New portal to help students with higher education applications

By Ken Luchterhand

A new website portal will make things easier for students.
Higher Education Division Manager Marcus Lewis and Computer Programmer Sam Bristol have been working together to produce the new tool to help students, both young and adults, to help advance their educations.
The Ho-Chunk Nation Higher Education Department will launch the new portal on July 1.
“The portal is designed to keep each person’s profile on file in a very secure manner. The profile will allow faster access to essential information and maintain a record of all applications and grants,” Lewis said.
The process of developing the portal started a little over a year ago. 
“It will be user friendly. Feedback on the prototypes has been good,” Lewis said.
They have had a limited-term-employee (LTE) working with education to get the bugs out, Lewis said. It will be a well-season product when it comes out July 1.
The first years is a transition year, allowing them to work out everything so it performs smoothly, he said.
Security for the portal will be tight and will prevent anyone from being able to access the service, giving optimal privacy.
Because the new portal was built from scratch, it will not have the same configuration as commercial web designs, therefore not following a pattern, Bristol said. The unique nature of the design will prevent any potential hackers from being able to access the site.
 “It’s really going to streamline the process,” Lewis said. “I’m excited about this. It will move us into the 21st century.”
To help the students with the application process, the portal will cut down on the amount of repetition, of having to fill in basic personal information, by using an autofill process, Bristol said.
“With the new tool, we’ll be able to do live updates,” Lewis said. “The students can register for school applications. It’s a tool to upload documents. Supporting biographical information. They can get a better handle on data.
The portal will keep all participating student profiles on file and will help filing grant, scholarship, and entrance applications with autofill, an automated process to fill in items such as name, address, Social Security number and other personal information.
“No one will have to fill anything out that isn’t new,” Lewis said.
Students will be able to track the acceptance or denial of scholarships or special request programs.
“It will be a document repository to manage and organize student information,” Lewis said. “They can communicate quicker, they can upload documents quicker, and they can see online if the application has been accepted or rejected quicker,” Lewis said.
They have creating student profiles for the 2017-18 school years and hope to transfer more internal documents into the service.
Seniors in next school year (2018-19) can begin filling out the forms and getting prepared for moving on to a university, college or technical school. Anyone who wishes to apply for higher education services can use the portal, regardless of age.
To get the word out, Lewis and other Higher Education staff plan to announce the service to Ho-Chunk members in the Area meetings and by mailing out fliers to students via the mail.
The IT staff also is developing a mobile version of the portal so it can be used effectively on handheld devices, such as smart phones and electronic tablets.
As the portal is utilized and its advantages become apparent, the rest of the Education Department will be developing a portal for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 portal.
“It’s very exciting,” Lewis said.