Cycle Prep is the process in which Slate administrators update Slate in preparation for the upcoming admissions cycle. In addition to ensuring that items such as applications, status pages, forms, and mailings are updated for the new application period, Cycle Prep should be used as a time to audit your Slate database and identify changes that are needed to ensure that processes are efficient and using updated Slate tools.
Institutions that have gone through the Slate implementation process and have released decisions or otherwise completed an admissions cycle within Slate should participate in Cycle Prep.
Cycle Prep touches many parts of Slate. To update specific resources, you must be granted permission to that resource.
Time of Year
Many institutions find that the summer months are the best time to work on Cycle Prep, as this is often the time between the previous and upcoming admission cycles. However, Cycle Prep isn't specifically a summer project. We encourage you to work on Cycle Prep when you have the time and resources available to audit your processes and update your Slate database thoughtfully.
For institutions with rolling admissions, Cycle Prep is best undertaken when the fewest applications are typically received. Institutions with rolling admissions should be mindful of activating and inactivating periods and rounds while applications are still live.
Your test environment can be especially useful in helping to manage Cycle Prep changes for rolling admissions. Build out your updates in your production environment but do not activate the updates. Then, provision or update your test environment where thorough testing can be performed before updating your production environment.
Refer to the Annual Period & Round Maintenance article for best practices on updating rounds and managing applications for rolling admissions.
Your go-live date is when your institution will start receiving applications, and the majority of Cycle Prep activities should be completed.
Sufficient time should be allowed to complete the following recommended steps in advance of your go-live date:
- Audit existing processes.
- Make any necessary updates.
- Test the updates.
- Make additional necessary changes based on testing.
- Re-test all changes to confirm.
Cycle Prep Status Page
A Cycle Prep status page displays for all institutions that have gone through the Slate implementation process and have released decisions or who otherwise have completed an admissions cycle within Slate. Your Cycle Prep status page has been pre-populated with a standard set of checklist items, but these items can also be modified to meet your needs. You can also add custom checklist items as either one-time or recurring tasks. Changes to your custom checklist items will persist year-over-year and available to you year-round.
To access the status page:
- Select Database from the top navigation.
- Under Support Resources, select Service Desk.
- Select Service Desk Requests.
- Select Cycle Prep Status Page.
ImportantDo You Work in Multiple Databases?
To access the status page for another database:
- Click "Logout" from the status page you have opened up/accessed
- Login to the other database
- Access the status page
Only Slate users with the permissions Submit requests to Service Desk, Service Desk Requests, or Administrator (All Access) can access the Cycle Prep status page from the link on the Service Desk Request landing page in Slate.
Learn more about managing Cycle Prep checklist items in the article Using the Cycle Prep Status Page.
Cycle Prep Goals
Cycle Prep activities should focus on the following overall goals:
- Update Slate to accept application information for the new application cycle.
- Audit and update Slate to ensure processes are effective and efficient.
All institutions should complete the following items to ensure that Slate can accept application information for the new application cycle.
Review Annual Period & Round Maintenance for detailed information on creating new periods and rounds.
Review the Application Building Checklist for detailed instruction on Slate application editing.
Create new application periods for the upcoming cycle
- New application periods should only be made active once you are ready to go live with that application cycle.
- Old application periods should only be made inactive once you have completely finished the application processing cycle for that period.
- Application periods can be configured to disable the status page and Slate-hosted application as needed.
Create new application rounds for the upcoming cycle
- New rounds should be activated only when the Slate application should be live for applicants. Rounds should not be made active during testing.
- Application rounds that are not used with a Slate-hosted application should not be made active (e.g., Common App-exclusive institutions should have inactive application rounds for each admissions round where applicants apply through Common App).
Edit the Slate-hosted application (if applicable)
- Identify updates needed (e.g., text edits, fields and prompts to be added or inactivated, etc.).
- Add or update hard and soft fails in Application Logic.
- Use the Form Builder to update application pages that are forms.
- Use the Application Editor to update application pages that are .xslt files.
Review and edit the application status page and/or portal
- There are two types of applicant status pages that can be configured in Slate:
Applicant status portals are much more robust than the default status page. They can be customized using conditional content using the convenient drag-and-drop portal editor, can display social media feeds easily, and are generally much easier to update year-to-year.
If you're still using a default status page, consider creating a custom applicant status portal if you are planning to make significant changes to your content or process for the coming year.
- Use the Application Editor to update the default status page.
- Use the Portals tool to update a custom status portal.
- Teasers functionality (previously necessary to drive conditional content on a default status page) can now be accomplished using a custom status portal. Consider migrating this functionality to a status portal.
- Note: If still using Teasers, pre-caching should be enabled. Pre-caching ensures optimal reliability and performance at times when the status page is being heavily accessed, such as a decision release.
All institutions should review and update how Slate is used for internal application processing and management of records.
Review Slate access and security
This is one of the most important aspects of Cycle Prep; we strongly recommend that you review these items regularly.
- Multi-factor authentication in Slate should be enabled for institutions that do not have it enabled through their campus-hosted single sign-on system.
- Review all users with active access to Slate. Pay particular attention to users who have Administrator, Security Administrator, Custom SQL, and all Query permissions. Permissions should only be given to those who need them and should be removed when no longer used.
- Update permissions and access. In addition to user permissions, Slate allows for population permissions on records and permissions on objects through Realms.
Dormant Users view lists users who have not logged into Slate since the specified date. Inactivate users who meet your institution’s threshold for being considered dormant.
Update, inactivate, or archive current resources
- Inactivate and/or archive resources that are no longer needed.
- Resources to be used for the next application cycle should have any references to the year, entry term, rounds, etc., updated.
- While not a comprehensive list, the following items should be reviewed when determining updates needed for Cycle Prep:
|Resources||Items to Review|
|Active Mailings||Message send status, ongoing message content, recipient list filter criteria|
|Event Templates||Template forms, event communications, related events, event landing pages|
|Forms||Logic and prompts in form fields, form rules|
|Interview Templates||Template forms, interview report forms, interview communications, interview landing pages|
|Rules||Rule filter criteria, population rules, staff assignment rules|
|Scheduled Exports||Filter criteria for scheduled exports|
|Source Formats||Update prompt mappings, use standard source formats from the Source Format Library|
Use the Resource Auditor to review active resources to help determine if items should be updated, inactivated, or archived for the next cycle. Resources that have not been used recently (as noted by a higher value in the Days column) should be critically reviewed to determine if they are still needed.
Review and update the Reader
- Review and update reader review forms as needed. Create new reader review forms with the scope of 'Reader.'
- Review and implement newer Reader functionality where applicable. For example, the following items may prove helpful for your process:
Review and update your decision process
- Review Decision Codes and Decision Reasons. Inactivate unused decisions.
- Review Decision Letter Templates. Update letters only after the current application period is made inactive. Create new letters yearly if significant changes in content are expected, as any changes to templates will be reflected on all associated assigned decisions.
- Review and update decision reply forms if needed. Decision reply forms should have the scope of 'Application'.
- Consider adding a little pizzazz to your admit decision letters using a falling confetti script.
- Managing a mountain of conditional logic in your decision letters? Consider using Snippets to simplify complicated content.
Review, create, and run retention policies
- Create retention policies that adhere to your institution’s policy for maintaining data in Slate.
- Build new retention policies using the new Retention Policy Editor, which features grouping and scheduling functionality. Configurable Joins can also be used to filter more specifically on many different types of data in order to delete as desired.
- Existing retention policies can still be run using the legacy "Retention Policies" tool.
- Ensure that you are executing retention policies at least annually. Be aware that you are assuming risks by not maintaining and periodically running retention policies.
Confirm that DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) configuration is enabled and validated
- Validating the DKIM Configuration ensures email delivery by authenticating that email sent by Slate is authorized.
- The DKIM Configuration page displays the status of the configuration. An inactive status indicates that your email domain(s) need to be added to your institution’s DNS servers.
Review and update Slate.org application sharing settings (undergraduate institutions only)
- Determine and update when applicant data should be shared with counselors enrolled in Slate.org using the rounds and application statuses settings.
- Configure the checklists, materials, and decisions settings.
Move custom SQL triggers to Slate tools (if applicable)
- The 'Triggers To Be Migrated' tab on your Cycle Prep status page will list any custom SQL triggers in your Slate database that should be moved to a Slate tool.
- Use the custom SQL trigger migration resources listed in the Appendix section at the end of this document for additional information.