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Managing Applicant / User Parameters


The Applicant/User Parameter tool is used to manage the data that helps classify applicants with standardized information fields.


Applies to: TDS17;TDS18


Additional Resources

The Applicant/User Parameter tool manages the data that helps classify applicants with standardized information fields. Many institutions integrate their Terra Dotta site with the institutional Student Information System (SIS) to automatically pull applicant information (such as major, GPA, and home address) from the institution's database. In many cases, the office needs to collect other data fields in addition to the SIS information. Applicant/User Parameters in Terra Dotta software store this type of data about the applicants, whether pulled from the SIS or collected only within the Terra Dotta site.

Settings > Applicant Params

There are two sections within Applicant/User Parameters:

  •  Applicant Parameters - all applicant information (excluding addresses)
  •  Applicant Addresses - all applicant address information
Important: Applicant/User Parameters that will be pulling information from the SIS should not be created under Settings > Applicant/User Params until the SIS integration project and mappings are complete. Applicant Addresses that will be pulling information from the SIS must be created under Settings > Applicant/User Params prior to the SIS integration project. This is explained in the integration documentation and the person leading the integration project should read the documentation and build the parameters accordingly.

Parameters that are not integrated with the SIS can be created at any time.

Creating a New Applicant/User Parameter
To create a new applicant/user parameter, perform the following steps. The settings/configurations all apply to SIS-mapped parameters as well as non SIS-mapped parameters:
1. Settings > Applicant/User Params > New Parameter. The New Parameters page is displayed.
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2.  Type the name of the new parameter into the Parameter Name field.
3.  Select a parameter type from the Parameter Type drop-down list box below it.
        The types of parameters are:

            Multiple Selection - This parameter type enables you to include multiple pre-defined options for this parameter. The applicant can select multiple values from a list of options for this parameter. If you select this parameter type, a Parameter Options section is displayed at the bottom of the page where you can enter the individual values. An example of a multiple selection parameter would be 'Allergies' and the applicant could possibly be allergic to grass, seafood, pollen and peanuts.

                To add options to the parameter:
1. Enter the value in the text box under Add Option.
2. Click Add. The option moves to the Selected area.

To remove an option from the list:
1. Select the option in the selected panel.
2. Click Remove One.
3. You can click Remove all to remove all the options from the parameter.

            Single Selection - This parameter type is similar to the Multiple Selection type, except that the applicant can select only one option. An example of a single selection parameter would be Class. The applicant is either a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior and would be able to select one option from a pre-defined list.

            Yes/No - This parameter type does not require additional information. An applicant can select either of the two options for the parameter. An example of a yes/no parameter would be 'Financial Aid student' - yes or no.

            Date - This parameter type provides a calendar widget from which applicants can select a date. An example of this is date of birth.

            Field - This parameter type provides an open blank text box for the applicants to fill in. Their data is not controlled for the sake of consistency, this information is reportable in the future but not query-able because there are no defined values. An example of this would be first name.

            Field: Validation - This parameter type functions in a similar way to the 'Field' type mentioned above. However, the word entered by the applicant must match the value set by the administrator in order to move past that page. This type of parameter can be used as a gate-keeping device to restrict online application access. An example of this would be if a particular program requires pre-approval from a faculty member, only students who were pre-approved and given the pass-phrase would know what value to enter for this parameter so they could access the application.

          Number - This parameter type will permit an applicant to enter a numeric value.

          File -This parameter type will permit an applicant to upload a file from their local drive to the system.

Data Lookup - This parameter type is used when your database requires a code or abbreviation, but you want the applicant to see option values expressed in plain English. For example, a drop-down list might display 'Argentina', but the corresponding value stored in the database would be 'AR'. Codes and abbreviations are often required in SIS exports and SEVIS reporting. To create or import Lookup Values for your site, go to Settings > Lookup Tables (see Value Lookup Tables for details).
Data Lookup w/Search - This parameter type functions like the Data Lookup with the addition of a keyword search box. The keyword search eliminates the need to scroll through extremely long drop-down lists. As the applicant starts entering the keyword, the drop-down list is populated with values that match the keyword. The applicant then selects a response from those results. As with the Data Lookup, the applicant will see option values expressed in plain English, but the corresponding code or abbreviation is stored in the database.

4. Type the description into the Parameter Glossary field. This enables applicants to click the name of a parameter and get further instructions and descriptions on what the parameter is and means.

5. Each parameter can be applied to either internal (applicants at this institution) or external (applicants outside this institution). In addition, when editing a parameter, if the parameter is an SIS mapped parameter, you will also be able to determine whether or not the data should be imported from the SIS datasource for each user type, or if it will be manually entered by the applicant type.

6. Select Yes or No for 'Applicant can view' to determine whether or not you want the applicant to be able to current the currently assigned value for the parameter when they view their profile

7. Select Yes or No for 'Applicant can edit' to determine whether or not you want the applicant to be able to change the current value of the parameter when they view their profile. (Note: Selecting 'YES' for an SIS-mapped parameter will not permit integrated users to edit the value - it will only be editable for non-integrated users). See our article on SIS-mapped parameters for more information.

8. Select Yes or No for 'Applies to Profile?' to determine whether or not the parameter should apply to ALL users regardless of the presence of applications assigned to their record.*See note below about program type specific applicant parameters. 

9. Select Yes in the 'Required before granting application access' field if this parameter is one that must be provided before the application is accessible. (more below - see "Required Applicant / User Parameters")

10. Select Yes in the 'Required for profile' field if this parameter is one that must be provided as part of the applicant's profile. The user will not be able to proceed into the site without completing this parameter, regardless of whether or not the user has an application. *See note below about program type specific applicant parameters. (more below - see "Required Applicant / User Parameters")

11. Select Yes or No to distinguish if the parameter will be displayed in unexpanded applicant profiles.

12. Select Yes or No to 'Enable in simple search'. Selecting yes will include the applicant parameter on the simple search screen. 

13. The Archive Schedule section can be used to determine if a record will be kept of how the parameter value changes over time. For example, an applicant's Major or GPA could change between the time they originally began an application and when they return from their program. By checking the box next to 'Track History,' all changes will be retained over time. This setting will track the change history over time for SIS-mapped parameters as well as non-SIS mapped parameters. 

If it is a SIS-mapped parameter, then you can also configure the site to take imprints at specific times during the application process for integrated applicants. This means that at the designated times the system will make a note of the value of the parameter regardless of whether or not the value changed. To configure this, check the boxes that correspond with the various times you would like an imprint to be taken. The options are: Start of Advising, Deadline Date, Decision Date, Program Start Date, and/or Return Date + the number of months determined in Settings > System Features > Applicants > SIS-mapped Parameter Data Refresh. Again, this is only possible for SIS-mapped parameters and the imprints will be for integrated applicants only. Non-integrated applicants who have manually entered this information will not get imprints.

Important Note: The imprints will be taken only for integrated users and only if the SIS Data Refresh task is configured to run. Look under Maintenance > Scheduled Tasks to ensure that this task is configured to run. If it is not the imprints will not be taken. Hosted/SaaS clients can open a support case and ask Terra Dotta to ensure this task is enabled for them. 

It is not necessary to use this feature for all applicant parameters. For example, Ethnicity will most likely not change over time, so there is no need to track the history for this parameter.

This setting will work from the time it is enabled into the future. There is not a way to go back and get the history of a parameter for applicants in the past.

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This profile has parameters (Major and GPA) displayed in an unexpanded profile, meaning these specific parameters will not be found in the collapsed view of the applicant's profile. To expand the applicant profile and view all applicant parameters click the (View All) link.

14. Click Add. The new parameter is listed in the Applicant Parameters page.

Note: The parameters mentioned above are examples. The actual parameters may be different for different universities.

Editing a Parameter : To edit a parameter, perform the following steps.
  •  Click the pencil icon located to the right of the parameter name. The Applicant Parameters: Edit page opens.
  •  Make the necessary changes in the fields.
  •  Click Update.
Deleting a Parameter : To delete a parameter, perform the following steps.
  •  Click the red 'X' located to the right of the parameter name. A dialog box appears, asking for you to confirm the action.
  •  Click Ok to proceed or Cancel to abort the action.

Note: You cannot delete a SIS (Applicant Information System) parameter. A lock icon located to the right of the parameter name indicates that it cannot be deleted.

Program Type Specific Applicant Parameters
Applicant parameters can be designated as program type specific by selecting "No" for both "Applies to profile" and "Required for profile". Once these two settings are no, you can configure the applicant parameter to be program type specific by navigating to Programs > Program Types > Select the pencil next to the program type you wish to edit > Move all of the desired applicant parameters from available to selected > Update. Note: This must be done on all program types if you are creating an applicant parameter that is program type specific. 

Reordering the Parameters
If you would like to change the order in which the parameters appear to applicants/users and admins, go to Settings > Applicant/User Params. Reorder using the numbers to the left side of the parameters > Select the "Re-order" button.

Adding New Applicant Address Type
To add a new applicant address type to the list, perform the following steps.

  1. Click the New Address tab located at the top of the page above the listings. The Applicant Parameters : Add Address Type page is displayed.
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  1. Type in the kind of address to add, to the Address Type field.
  2. Select Yes or No if the Latitude and Longitude look up is enabled. If you would like to use the Google Maps search results to see a map of where your applicant's are, the latitude/longitude must be enabled for the address you would like to see mapped.
  3. Select the address fields you want to include in the address type by selecting the check boxes provided.
  4. Click Add. The new address type is listed in the Applicant Address list in the Applicant Parameters page.
Required Applicant / User Parameters
If an applicant parameter is required, that means that the applicant will have to enter the information before they can proceed to their application page the first time they log in to your site or they will be prompted to enter the information the next time they login and land on the applicant home page. This is most useful if your site is not integrated with your SIS and therefore does not pull needed information automatically. 
To make a parameter required, go to Settings > Applicant Params. When creating a new parameter or editing an existing one, mark the radio button beside 'Yes' next to the question "Required before granting application access?" Similarly, you can mark 'Yes' next to the question 'Required for profile?' and applicants will complete the information the next time they land on the applicant home page, which may be after they've started an application.  
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If you do not see this option on your site, you must first perform the following steps: 
  1. Go to Settings > System Features.
  2. Check the 'Mandatory-entry Applicant Params' box.
  3. Click Save.
Now, when you go to create or edit an applicant parameter, you will see the option to make it required or not.
Note: There is a separate setting to determine if applicants who are starting an Advising Application will be required to enter applicant parameters or not. Under Process > Advising there is a checkbox at the bottom of the page to determine this.  If applicants are not required to submit the information when they begin an advising application, they will be required to do so once their application is switched to a program application.
Note: Required applicant parameters are linked to the applicant and not the application. This means that this information will be the same for the applicant regardless of how many applications they have in the system. For this reason they will only be required to provide the required information one time. After the information has been provided, the applicant will be able to begin as many new applications as permitted by your office, but will never be asked for the required parameters again.
Note: On the System Features page, you can determine if applicant parameters are required or not on a site-wide level. There is also a program level setting to determine if some programs will or will not require the information before accessing the application page. This setting is found on the Settings tab of the program builder.
A systematic check for incomplete mandatory applicant parameters is triggered when an applicant clicks on an application on the applicant home page or the applicant is automatically routed to an application page (most commonly after creating the application). If it is found that the applicant has not completed any mandatory-entry parameters, the software will then check both the global setting and the program-specific setting for that application's program to determine if entry is required. If it is, the applicant will be prompted to complete these parameters prior to continuing to their applicant page.
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