10 reasons why student forms must be online

This school year, was the same as every other year. I am sure anyone with school aged children will be able to relate to this entry. After the first day of school, my daughter came home with literally 10 student forms that had to be completed by yesterday – ‘or else’. I am all for supporting our children’s schools and their teachers and administrators, but this prehistoric process has to change. I can only image how frustrating the process must be for parents of multiple children because parents have to fill out the same set of forms for each child. Time for a parent protest? Anyone? Here are 10 reasons why filling out printed student forms is incomprehensible in the year that is nearly 2012 and makes for a less than delightful experience for the customer – me!. (I would include some positive stuff here, but I simply could not think of one positive thing about this process).
  1. The biggest challenge with this process is expecting my daughter to get the forms to me! The forms rarely get from the knapsack to the kitchen counter.
  2. They are the exact SAME forms as last year. The only difference is the date on the form. Same signature, same information. Guess what? My daughter’s birth date, doctor, dentist, church, hair color, pet, allergy list, and her parents names have not changed since last year!
  3. All 10 forms are unprofessional and really badly formatted. For example, there isn’t enough room on the form to input my long address. So I had to squish in the information, then cross some of it out. Then I put in the wrong information on the wrong line. Arg. I only received one printed form!
  4. I have to fill these forms out in pen. I can’t find a pen. If I do find a pen – it doesn’t work. When was the last time I actually wrote something by hand? I only know how to type which means that my handwriting is so bad, there is no way that anyone will be able to accurately input this information. And my wrist is cramping up. (Unfortunately, I’m serious.)
  5. I omitted some of the fields in several places since I was in a hurry and was being pressured incessantly by my daughter to complete these forms. “Did you finish them yet?” “When are you going to complete them?” “Mom… they’re due today and can’t be late”… So, some fields were left blank. I guess the form was input without that information because no one called me to clarify.
  6. I had to write a cheque for the school dues. Huh? What is a cheque? You want me to pay for something without getting reward points for the transaction? (Did I also mention that the cheques were literally cashed 8 weeks later?)
  7. My daughter then takes on the role of mule for the transportation phase of the completed form back to the school. Am I really expected to trust that this ultra-sensitive private information package is delivered back to the school by a hormonal pre-teen? Talk about private and secure! I’m not even sure if the forms ever made it back to the school. (well, except that the cheque was cashed 8 weeks later).
  8. My chicken scratch has to be data entered manually into some database. Human error and inaccuracy simply can’t be avoided here.
  9. The form has to be filed, retrievable, archived, then eventually destroyed.
  10. This process is responsible for a huge environmental footprint. 12 years times 10 forms times 1500 students = 180,000 pieces of paper for one school’s educational cycle, not to mention the footprint attached to paper production, logistics, archiving and ultimate destruction. Not stellar leadership in the green arena.
I then wait in anticipation to next year to look forward to when the process starts all over again. I don’t just want to complain here. That would make me a whiner. I’m thinking that complaining can be offset somewhat when solutions are provided. Here are some suggested process alternatives that seem to be way overdue seeing as the last time I checked, we are rapidly approaching 2012:
  1. secure e-Form is placed on the school website that can be completed securely online and accepts large uploaded attachments, such as immunization records or birth certificate or proof of address.
  2. The school sends me a secure email advising me to complete the form.
  3. I access the form online and input some kind of authentication information to confirm that I am who I say I am. (banks, and government taxation sites offer me this capability. We can certainly have this in place for public educational institutions).
  4. I complete the secure form on line and upload any necessary attachments. I also pay for any school dues by credit card, or run a tab that is paid off every semester since it takes that long to cash any of the cheques I write.
  5. The form provides help, clarification and information for each field. It also ensures that I complete all areas of the form as required.
  6. The form submission is securely sent directly to the school administration clerk’s inbox, letting her know that it’s complete.
  7. The clerk can begin a secure email dialogue with me if s(he) requires any additional information or needs clarification. Technology exists where the school staff member can converse with me by email – without divulging his or her email address during the exchange.
  8. The data I input into the e-Form is securely and automatically entered into the school’s database.
  9. If I do not send in the form on time, I am sent an automatic email reminding me to complete it by xx date.
  10. NEXT year, the school sends me an encrypted email with a secure e-statement that summarizes my daughter’s information, and if anything needs to be changed, directs me by link to the secure e-form on line to make changes.
Voila! Efficiencies plus, no dead trees, no huge footprint, accuracy, privacy, and one very happy delighted customer -> mom. Ariane Laird works with email2, provider of encrypted email and patented compliance and secure content delivery features used by thousands of professionals.This school year, was the same as every other year. I am sure anyone with school aged children will be able to relate to this entry. After the first day of school, my daughter came home with literally 10 student forms that had to be completed by yesterday – ‘or else’. I am all for supporting our children’s schools and their teachers and administrators, but this prehistoric process has to change. I can only image how frustrating the process must be for parents of multiple children because parents have to fill out the same set of forms for each child. Time for a parent protest? Anyone? Here are 10 reasons why filling out printed student forms is incomprehensible in the year that is nearly 2012 and makes for a less than delightful experience for the customer – me!. (I would include some positive stuff here, but I simply could not think of one positive thing about this process).
  1. The biggest challenge with this process is expecting my daughter to get the forms to me! The forms rarely get from the knapsack to the kitchen counter.
  2. They are the exact SAME forms as last year. The only difference is the date on the form. Same signature, same information. Guess what? My daughter’s birth date, doctor, dentist, church, hair color, pet, allergy list, and her parents names have not changed since last year!
  3. All 10 forms are unprofessional and really badly formatted. For example, there isn’t enough room on the form to input my long address. So I had to squish in the information, then cross some of it out. Then I put in the wrong information on the wrong line. Arg. I only received one printed form!
  4. I have to fill these forms out in pen. I can’t find a pen. If I do find a pen – it doesn’t work. When was the last time I actually wrote something by hand? I only know how to type which means that my handwriting is so bad, there is no way that anyone will be able to accurately input this information. And my wrist is cramping up. (Unfortunately, I’m serious.)
  5. I omitted some of the fields in several places since I was in a hurry and was being pressured incessantly by my daughter to complete these forms. “Did you finish them yet?” “When are you going to complete them?” “Mom… they’re due today and can’t be late”… So, some fields were left blank. I guess the form was input without that information because no one called me to clarify.
  6. I had to write a cheque for the school dues. Huh? What is a cheque? You want me to pay for something without getting reward points for the transaction? (Did I also mention that the cheques were literally cashed 8 weeks later?)
  7. My daughter then takes on the role of mule for the transportation phase of the completed form back to the school. Am I really expected to trust that this ultra-sensitive private information package is delivered back to the school by a hormonal pre-teen? Talk about private and secure! I’m not even sure if the forms ever made it back to the school. (well, except that the cheque was cashed 8 weeks later).
  8. My chicken scratch has to be data entered manually into some database. Human error and inaccuracy simply can’t be avoided here.
  9. The form has to be filed, retrievable, archived, then eventually destroyed.
  10. This process is responsible for a huge environmental footprint. 12 years times 10 forms times 1500 students = 180,000 pieces of paper for one school’s educational cycle, not to mention the footprint attached to paper production, logistics, archiving and ultimate destruction. Not stellar leadership in the green arena.
I then wait in anticipation to next year to look forward to when the process starts all over again. I don’t just want to complain here. That would make me a whiner. I’m thinking that complaining can be offset somewhat when solutions are provided. Here are some suggested process alternatives that seem to be way overdue seeing as the last time I checked, we are rapidly approaching 2012:
  1. secure e-Form is placed on the school website that can be completed securely online and accepts large uploaded attachments, such as immunization records or birth certificate or proof of address.
  2. The school sends me a secure email advising me to complete the form.
  3. I access the form online and input some kind of authentication information to confirm that I am who I say I am. (banks, and government taxation sites offer me this capability. We can certainly have this in place for public educational institutions).
  4. I complete the secure form on line and upload any necessary attachments. I also pay for any school dues by credit card, or run a tab that is paid off every semester since it takes that long to cash any of the cheques I write.
  5. The form provides help, clarification and information for each field. It also ensures that I complete all areas of the form as required.
  6. The form submission is securely sent directly to the school administration clerk’s inbox, letting her know that it’s complete.
  7. The clerk can begin a secure email dialogue with me if s(he) requires any additional information or needs clarification. Technology exists where the school staff member can converse with me by email – without divulging his or her email address during the exchange.
  8. The data I input into the e-Form is securely and automatically entered into the school’s database.
  9. If I do not send in the form on time, I am sent an automatic email reminding me to complete it by xx date.
  10. NEXT year, the school sends me an encrypted email with a secure e-statement that summarizes my daughter’s information, and if anything needs to be changed, directs me by link to the secure e-form on line to make changes.
Voila! Efficiencies plus, no dead trees, no huge footprint, accuracy, privacy, and one very happy delighted customer -> mom. Ariane Laird works with email2, provider of encrypted email and patented compliance and secure content delivery features used by thousands of professionals.