This product was in place when I arrived in my role supporting it. It seems to be the choice of many smaller (< 300 student) post-secondary schools. It has served us well for tracking student records but there are lots of little annoyances that cause us to adjust our workflows in order to use the product. It would seem if you had no processes in place and wanted to follow their recommended ones, it would suit you well.
- Web based
- Easy to use
- API offers advanced access to data
- Customer service is responsive (the CEO often replies to requests)
- Tries to do too much - It handles Student Information well, but our finance department doesn't prefer it and our Faculty use it for tracking marks, but don't particularly like it as an LMS
- Data exports are limited - I had to code an application in PHP to work with the API to get enrolment information out in a usable format
- Roles are not customizable - We have student call teams who can only access basic contact details if we give them a staff role (which gives them too much access)
Bethlehem College and Seminary is a small Christian college which sprung from Bethlehem Baptist Church and the preaching of John Piper. For over 10 years, Bethlehem Baptist had a non-degree granting institution. In 2009, after John Piper encouraged the leadership to launch a seminary, we realized that managing student data and finances would be critical. This began a search for low cost college management software that was designed for school with less than 500 students.
In 2009, there were few options. In addition to low cost and designed for small schools, we wanted a web-based solutions, because we did not have the resources or personnel to run our own servers. In addition, we are an Apple shop, and most all college management software ran on Windows servers.
Then we discovered Populi. With a flat monthly rate and a low per student monthly rate, Populi fit our financial model. In addition, Populi was web-based. This meant that we did not need to purchase any additional hardware, and all of our staff, faculty, and students were able to access the software without any additional client side software besides a web browser.
The Populi staff worked hard to help us transition our Excel files of student data into their database. They answered the phone in person and assisted us with all of our configuration. The website was simple enough that we learned on the fly. With any new venture, there are bumps and hiccups along the way, but we were able to work through those.
Over the last 5 years, we have grown at nearly 25% per year. Populi has seamlessly grown with us. They continue to improve the product and provide additional services, and so far, have not raised the price.
One recent improvement was additional Admissions applications. Since we are both a college and seminary, it was very important for us to have two different application processes. This solved a lot of headaches for us.
Five years later, this school is still very thankful for Populi.
Even though, I had some trouble with pulling data previously with customer support we had overcome most of the obstacles. I believe with right training the program can accommodate most of our needs as small institution. I highly recommend populi to small institutions like us with an advise to inquire and receive proper training when you initial start using it. Don't hesitate to ask for training and make sure to allow your staff a time for training.
Accommodates small institutions with very reasonable pricing.
Customer support is very responsive to inquiries.
Learning how to use efficiently needs a proper training by Populi expert.
It is difficult to learn by self training through videos and tips.
It is difficult to say; documentation is exhaustive and the product is very well crafted and incredibly intuitive, but perhaps customer support is probably one of the best I have ever experienced!
With Populi, you can manually request a backup of the complete database on a daily basis, which generates and lets you download a CSV file with all the data, which is a nice feature, but I really miss the ability to schedule it on a regular basis and perhaps have it transferred to a secondary cloud storage.
Thanks for the feedback, Alfredo! One note - you can schedule/automate backups using the API. We will consider making that an option without having to make use of the API. Thanks!
It keeps improving and is more useful today than it was when we bought in (2011). They listen to feature requests from the users and try to accommodate. Service is prompt and helpful. They fix things or educate in how to use the software. The back up and reporting features are very helpful when we need to back track to find an issue.
Searching for something in help could be improved. It seems that sometimes you have to do a fair amount of searching to find the relevant page.
We've been working with Populi for about 10 months at a small liberal arts college in Shanghai, China, and we've found it remarkably full-featured; its suite of tools -- it handles everything from online registration to interactive course shells to finances/student billing -- offers more than we're even using. Access to the system is based on user-roles, with roles ranging from student through system admin. Because it's web-based, it works anywhere (including in China) on a variety of browsers (we've used Firefox, Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Midori).
I could go on. To get a sense of everything Populi has to offer, it's worth visiting their site. Before we started working with Populi, I researched traditional SIS systems and software, and learned that we'd never be able to afford it for a program our size. Populi is designed for colleges like ours, and the pricing is reasonable and scaled to institution size. Frankly, I it's hard to believe what we get for the money.
There are few drawbacks to using Populi that aren't common to other SIS systems. Among these, role-based access means that non-advising faculty aren't able easily to view course listings for a given term, for example. And few users have access to the full course catalog within the system. However, it's easy to export any of these sorts of things for sharing. More importantly, the user forums provide a place for feature requests, and these are often implemented, as the process of building and improving the system appears to be earnest and ongoing.
Finally, customer service has been great. We've made a few mistakes -- most recently, I managed to delete several months worth of teaching evaluations -- that the support team at Populi were able to help us recover from very quickly.
This solution is smartly designed and offers all of the tools necessary to operate a small or medium sized school. We have about 300 active students in our system, at multiple campuses, with both online/residential students, and Populi can handle our needs well. A few features are lacking that would be of interest to larger schools, such as an integration that will allow batch processing for our F1 students in SEVIS, or in-depth form builders, but the core functionality is certainly there.
Good and reasonable pricing, well designed, easy to use, and excellent support.
There are a few features that we would appreciate, such as the ability to use the built-in video hosting without having such a high degradation of quality, but overall our experience has been positive.
This software is very intuitive, and staff, faculty and students have gotten completely up to speed in a very short period of time. Being hosted on the web means students and staff can log in from anywhere with any device and backups are taken care of automatically. The built in LMS features are really robust and have eliminated the need for google classroom, survey monkey, and other fixes we had been using.
I am also very impressed with the built in reporting; there are preset reports for clearinghouse, IPEDS, retention etc.. and the ad-hoc reporting tool allows for almost unlimited custom reporting.
The support staff team are very kind and responsive, and the data conversion from our old system was virtually painless. When searching for a new SIS we interviewed over 8 firms and are very glad we settled on Populi.
There are very few things we have found that we wanted that the system was not already set up to do, but for these you can always suggest product enhancements to the support team.
I enjoy the communications area. I find it very helpful for student contact. I REALLY like being able to use the Populi Dropbox to post emails from other sources to the students' records.
I'm still learning how to use Populi's finer points, which has been a challenge without the former user still on our property. However, Populi support is always helpful.
Increased data reporting functionality and low cost.
It packs everything into a cost effective manageable solution for small to medium colleges. Student records, Billing, Financial Aid, Course Evaluations, Communications, Discipline, emergency text messaging, online course management, Library, Bookstore, Registration, and so much more.
That is very hard to say. I think the assignment grade release settings could be more granular.
Giving approved incompletes could be refined more.
The software itself works great for our information and data retrieval.
This software works great to collect data and information and also take in information on surveys, or applications. Really it has a plethora of uses.
Their billing system is a little off on when they invoice you.
We've been using Populi since 2013. When we started a new school, we searched for an affordable college management solution that can offer an integrated solution for our basic needs such as admissions, financials, library etc. Populi was our decision and we are extremely satisfied with the product. I used a number of similar software as a student, and I don't know as an administrator's perspective but in a student's perspective I think Populi is the easiest to use. The design is very clean and modern. I think the young students want to see stuff in a particular way. Redundancy is a big turn off. It's hard to explain but for example people don't want to click save for every step of their admissions. It's like these subtle thinks that you don't really think about but when you see it you makes you pleased. The designers at Populi does that. Mobile app is available and
Customer support is phenomenal. They answer fast and answer good, with screen shots and all. Fast and to the point. They listen. The users can request new features and see them getting worked on and implemented. Some users may find some features missing or hard to use and I understand that. But I can always say that, from my personal experience , the support team is there to help.
Pros: Customer support, price, design, extent of features, ease of use, frequent updates for new features.
Cons: Nothing that I can think of.
Moving our Student management to Populi was the best decision for our small graduate school. Pricing is scaled to size. It is feature rich and has quickly become the center of our universe. The Populi support team was with us from day one. They converted all of our data and we have never looked back. The data reporting features are flexible and easy to use. This is the best decision we ever made.
This system was specifically designed with small to medium colleges in mind and it shows.
We have loved Populi from the very beginning. Great program. Great support. Great choice for all your LMS and SIS needs.
Integration of the LMS and SIS. Ease of use. Video tutorials are great...keeps me from having to make them myself.
Waiting for a plagiarism integration.
The customer service and ease of use with setting up programs on our website has been tremendous. We can have settings however we want them .
We don't have any complaints for this software. It has been working great the couple of years we have used it.
This saves my time, labor, and energy. Overall, I am satisfied with this software.
The two major uses of this software in my institution are managing student's academic progress and student's financial status. The simple feature of the program allows students to easily access their own account and manage those. And how the program presents the contents is also clean and easy-to-look; this is much better then the old program. Students wouldn't miss the critical dates for their academic progress and payments.
Also there are some aspects that helps communication between registrar office and students. Dashboard has "Alerts" "The Feed" "Events." And moreover, there is another tab next to dashboard tab, that is, To-dos. This shows the tasks that are assigned to individuals. So the combination of the dashboard features and To-do lists make communication really easy.
Well it is hard to find a particular part that I do not like. May be some other staffs from different department could find a feature they don't like. But for my use, this program is very well made.
Easy to register, add students, course scheduling. Fast customer service however, not very satisfying responds.
It is not user friendly, very difficult to customize features. Even sending emails to selected students is a hassle. Adding meeting times to courses is awfully difficult and annoying. If you are a new, small institution and need statistics / have to be able to pull out a data any minute when requested I would not recommend this product. Our application information wasn't transferring to system and we found out after customer service that our application was not set right. The reason for that is Populi updated their admissions feature a while ago but our applications were not adopted to new system. So I had to enter age, gender, address, email etc manually for the each student in the system to be able to have an accurate data. No help offered for an error caused by their own management system! Again reporting features lack accuracy and not customizable.
For accreditation purposes I found this system not reliable, I will start looking for alternatives.
Hi Ozlen, I didn't realize how frustrated you were after our conversation yesterday! My apologies.
I don't remember discussing your difficulties emailing students or adding meeting times. I'd be happy to hop back on the phone to go over that with you!
Regarding applications, its true that we updated admissions a couple of years ago and released a bunch of new features. Applications that were set up before that time have to be tweaked to take advantage of the new features, but I'd be happy to schedule a time to work through that with you. I think there were only a few fields that needed to be tweaked, but lets set up a time and we can make sure its good to go!
Again, I'm sorry that you've had a frustrating experience. We'll be in touch to see if we can win back your loyalty!
Isaac Grauke, CEO
I have been using school management systems since at least 1992 and course management systems since 1995. Well over 20 years of a dozen different systems, including all of the big names.
I just wanted to formally express my delight with Populi.
I really believe that on balance, this is the best product I have ever used. It may not be as powerful and have the same smooth work flow as the major players, but for a small school with a limited budget . . . can't be beat. The school system side of the program is effective and has handled every need of our very small college and the ease of making transcripts has greatly lessened the work in my office. Populi really shines for course management and even our reluctant faculty have been able to benefit from the grading, assignment and attendance mods. We have a few faculty who have fully employed the Populi lessons section to make both blended and online courses. I have used it for both and the scope of `instructor variation' is ideal. The learning platform is complete, without being excessively demanding.
I am very, very impressed with the product. I actually enjoy using it for my classes.
I have been using the system for 3 years now and it keeps getting better and better. I liked it from the beginning and it just keeps improving. The developers listen to their customers and add tools that make our life easier. The response time for questions or help is outstanding. There are many learning tutorials in the help section with instructions and videos to assist in the process of learning the system. When it comes to reporting, I find it saves hours when compiling IPEDS data. This year the reporting section was improved to the extent, it cut my research time in half.
There are parts that I do not utilize like financial aid only because we utilize a third party service.
End of the year 1098 T's are at my finger tips. I export the information in to excel. I have not figured out how to split the total tuition paid for those receiving Financial aid and 50% VA benefits that aren't reported on the 1098 T. Maybe being able to edit the totals would be helpful.
Would I recommend Populi to other schools? Yes, I cant see operating without it. The more I use it the better it is.
Overall this system is very good. We haven't even seen its full potential yet and already very happy with the product. It is a huge improvement over our past system. I see us happy with this for years, particularly when we know the future features to be added.
The product is easy to use and intuitive.There is much room for continued growth both within our company and our ability to utilize all that populi will be able to do in the future. I am looking forward to the online applications and financial feature. Student access is wonderful as well.
The product sometimes seems more tied to a business information system that an educational system. The drop down menus get old quickly and are tedious to use particularly when entering dates and state information. It would be nice to have text boxes that pick up as soon as you begin typing.
We switched over to Populi after using a different software for years. Populi makes it really easy to create transcripts and make sure students are on track to graduate. It's great that we can integrate many different components (grades, discipline, housing, finance, etc.) in one location. It makes obtaining information quick and easy. The different roles are great for controlling who has access to what information.
Also, customer service has been amazing! Phone calls help because they can see what we see on our screen, which minimizes confusion. Even if we email or submit a request online, we get responses within 24 hours. Their staff is really helpful. Their online tutorials are great as well and they've even reached out to us to do demos.
I had the pleasure of working with Populi for five years when I worked at a small private college. We were looking for cost-effective college management software that fit our needs. Once we found Populi, we knew we had found the right solution. The user interface is intuitive and well thought out. Students, faculty, and administrators love Populi. It does everything a small college requires and a whole lot more (online courses, academic records, online tuition payments, library, bookstore, etc....). If something didn't work right, or there were features missing, Populi was very good at listening, and often incorporated feature requests into future releases. In my opinion, the best thing about Populi is working with the Populi staff. They are very responsive and a pleasure to work with.
Excellent Customer Service. Staff very helpful and resolve issues promptly.
Support staff very knowledgable about the product.
Ease of use and confidence that the company stands behind their product and ready to assist the suer.
Tailored for the small school, Populi is very intuitive. They have worked hard to think through typical issues of the user. Almost any question I have had as an administrator was easily addressed in the Knowledge Base. And the few times when I could not find something, the support staff was there with a ready response.
There is not much guidance for faculty. This deficit is not an issue for younger members who are accustomed to intuitive navigation of new websites. For older faculty, however, this is a stumbling block. That having been said, Populi support staff are willing to do video overview training.
An amazing product that shows amazing maturity for it's age. I would put it up against any of the big dogs on the market.
- Great people to work with. Always quick to find a solution.
- This software has all the major components already included to help keep schools running smoothly.
- It's a hosted solution so there is no IT costs on us.
- They are always adding functionality
They are still new to the scene so it's not robust. Things like templating , help documentation, and customer customization are still missing. The customer support people will bend over backwards to do these things for you though so it's not a deal breaker.