: In-Person and Online

Thinking about taking your K-12 registration online? Compare the differences between what in-person and online enrollment looks like for families and staff.


Districts using paper and PDF-based enrollment and choice application forms know the tedious process for families and staff best. In our Technology Guide for Online Enrollment, Choice, and Lottery Management, we've compared the difference in complexity and timeline between in-person and online enrollment processes. Read the list of steps Patty the Parent/Guardian and district staff must take for each process, or download the guide to get an easy visual to share with your team!


What in-person enrollment looks like for families
  • Patty Parent/Guardian takes time off work to go to the school to complete enrollment.
  • Patty attempts to get a babysitter for a child but has no luck.
  • She arranges a ride to complete all the documents at the school.
  • Patty arrives at the school and waits for the office clerk to provide her with the documentation packet. The phone won’t stop ringing, and the staff member seems very busy and frustrated.
  • Patty prepares to complete the documentation packet.
  • She starts to complete all documents while her child asks for a snack.
  • Patty stops, digs out a snack, and continues the paperwork.
  • She shuffles through papers to find the identification documents needed.
  • She asks the front office to make copies of the documents that need to be enclosed with the application. She waits again while the clerk takes another phone call. While watching the copy machine run, Patty wonders if her child’s personal documents will also be placed in the folder on the counter for anyone to open and look at.
  • Patty’s child is getting bored. She stops again to find a movie on her phone to keep the child occupied while the paperwork continues.
  • She realizes some of the documents needed are still at home!
  • Patty packs up all the paperwork, snacks, and her child to head back home to get the missing paperwork.
  • She feels completely frustrated and defeated. She must find another time to take off work, attempt to find childcare, and return to the office to complete the process.


What in-person enrollment looks like for staff

  • While on the phone, a family– Patty the Parent/Guardian and her child– arrive to complete the paperwork for the child to enroll. You tell them you will be with them in a moment.
  • You give Patty an enrollment packet and hope she doesn’t have too many questions because you have phones ringing and emails to write and respond to.
  • Your call is interrupted by the sound of Patty’s child whining because they want a snack. Luckily a snack was received; back to your call.
  • Another interruption, copies need to be made of the documents required for the enrollment package.
  • You start to create the folder that will house all the documents. You will place them on the counter with the others for a later date when you have time to enter all the information into the system. You know it's not secure, but you are running out of space and time is becoming less and less available.
  • Patty’s child is now very bored and needs something to do. It looks like screen time is to the rescue so the paperwork can be completed.
  • There is a lot of paper shuffling and sighs; you hear Patty say that some of the documents were left at home.
  • You are asked how long you will be open and state that the school hours are also your hours. Patty shares she had to take the day off work and arrange a ride to get there and now she must do that all over again.
  • Patty leaves, and you get back to your very busy day hoping she will return.


Is there an easier way to enroll students for Patty, you, and your colleagues? Yes, there is.


What online enrollment looks like for families

  • Your district invites families to enroll using multiple touchpoints online or in-person
  • Patty the Parent can use her phone, computer, or tablet to complete the enrollment application.
  • Patty uploads her child’s documents via a secure online portal.
  • Patty can check the status of her child’s application online through a Family Dashboard.


What online enrollment looks like for staff

  • You and your staff create online directions and post them to your district website, social media channels, eblasts, and fliers.
  • You log in to an online portal where you easily check on new admissions.
  • You communicate with families by sending messages directly through the application sent to their dashboard. They will also receive automated messaging.
  • The student documents are protected and verified online while keeping everything in order. Application statuses are updated in real-time. All this information is synced and shared through a Family Dashboard.
  • When you or your leadership team has a question about how the process is going, it is easy to pull accurate, real-time reports that show where students are enrolling and what trends are occurring.


Streamlining enrollment from both sides will save your staff and families time and frustration. Not to mention, freeing up time for district staff to focus on program improvement will bring performance up in more ways than anticipated! The time to consider going digital is now.


If you're ready to make the switch to digital choice and enrollment management, download our entire technology guide for more helpful information like this.


Download The Technology Guide for PreK-12 Enrollment, Choice, and Lottery Management