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The Joy School

Imagine a school where saying “goodbye” after just a few years is actually a cause for celebration.

At The Joy School in Texas, a school for children with a range of learning differences, when a student is ready to move on, it means the school's programs have worked, and the student is prepared to thrive in a new chapter in their life. At The Joy School, leaving is a sign of success.

This perspective is just one of the ways The Joy School is so special, but before sending students off, they need to welcome, enroll, and admit families with just as much care.

Director of Admissions Christine Pratt and the admissions team understand how important it is for parents to find the right support, and they aim to make the first and every stage of the enrollment process as smooth as possible.

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At a Glance

Located in Houston, Texas, The Joy School supports students with learning differences in grades K-8.

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Joy focuses on building strong relationships, however, its previous enrollment system didn’t provide that experience and, more importantly, the trust needed by its admissions team and families. That's why switching to Finalsite Enrollment has allowed the school to prioritize what really matters—supporting students and families.

The Challenges

With specific admission and enrollment goals on the line, enrollment success became more difficult, and the inadequacies became frustrating barriers. For Joy, the previous system wasn’t originally designed as admissions-specific software and felt more like an afterthought, adapted for admissions tasks rather than built from the ground up with those needs in mind.

Losing Momentum with Customer Support Delays

The previous provider's customer support wasn’t helping either.

“In admissions, there are so many things coming at you,” Pratt explained. “There are so many people you're trying to support. When a problem arises, or you hit a bump, it's really difficult to request help and then wait two days for a solution, especially if it's a data pull or you're setting up different lines of communication or campaigns.”

The delay in resolving issues stalled their workflows and led to a disjointed experience where momentum and context were lost.

Complexity and Trust in Data Reliability

“Admissions need to focus their time on developing relationships and welcoming new families into the community,” continued Pratt, adding that the former system’s complexity and the unreliability of its data were major concerns for the team. 

“Anytime I wanted to do something in the old system, I couldn't do it myself or didn't know how. When I called support, they didn't know either, and I just needed it to work."

Pratt knows accurate data is crucial for making informed decisions and managing admissions strategies, but a lack of trust created confusion.

"In the old system, pulling numbers wasn't consistent, and we had to figure out where applications were in the process. I didn't trust the software, didn't trust the data, and didn't trust that we were contacting the right people."

The Solution

Switching to Finalsite Enrollment transformed how the admissions team greets and engages families. Since its implementation, the software's customization options have made it possible to align with the school’s specific needs, meaning more efficient operations, reliable support, and accurate data.

User-Friendly Software, Tailored to Admissions

"Finalsite Enrollment is specifically built for admissions, unlike other systems that add on features as an afterthought—that makes a big difference," said Pratt.

children outside

Furthermore, because Finalsite Enrollment seamlessly integrates with Joy’s website, built on Finalsite’s content management system, Composer, the admissions and marketing teams can collaborate more effectively and provide a consistent, branded experience.

The user-friendly dashboard and reporting features also let less technically proficient staff navigate and utilize the system with confidence, shortening the learning curve for everyone.

“I'm a relationship-builder, not a tech person. I can talk all day long, but the tech part is hard,” Pratt laughed. “With Finalsite Enrollment, I can do everything myself. It's super user-friendly, and I don't have to involve IT or a database administrator."

Responsive and Accessible Support

Despite all the benefits, one of the most significant improvements has been the responsiveness and access to customer support. 

"The customer service, hands down, sold us, and it continues to be such a selling point,” Pratt said. “The fact that you can get someone on the phone when you're struggling or need help in the moment is huge. With Finalsite Enrollment, I don't have to write a ticket and wait days for an answer. I can get a quick answer and continue my task."

"Another factor is the people. I had conversations with other companies where the people trying to support or sell me the product didn't understand the product. When I talk to everybody at Finalsite, it's almost like they built the system themselves because they really understand how it works.”

Efficient Automation and Data Management

“Finalsite had the largest capability for what we needed,” Pratt said, noting that Finalsite Enrollment stood out with its ability to be customized to meet The Joy School’s specific administrative and admissions procedures.

Pratt pointed out how automation has made a significant difference, too, particularly in managing communications and tracking the requirements of applicants. “We have rolling admissions, and students are applying and accepted at various times,” Pratt explained. “We need to tailor that communication, and what's really helped streamline that messaging is the automated emails that go to families.”

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That feature is particularly important for The Joy School, as the admissions office receives diagnostic testing from outside evaluators for every applicant, which gives them insight into their learning differences and what students need. 

"The automated checklist is very helpful because it makes it easy to track what's missing in an application and to assign tasks within the admissions committee."

The Results: Improved Efficiency and Time Management

The integration of Finalsite Enrollment has enhanced operational efficiencies and time management at The Joy School. Automation features and user-friendly interfaces have reduced the time spent on routine tasks, empowering the admissions staff to focus more on their main responsibilities. “What I'm doing to support families is represented in the data," Pratt said, "but my focus is building those relationships.”

inquiry form in laptop mockup

For The Joy School, inquiries may come from a structured parent tour, but Pratt and her team may also get a less formal phone call from an interested family.

“I can still fill out a form within the system, and the confirmation email gives families access, so I can get them in the system and enter my notes.”

“What’s life-changing is that for every applicant, I can see the emails sent chronologically, when they were contacted, my notes, and whoever else spoke to the family. We can see the journey and all the touch points for the family.”

“And then when I meet with the teachers to relay information about the family and review the file, it's very easy for me to access anything that came through conversations and the activity log.”

Enhanced Parent Experiences

Finalsite Enrollment has helped the admissions office, but it’s also transformed the enrollment experience for parents, making it much easier for them to navigate the application process. Pratt mentioned that the clarity for families helps them see what's missing and what's been submitted, streamlining everything.

"Admissions need to focus their time on developing relationships and welcoming new families into the community. There are enough stressors in everyday life, in addition to applying to a new school,” shared Pratt, adding that if families enter a system that’s not user-friendly, they might not return.

“With this system, families understand they can go in and visually see what they're missing from the checklist, like teacher and therapist recommendations. They can see what’s due and what’s been submitted; it’s allowing the families and us to focus on the child, versus worrying about tech and paperwork.”

Trust in Data and Reporting

With Finalsite Enrollment, The Joy School has also gained a higher level of trust in the accuracy and reliability of its data.

“Thinking back to when I was trying to transfer a student from an inquiry to an applicant, or an applicant to in-process, I would need a two-hour meeting, and support couldn't tell me how that flow worked,” Pratt said. “Now I can do everything myself, and I don't have to pull in IT or our database administrator. I can pull customized reports, inquiries, applications, and accepted students' data for admissions meetings in mere seconds.”

The Joy School’s website states that all children innately love to learn, but school isn't always a joyful place for those with learning differences. If the school can make the admissions process even that much easier, students can feel the joy of learning again.

Today, the school can efficiently target and engage prospective families, monitor the effectiveness of their strategies, and confidently make informed adjustments as needed. Pratt added, “Now, Finalsite is allowing us to implement a plan, and we can trust the data.”

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