Product Update: Reference & Report Writing

Time management.

For both students and teachers alike, these two words can often be synonymous with stress and uncertainty, especially when it comes to the university decision making and application process. 

If you’re a student, you may feel the pressure of teachers and parents reminding you that poor time management could cost you a treasured university place. If you’re a university or careers adviser/counsellor, or a teacher, then time management means dealing with the pressure of co-ordinating multiple subject reports and references, whilst, in some cases, continuing to deliver an already full time school curriculum.

That’s why almost every product update on our roadmap for the year thus far has been guided by the principle that there’s always more we can be doing to make time management that little bit easier, for students and advisors alike.

If you read our last product update, you’ll know that one of BridgeU’s priorities for the first half of 2018 has been to further improve the report and reference writing tools on the platform, making the guidance process that much more streamlined for teaching staff.

The product updates we’re rolling out are in response to a number of pieces of customer feedback we’ve received with regards to the perceived complexity of some aspects of the platform. These included:

Subject reports – some of your feedback has told us that the process of assigning teachers subject reports can be repetitive and time-consuming.

Tracking progress – some of you have indicated that the process of tracking the progress of teacher subject reports has proven too complex in the current version of the platform, especially for university advisors with lots of staff members and teachers to oversee.

So scroll down to read more about what we’ve been up to…

Reference Letter Menu

Our first edit is a simple one – making it easier to navigate your way to the reference letter section of the platform. 

So we’ve moved the “reference letter” link from its original place in the sub-menu, so that it now sits in the menu under “All Student Tasks” (the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted a preview of this change in our last Product Update post). 

The benefit for students and teachers? Bringing reference letters under the remit of “student tasks” further centralises and clarifies the platform’s core functions for members of staff at your school

Reference Letter Filters 

In our previous product update, we began to outline some of the changes to the Reference Letter filters, better enabling teachers and relevant career development staff at your school to gain a more immediate insight into the students and subject reports that are directly relevant to them.

We’ve made the filtering process more intelligent, which means that the overall process of managing reference letters is that bit easier.

Let’s dig a little deeper and take a look at how the new changes to the platform can streamline your reference writing process.

Bespoke filtering

The new “Reference Letter” tab replaces the old “All Students” and “Your Students” tabs. This new tab comes with bespoke filters, allowing you to sort your students by whatever criteria you see fit. 

For example, you could now quickly and easily filter students who may be (a) graduating in 2018 (b) has been inactive on BridgeU in the past week (c) has shortlisted the UK as a destination and (d) is also applying to Oxford or Cambridge. This allows key members of staff to take a more proactive approach in managing both students and colleagues involved in the university application process. 

BridgeU remembers your defaults

As we discussed at the beginning of this post, university application project management will often have to compete alongside a range of other commitments and responsibilities during the school day.

So not only have we created more bespoke filters for your students, we’ve also redesigned the platform so that any filters you use can be automatically saved as your default view upon logging back in. So when you visit a page that supports the filters – currently either the student page or reference letters page, your default view will be enabled.

Sometimes it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference. Saving your defaults can save valuable time, ease multi-tasking, and is another important step in helping to minimise your staff’s administrative burdens. 

Track report writing progress

If you once again look at the screenshot above, next to the “Reference Letters” tab you will now see a second tab entitled “Your Reports”. This feature allows teachers to keep track of reports that they have been asked to write in a single place. Reports are listed as either “Pending” or “Submitted”, meaning that you can see the full array of current and historical reports.

Reference letter editing

Our changes to the reference letter editing tool now allows staff members across faculties to more easily share and request information about students’ academic performance. Here’s how…

Access up-to-date info on predicted grades

Our new predicted grades section comes pre-populated with the subjects which will be mentioned in a given students’ report. In making this change, it’s now easier for other members of staff in your school to easily give their input on predicted grades. This allows members of staff tasked with writing reference letters to quickly get hold of the most up-to-date information about students’ academic performance from colleagues when they need it. 

Check on report status 

The reports tab allows careers advisers overseeing the reference writing process to see both pending and submitted reports.

Request subject reports with greater ease 

Finally, the member of staff in your school who is ultimately responsible for coordinating applications can now specify which subject they need a report producing for. This is enabled through the “Manage Report Writers” tab in the top left corner of the reference editing screen.

If you take a look around the “Manage Report Writers” feature you should be able to see two dropdown menus, which will allow you to both assign a report writer and search for the relevant subject area for that report.

That’s all for now, but we hope you’ll find these changes to be useful time-savers for your staff and students.

In addition, the reference and report writing changes in our current product roadmap will continue to make BridgeU’s processes more transparent and data driven, meaning that your school has a better overview of application outcomes and guidances processes in the long term. 

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