The Best Attendance Method for Career Institutes, Ranked

The Best Attendance Method for Career Institutes, Ranked

The Best Attendance Method for Career Institutes, Ranked

From software to time clocks, these are the best attendance methods for career institutes, ranked. 


Career colleges are innovators in their field, educating future essential workers on the latest and greatest in trade technology. Technology has changed drastically over the last 20 years and career colleges have adapted to teach their students new/relevant skills necessary to stay competitive in the evolving job market. Why then, has the way career colleges managed attendance not changed alongside? Why, then, has the way career colleges manage attendance not changed? 


Many career institutes still rely on fragmented operations that combine an SIS with a manual attendance system like biometric scanners, paper sign-ins, or traditional roll calls. While some of these solutions may seem labor and cost-effective, they could be impacting your bottom line in more ways than one. 


Below are the best attendance methods for your career institute ranked to factor in cost, administrative burden, student success, and more. 

1. The Best Attendance Method for Career Institutes: Software with a Mobile App

The best attendance solution for career colleges is software with a mobile app that automates manual data entry. Even in a small school, spending just 2 minutes per day per student on data entry can add up quickly. When students check in and out on their mobile devices and their data is automatically transferred into the SIS, administrators have time to focus on higher-value tasks like retention and compliance. 


Software-based attendance solutions, like CourseKey, provide robust compliance and retention reporting, including a real-time report of absent students, adjustment summaries, and more. Real-time reporting allows administrators to intervene with at-risk students faster or immediately begin the Return to Title IV process if retention is impossible. In addition, mobile attendance software works in multiple environments—classrooms, externships, clinical, and online synchronous/asynchronous—to support the most up-to-date view into LDA daily. 


Finally, students are mobile-first and prefer the technology they interact with to be mobile-first too. Because students must check in using their devices with a Face/Fingerprint ID, QR-code, or another secure attendance technology, administrators have peace of mind knowing that attendance data is accurate and audit-ready. 


While software may appear more expensive initially, it is the best solution to maximize employee time while supporting retention, compliance, and student success.

2. Biometric Scanners

The pros of biometric scanners? Like the spy movies taught us, biometric scanners are an extremely secure solution, and auditors know that the student who checked in is the student enrolled in the course. But, unfortunately, the pros end there. 


While some biometric scanners will automatically transfer data from the scanner into cloud-based software, they may not transfer it directly into the SIS. Administrators are left with the time-consuming job of entering the data manually, which is prone to human error. While human error may be acceptable in some industries, auditors are less likely to take human error as an excuse for incorrect attendance data. 


Biometric scanners also don’t provide clear reporting dashboards to help spot compliance and retention concerns. Administrators have no view into whether or not an at-risk student was in class until the data is in the SIS, and it’s difficult to spot poor compliance trends, like if an instructor is consistently ending class early. 


Additionally, biometric scanners simply don’t provide a positive student experience. Students don’t want to wait in line at the end of class just to check out, possibly making them late for a bus or to pick up their child from care. Plus, if 2020 taught us anything, shared surfaces are not ideal.

3. Scanner Cards or Wristbands

The same data entry issues that plague biometric scanners also plague other hardware solutions. Hardware requires extensive time and upkeep, unlike software which can be implemented in as little as two weeks depending on your school’s size. With scanner cards and wristbands, administrators must spend the beginning of every program preparing these devices. And students can absolutely be trusted not to lose track of those, right? They can also be trusted not to hand off their card or wristband to their friend, right? We can only dream. 


In addition to student verification issues, when hardware breaks down, your school is stuck waiting for company maintenance to come and diagnose the problem. With software, bug fixes can happen remotely, without waiting for a repair person to fix the problem during business hours and disrupting your school.

4. An Out-of-Industry Solution

We’ve seen a lot of career colleges use software built for other industries. Best case, the software is built for higher education. Worst case, the software is closer to an employee time clock than an attendance solution. While out-of-industry solutions may include more automation than biometric scanners, hardware, or time clocks, they aren’t built with the unique career college compliance considerations in mind and force admins to adopt tedious workarounds.

5. Pen and Paper or Roll Call

It’s probably not surprising that paper and pen attendance has the highest administrative burden, but it may be surprising to learn that it’s one of the more costly solutions. Think about it this way: 

  • How many students do you lose due to late intervention using a paper-based attendance solution? Could you save more with earlier intervention? 
  • Could the time administrators spend on manual data entry be spent more productively? 
  • If you’ve had findings due to inaccurate records or students gaming the system, how much were those fees? 
  • How much are you spending on paper and paper storage? 


For administrators, even acquiring paper roll sheets from instructors is a pain. Sometimes it takes days to get a paper sheet from instructors, delaying intervention with at-risk students and the Return to Title IV process.

A Career Institute Attendance Method That Works for Everyone

Students will inevitably forget to clock out or have a time discrepancy with every solution. When schools aren’t using a cloud-based solution that allows instructors to edit time on any device, fixing student time adds up and is easier said than done. We’ve seen some schools where instructors have to trade off time adjusting the data in a shared computer. What could your administrator be doing if they weren’t building a schedule for instructor time-edits?


With a cloud-based software solution, instructors can edit time on their own time. Plus, administrators have a clear view into edited time with a reason behind the edits for audit-ready data. 

Your students and staff deserve the best. And when it comes to a daily process like managing attendance, a high-quality solution will transform your organization.


If you’d like to learn how to automate attendance, create a clear audit trail, and improve visibility into LDA across any learning environment request a demo of the CourseKey platform below.

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