Great all-in-one SIS
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.
A solid, straightforward choice for higher-education relationship management
Populi is a terrific platform for integrating various data silos across your organization. We moved from a number of different databases into Populi recently, and the combination of all of our information in one place has streamlined our communication process with incoming students and allowed us to more easily collaborate in helping students through processes like enrollment and financial aid. We've struggled with finding some features at times, and in the case of marketing automation, we've discovered that Populi's system isn't quite fully-featured enough for our needs. The UI, also, has a dated feel. Nevertheless, it's a solid, stable platform that gives us integrated access to our contacts.
Populi is very straightforward, and makes it relatively easy to manage a high number of complex relationships with contacts
Tracking a contact from first inquiry through to alumni donor is very simple
Contacting contacts directly from within Populi works more smoothly than the communication platforms on some competitors
Support is extremely useful and quick
The automation platform is time-based and lacks some of the triggers and sophistication available in competitors
Some features are hidden inside of layers behind the straightforward UI, and it can be frustrating to track them down
Sometimes, a seemingly simple feature will be missing, and require extensive conversations with support. Support is top-notch and very helpful, but it can be annoying if you prefer to do things yourself.
You get what you pay for and perhaps a little less!
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.
Response from Populi
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
Why did we wait so long?
Our company has had no one who wishes we could go back to the way it was before Populi. Support has been consistently helpful, patient, and nearly always impressively prompt. I think it would be true to say we have never enjoyed this level of qualified, friendly support from any other software vendor.
It is clearly designed for our industry - most of the features we might like it turns out are already in place. It is so great to have student records, financial records, academic catalog info, communications, and even recruitment working in the same integrated environment.
Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to select the exact dataset we are interested in finding, or to create reports that would be useful to us. I think we can expect this with any software not custom-designed for our company. It is also true that by exporting data, we ca work with it in other software to get where we want to go . . . it can be just a bit long-handled sometimes.
Best SIS system for smaller colleges that we have used
We couldn't be happier. Our sales contact gave us multiple demos of the different modules, trained us and was there for us during every step of the implementation. Everything was done remotely but it works well and there is no additional cost, which is extraordinary. I have helped implement three different SIS systems and the data transfer to Populi was the most efficient and painless I have experienced. The customer support is responsive and goes above and beyond what I expected. Overall they seem to really care about our success and we enjoy working with them.
It's designed by people who obviously understand the needs of a higher education institution. It is easy to use, intuitive, flexible and fast. You don't have to find ways to work-around problem areas, it just works amazingly well. The integrated LMS is smooth and very capable. The integration of the different modules e.g. student billing and financial aid, is seamless. The customer support is amazing. The implementation costs are next to zero.
It is designed to be simple to use so reporting and security permissions are not as flexible as our previous system. We have adapted to that though because the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. The customer support team also run customized reports for us when we need them and they are constantly making improvements to the system.
Easy to use but watch out for formatting
Populi seems to be an overall better experience than Canvas both from the user standpoint and the administrator standpoint. It is nice having all of the information I need for my classes right at my fingertips.
Populi has an app which ensures that I do not miss any comments or messages from my professors. It makes it easy to review my grades and keep track of my progress. I also can download the current syllabus on to my phone to access whenever needed.
The only drawback to Populi is the process of reviewing papers after the professors have commented on them. It isn't that big of a deal, but one has to login to the website in order to see the comments and recommendations. It would make it a little bit more convenient to be able to access this feature in the app.
There has also been times when the footnote formatting somehow was changed changed during the upload process. I let my professors know about the issue just in case it happens again.
Populi works great for our Montessori training programs
We use Populi as a database for our prospective and current students, alumni, workshop attendees, donors, and general community members. We use it for marketing of events and courses, overall communications with our leads and community. We also use it to manage the academic requirements and assignments of our current students. It has overall streamlined the process of review of student work, communication and discussion between faculty and students, among students, and allowed us to consider distance learning models for our upcoming courses. Overall, the experience has been great!
Populi is very customizable, with great options to optimize its many functions for our unique organization. The developers and staff at Populi are extremely responsive and helpful, responding quickly and thoroughly to all of our many questions and requests.
As with any system, there are times when we run into functionalities that we would like and do not yet exist. I do feel like Populi is responsive and makes improvements based on features requests whenever possible.
A Jack of all Trades for Education Management
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)
Thankful for Populi
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.
This has worked well for us
Populi provides a solid solution for online learning
Overall Populi has been a very solid product for e-learning. Although it is not an elegant or beautiful UX, it gets the job done and would be a fine solution for any online learning needs.
Populi is a stable and decently feature rich platform of online learning. They offer the ability to create online lessons, quizzes, tests, embed videos, upload assignments, creature student and teacher profiles, line to resources, and nearly any other feature you may need for an online platform.
Compared to some competitors however, Populi is limited. It is does have a bit of a learning curve, the overall aesthetics are plain and lacking, it can be cumbersome to locate assignments or documents if the professor has not uploaded them in the right spot, and there is a user fee that must be paid by the institution (not directly by the user).
Great for small institutions
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.
Gets the Job Done
Populi does everything we need it to do, where in the past we've had to use multiple programs for grading, attendance, and messaging. It does seem a bit basic and simple, but it gets the job done.
Populi has the ability to log grades, take automatic attendance via bluetooth, send school-wide messages and emails, as well as host online content like quizzes and discussions. It has all the essential tools at your disposal.
The user interface in Populi doesn't appear very streamlined or modern. It leaves a bit to be desired in terms of streamlining student profiles and their ability to interact on the platform.
Populi is simple, elegant, secure, intuitive, with comprehensive features and well documented.
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.
Response from Populi
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!
Overall it is an excellent product and serves us well.
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.
Full-featured SIS for small colleges
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.
Solid solution for small/medium schools
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.
Overall I liked using Populi. It made doing school from a distance very convenient.
I think populi did a great job making their interface super easy to access and basic. It was easy to distinguish where the main pages were located.
The design of populi, though it didn't enhance the product, was very basic and could have used a makeover. But the software itself had little issues in my opinion.
Populi is a good system for our school's needs.
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.
User Friendly - Great Customer Service
So grateful for such effective software. Not only is Populi user-friendly and easy to navigate, but the level of customer service is unmatched. Pre-set reports are such a time-saver, and I'm loving all the new training videos/webinars. Would recommend this product!
Honestly, nothing significant enough to mention.
Populi Support is top-notch
Populi is straight-forward in it's functionality and use. It is intuitive, which is a great help to new users. The integration between G-Suite, Populi, and Canvas with Single Sign-On works great. The customer support before and after implementation has been truly exceptional.
There are some limitations with email templates and financial/billing functions, but these have been minor limitations.
Best Decision We Ever Made
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.
Decent tool in Online learning
Populi has good qualities for registration, communication, and finance. You have to have an internet connection for the lecture files as they are not downloadable audio/video. Would be nice if they added more controls for the notifications within a class discussion.
And icons - we are past the DOS era
Being able to interact with others in an online class is important. The interaction aids the learning in asynchronous classes
The special coding required to format text is cumbersome. Instead of the traditional format icons, you must use character references. For example, to superscript you must use the ^ before and after the word. Same is true for italics or bold, just different indicators.
A great tool for colleges
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.
I'd give 6 stars if possible
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.