“It’s almost like having an assistant.”

The counselor's best friend

An endless stream of administrative tasks is the bane of many an educational professional, and counselors have it harder than most. Ang says that since she started using Cialfo, it has drastically cut her admin burden, saving time and relieving pressure.

“I just find things easier through Cialfo. It lifts a number of pressures from you. It becomes your companion. It’s almost like having an assistant.”

It helps her in her interactions with students, she adds. As well as helping students to narrow down their choices, Cialfo’s longlist and shortlist features also help her to remember which universities she has talked about with which student.

Cialfo, in particular the Reports feature that saves her a lot of time, also helps in her communication  with upper management, “We pulled out our report and it looked so sophisticated,” she says. “Every year our office needs to create a report for our head of school and principals, and it takes us hours if not days to consolidate all the details and come up with the statistics they want. This feature is so helpful.”

Additionally, Cialfo also ensures seamless interactions with universities all over the world, introducing some much-needed efficiency and reliability into the application process. “We appreciate that there are no hiccups when it comes to sending documents,” she says. “It was such a relief this year. For so many years, we’ve had all sorts of problems with document sending. This year no one has complained to us. It’s incredibly helpful that none of the universities say: we cannot find these documents.”

Buy-in also comes from students and teachers

Students at Sekolah Pelita Harapan
Students at Sekolah Pelita Harapan

Cialfo has proved equally popular with her students, says Ang, who describes it as more user-friendly than other platforms she has used. “It doesn’t take us a massive amount of time to explain it to the students. It increases the quality of the experience on the student side as well. Home learning and online learning is not something that you enjoy. And so anything that helps you shorten your screen time helps.”

She uses the platform to simplify making appointments with students, something that she, her colleagues, and their students all appreciate. Cialfo’s range of career events and workshops, meanwhile, are widely appreciated by students, and a good way to start conversations about their futures. “Our students find [them] very helpful,” she says. “It makes our lives so much easier, and for the students too. After the Cialfo Fairs, you get a sense that they learned something.”

Teachers also find Cialfo an invaluable resource, she adds. One particularly useful feature: they’re able to see a list of students who have asked for a letter of recommendation from them.

Keeping up to date through constant upgrades

Ang says she’s also been impressed with the way the platform keeps changing to meet counselor and student needs.

"Cialfo has been evolving, and you see it throughout the year, not just towards the end of the year. And when Cialfo makes changes, it doesn’t delete the old version for a certain period of time, which can otherwise be scary. This platform seems to try to catch up with the changes of the whole college applications world.”

Image credits: Sekolah Pelita Harapan