Tools for all Schools
November 27, 2018

Tools for all Schools

Angela Valentine | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Jenzabar SONIS

Technical College of the Rockies uses Jenzabar SONIS as the Student Information System for the entire school. We used it for managing all student information including address, phone number, demographics, emergency contacts, and enrollment records. We also used it for all of our course records including course schedules, teachers, enrollment and grades. We did not use it for financial records. We imported all of our electronic records from our previous database and scanned and attached student records that had been in printed formats. This allowed us to have all of our student records in one place so we could more easily find both current and historical data.

Pros

  • Jenzabar SONIS provides tools for working with individuals from their first request for information through submitting an application, being accepted for admission, enrolling in courses, taking and completing courses, and graduating from the school. The available tools not only provide a way to manage the data, but also for ongoing communication between the school and the prospect/student/graduate.
  • Jenzabar SONIS allows a school the flexibility of enrolling students in individual courses, like you might have in adult education departments, or in programs and courses like you would find for students working on a degree. This flexibility made Jenzabar SONIS a valuable tool for us because we had not only certificate-seeking students but also a large Community Education Department and could use the same software for both.
  • Jenzabar SONIS has the tools to record attendance and grades directly into a gradebook or to import final grades. This allowed us to continue to use our LMS for those teachers who wanted the resources available in that system while letting teachers who just needed a place to store grades to enter them directly into SONIS.
  • The ability to attach pdfs to courses and individual records allowed us to scan many of our cumulative files from our archive and attach them to the alumni records in Jenzabar SONIS. This gave us more accessible, secure storage for our historical records and made it much easier to produce transcripts for alumni.

Cons

  • One of the biggest struggles we had with Jenzabar SONIS was trying to figure out the best way to use some of the features. We didn't always understand the table relationships and so wasn't sure how some of our process decisions would affect other areas of data. There weren't any specific guidelines about how the designers expected fields to be used or how data should be entered. We sometimes discovered later that a field we chose to not use in one table made data entry in another table difficult.
  • We weren't ever able to use any of the financial features of Jenzabar SONIS. When we first tried using them there were a lot of things that the software either didn't do well or that took so many steps that our business office staff was frustrated. I think that part of the software has improved but our business office was still not comfortable using it.
  • Report writing was difficult for someone without strong SQL knowledge. We purchased the add-on report writer shortly before I left the school I was at and I believe it will help with that issue but a school who chose not to get that add-on would definitely need someone who knows SQL if they want to be able to generate their own reports.
  • Jenzabar SONIS was a very positive investment for us. Prior to using Jenzabar SONIS we had two people involved in admissions acitivites: setting up classes, enrolling students, processing applications, etc. We were able to do that with one person when we switched to Jenzabar SONIS.
  • Processing transcript requests was a very time consuming process for us because we had to go to the vault, locate the students paper file, pull it, and then either make copies of it or enter the appropriate data in the student's Jenzabar SONIS record so a transcript could be printed. Because we were able to scan and attach the records to files in Jenzabar SONIS we can eliminate several steps and reduce the time it takes to produce a transcript.
  • Having all of our prospect, student, alumni, and course data in one place as streamlined many of our processes and allowed for more effective prospect tracking.
  • We are able to share enrollment and grade information directly between Jenzabar SONIS and our LMS. That greatly reduced the staff time involved in entering enrollment data in the LMS and then pulling grades and entering them in Jenzabar SONIS.
We changed databases in 2011 because the company we were with was going to quit supporting our software. We evaluated a number of different SISs available at the time and felt Jenzabar SONIS provided the best tools for our school. Most of the others were either geared more for adult education, individual course offerings or for schools that primarily had degree-seeking students. We needed something that could address both needs.We felt Jenzabar SONIS did that best of the ones we reviewed.
We often had students who came and took a class or completed a program, left, and then came back for something else at a later time. It was nice to be able to have someone in Jenzabar SONIS with multiple statuses. They could be in as a Student for the current class while still being in as an Alumni for the program they had graduated from.
Most of our programs are set up so the students within that program are all taking the same courses at the same time. The bulk registration feature made it easy to enroll one student and then use that student's enrollment to quickly enroll all of the others in the program. That was a huge time saver.
We had letters and emails that we wanted to send out at specific times in the application process. The Activity tool in Jenzabar SONIS made it easy for us to have some things that were automatically added to a person's record and others that we could add as needed. We could then run timed letters or emails and get our communication sent out.
We had some challenges with Jenzabar SONIS because we have a number of certificate programs that are only one semester in length. We often had students who would complete one certificate (program) in the fall and then complete another one in the spring. Many of the reports pulled data only for the active enrollment so we had to go back and manually pull the data for the enrollment from the other semester if we needed something for the full school year.

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