The Top 10 CRMs for Universities & Colleges: Tools for Managing Students, Marketing to Prospectives, and More

Elizabeth Lockwood

Colleges and universities might not consider CRM systems to be a solution for managing their needs. However, the modern higher education institution functions far more like a business than a school, thereby creating plenty of opportunity for the features of a modern CRM platform to not only do the job but to excel at it. 

Of course, a quick look at the available CRM solutions today can be dizzying, even for the business professional that’s experienced with these systems and seeking their best attributes. If you’ve never before considered this solution, how are you to find the one that’s right for your college or university? Typical CRMs focus on customer relationships and their use to improve sales—the translation is pretty simple. With a modern CRM, colleges and universities can:

  • Attract new students and increase enrollment.
  • Expand community involvement in various programs. 
  • Strengthen relationships with alumni, faculty, donors, and students.
  • Improve student engagement. 
  • Deliver the right information at the right time to students and prospective students.

The platforms available today offer a variety of solutions. While they each have their own features to consider, they are also going to share some basic fundamental elements. These include things like communication tools, categorization and grouping by role (student, faculty, alumnus, donor, etc.) and status or designation, marketing tools, admissions and analytics, cloud-based storage and syncing, and even secure document submission for online applications and paperwork processing. 

Schools today are competing harder than ever for fewer students. As more people consider alternative paths such as trades or non-college careers to avoid the mountain of student debt that so many are already facing, you’re fighting an uphill battle. (One way to strengthen your army is to add the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai to your team to assist with admissions intake, scheduling, and other student support.)

To help you find the ideal management solution for your college or university, we’ve picked through the platforms available today. We have investigated the various features and assembled the 10 best options for post-secondary organizations that need help managing the people side of their operation. 

Plus, many of these tools can be integrated with various messaging and AI chat services from Smith.ai to provide 24/7 online access for those contacting your college or university. 

SchoolMint logo

1. SchoolMint

Designed specifically for higher education, SchoolMint offers a robust higher education platform that’s fully customizable and offers mobile access via iOS and Android. The user-friendly dashboard makes for an easy learning curve, too. 

The company’s pricing information leaves something to be desired, but you’ll expect to spend at least $3,000 (the base price) on this system. The website is adamant about getting custom quotes to get an accurate cost. Nonetheless, it does offer plenty of useful features, including status changes for new and incoming students, acquisition source tracking, communications, and more. 

Although it serves all parts of CRM that your higher education institution needs, the main focus of SchoolMint is to boost enrollment by streamlining the process for students and parents. 

The key features of note with this CRM platform include:

  • Free Option? No
  • Price: Base price $3,000
  • SchoolFinder helps draw families and students to various programs and schools 
  • HIPPA, FERPA, and COPPA compliant with premium data security
  • Integrated tools to simplify applications and offers, including lottery management 
  • Access to Hero, the integrated student behavior management system
Salesforce logo

2. Salesforce Education Cloud

As one of the leading CRM solutions across all industries, Salesforce continues to shine when it comes to higher education. Thanks to Salesforce Education Cloud, several colleges and universities now have access to the dynamic, robust CRM leader that offers customizable solutions for all kinds of CRM needs. 

Salesforce Education Cloud features applicant source tracking, secure document submissions, integrated application management tools, 

With this platform, your higher education institution will be able to deliver a more streamlined experience for students, staff, and back office administration alike. 

When considering Salesforce, look at features like:

  • Free option? No, but a free basic trial is offered
  • Price: Starting at $36 per month
  • 360-degree view of every learner and applicant
  • Access to an online community of end-users and developers with 99% of questions answered within 24 hours
  • Integrations with other software and applications
  • Robust AI and analytics for everything from applicant tracking to alumni insights and beyond
HubSpot logo

3. HubSpot CRM

Although it’s not tailored to higher education, HubSpot CRM is one of the best tools available that’s also free to use. There are paid subscriptions and plans available, of course, but HubSpot offers their entire base package free of charge, for life, for everyone. 

The HubSpot platform is ideal for colleges and universities on a budget, or those who are just getting their feet wet with technology. It’s a great way to get in the door without making a huge financial or contractual commitment. Plus, it features great tools like scheduling, form generation, reporting and analytics, and more. 

HubSpot can help higher education by providing admissions and applicant analytics, student engagement statistics, and more. It streamlines operations by offering a centralized database of tools for managing higher education from the business side. 

The features of HubSpot to note are:

  • Free option? Yes
  • Price: Free, with paid plans available
  • User-friendly interface with almost no learning curve
  • Plenty of user-generated and customizable content, forms, and more
  • One of the most robust, feature-rich tools available for open use 
  • Advanced lead generation and tracking tools that are ideal for applicants and recruiting
Full Fabric logo

4. Full Fabric

Full Fabric is a dedicated higher education CRM tool that is designed to reimagine the student journey. The platform offers solutions for student and alumni management along with recruitment and admissions, with powerful interfaces and tools for each step in the student journey. 

Schools that integrate the Full Fabric platform will have access to a host of communication tools, as well as tools to manage course schedules and track attendance, an integrated student portal, and separate resources for staff and alumni. It also offers automation of critical tasks like lead capture and first contact and offers a simple, user-friendly UI. 

Full Fabric also offers event management tools, prospect qualification resources, and even alumni management tools and resources to provide full student lifecycle management. 

The best features of this dedicated education CRM include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Customized per client
  • Specifically designed for the unique needs of higher education
  • Mobile-optimized platforms are available
  • Advanced segmentation tools to qualify better leads
  • Integrates with other software platforms and technology
Radius logo

5. Radius by Campus Management

Radius by Campus Management starts with a rich application management solution that makes intake and recruiting easier than ever before. The platform also allows institutions to build stronger relationships with their students through online inquiries and case management tools. 

Radius includes digital application review and decision management tools, along with a student portal that helps applicants and students stay organized in their journey. The platform is specifically designed for admissions offices that want to work in the cloud with minimal IT assistance or involvement. 

In case Radius isn’t robust enough, the brand also has another platform known as CampusNexus Engage, an intelligent, high-end campus management solution. However, for smaller institutions, this platform is generally effective enough. 

The key highlights of the Radius CRM from Campus Management include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Contact for quote
  • Management of the entire admissions process from application to review
  • Communication via text messaging and chat are available
  • Dedicated resources for segmented groups and users
Maestro SIS logo

6. Maestro SIS

For those who want a well-orchestrated solution, Maestro SIS is an integrated CRM designed for higher education. This platform features rich student and faculty management tools, along with robust analytics and reporting.

Maestro also offers 400 parameters for tailoring solutions to every institution. The platform is web-based, flexible, scalable, and offers real-time analytics. It also integrates with several external third-party programs and platforms and offers single sign-on (SSO) and two-way data transfer. 

With Maestro SIS, degree audit, competency testing, tuition and billing programs, and even course management and student and parent portals are offered. 

The key benefits of using Maestro SIS to consider include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Requires custom quote
  • Integrated management of hierarchical organizations
  • Advanced tools for communications and admissions
  • Real-time reporting and analytics
  • School administration services
DecisionDesk logo

7. DecisionDesk

DecisionDesk is dedicated to streamlining the recruitment and application process for colleges and universities. The admissions and application processes often cost schools way too much valuable time and money. 

DecisionDesk is a more targeted platform than a general CRM, but it does afford a solution for institutions whose primary focus is on improving the application and recruitment process. It makes it easy to manage campus activities and operations from an integrated standpoint. 

Although it’s more basic, DecisionDesk does have a great solution for recruitment and the application process, and it can be combined with other tools for total campus management. 

Features of note with DecisionDesk include:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Contact vendor for a custom quote
  • Dedicated focus on streamlining the application process 
  • Customizable features and scalable platforms
  • Consolidates dozens of other programs and tools into a single platform
Freshworks logo

8. Freshworks CRM

Freshworks CRM features a robust database of CRM tools that can translate seamlessly to higher education. This responsive, user-friendly platform can be scaled to universities and institutions of all sizes. 

Although this is generally considered a more sales-focused CRM, what is a modern higher education institution if not a business? Freshworks offers sales and marketing integration for streamlined applicant tracking and recruiting, along with total lifecycle management for students, and more. 

This CRM includes integrations with calendars and other software platforms, allowing your college or university to streamline operations. 

The features of Freshworks that deserve a look include:

  • Free option? No, but there is a free trial
  • Price: Starts at $29 per month
  • Contact manager to make integrated contact management easy
  • Communication tools to reach students and applicants across multiple channels
  • Lead generation and qualifying tools for streamlined recruiting
Oracle NetSuite logo

9. Oracle NetSuite CRM

For robust campus management without a dedicated higher education platform, NetSuite CRM should be on every institution’s list. This platform features financial management, student and faculty management resources, event management, and a contact manager. 

The NetSuite CRM also offers robust lead generation and qualification tools to improve the application and recruiting process, along with email integration templates, customer support, and integrated CRM and sales dashboards. 

This cloud-based solution offers yearly subscription options that are scalable for institutions of all sizes and native iOS and Android apps are available. 

The features of note in NetSuite’s CRM:

  • Free option? No
  • Price: Starts at $99 per month
  • From Oracle, a leader in software solutions
  • Customizable, real-time analytics tools for recruitment, student management, and more
  • Integrated segmentation for students, alumni, applicants, and more
Embark Campus logo

10. Embark Campus

Embark Campus is only priced via custom quote because the company is committed to only providing flexible, accommodating solutions for each institution on an individual basis. It features an end-to-end online admissions program.

This software platform also has scalable solutions for managing every stage of the lifecycle of admissions and beyond. Inquiry forms can be customized and created, mobile engagement is available, and automated email scheduling is also offered. 

With Embark Campus, higher education institutions will have the chance to match branding, collect portfolios, safeguard data and accept documents, and even customize the entire journey for each student or applicant. 

The best features from this platform include:

  • Free Option? No
  • Price: Custom quote
  • User-friendly dashboard that’s fully customizable and scalable
  • Online document sharing and organization
  • High-level security 
  • Industry-leading best practices for higher education CRM

Integrate with Smith.ai to build the perfect solution

While we’ve covered a host of CRM solutions that should help streamline your operations and improve your engagement across all parties, when you partner with us, you can take things a step further. We can integrate our services directly with several of the platforms discussed above, providing solutions like:

Our goal is to help take your higher education institution to the highest level of satisfaction in all regards, including with students, alumni, faculty, and even the community. By integrating your CRM and the virtual receptionist and messaging services from Smith.ai, you’ll be able to streamline student management, admissions, faculty management, and more. 

Plus, scheduling and form processing has never been easier than with these integrated platforms. Students will have instant access to the resources that they need and your organization will become a well-oiled machine that sees improved operations and enrollment rates, among other things. 

If you’re ready to learn more or schedule your consultation, contact the team at Smith.ai today by emailing hello@smith.ai. You can also reach us via phone if you prefer, at (650) 727-6484. You can find information on our various plans and features on our Pricing and Plans page.

Elizabeth Lockwood

Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at Smith.ai. She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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