School Moves from Naviance to Cialfo, Altering College Process

For most Benjamin students, the college process was accompanied by one word: Naviance. This application and counseling organizer helped students begin the college search, giving them an overview of the schools they were interested in. Nevertheless, this past summer, the School decided to switch from its contract with Naviance to Cialfo, hoping it will prove more beneficial for students than its predecessor. 

While Benjamin has had a contract with Naviance for well over ten years, the School felt that it was time to change systems as Naviance had started to become uncooperative with feedback given by college counselors. For example, the system would not store or plot pre-ACT scores on Scattergrams. College counseling also asked for Naviance to add this function for over 5 years. The application also would not let users flag majors or programs within a college. Ms. Anna Wright, Director of College Counseling, says, “We had reached out to Naviance multiple times last year and said, ‘We’re thinking about switching, please tell us why we shouldn’t switch, please tell us what you’re going to do to fix these problems’ and they were unresponsive as they had been for twenty years.” 

In contrast, she explains how Cialfo was quick in making the changes that she and her colleagues requested. “They are fixing things all the time. For example, they made it easier to navigate around and collect data; they added a feature where we can now see if a student has received and opened our email messages. They are [just] very reactive and meet [us halfway].”

In fact, Benjamin is not the only independent school to make a switch from Naviance. “I would say a lot of independent schools switched. I went on a tour of California high schools in February, and there were 50 college counselors who were making a switch to either Cialfo or one of the other two, which we also contemplated,” Ms. Wright says. 

Cialfo was not the only system that Benjamin had on the table. In deciding to contract with Cialfo, the School decided against both Maia Learning and Scoir. While Maia Learning was too complicated and limited student interaction with counselors, signing up with Scoir at that time would prevent students’ ability to link their applications with CommonApp, and college counseling did not want to jeopardize the applications. 

Very content with the decision the school made with the new system, Ms. Wright gives a variety of reasons as to why Benjamin has decided that Naviance was no longer up to their standards. 

Primarily, Ms. Wright finds that Cialfo is more student-friendly than Naviance. “[Cialfo, for example] allows us to text students. Now, we are not going to blow up anybody’s phone, but we know that some people don’t read their email, so it’s a different way to communicate with students. It [also] allows students to go in and set up a meeting with a college counselor without the back and forth [conversation]” she says. “[Cialfo] seemed to put more tools in the students’ box and we really wanted to have a program that students felt they could engage with.”

The student-friendliness of the new collegiate system was put to the test right as COVID-19 hit and students were forced to attend school virtually. “We really dove into [Cialfo] right about the time that COVID happened, so a lot of our spring communications were done through Cialfo,” Ms. Wright says. 

While Ms. Wright mentions that they did training with the new system in the spring toward the end of the year as well as training with the seniors who attended this August’s Boot Camp, the College Counseling team held an additional training day for other students on September 29th as an evening program. “We walked everybody through it and how to use it. And we recorded it, so if you couldn’t come on a Tuesday night at seven o’clock, you’ll be able to have access to it. There are also lumens, which are short videos, so we might create a series of short videos of how to do a college search and other quick things.”

Senior students, who have received the training and are now using the system, find Cialfo more helpful in their search as well as their interactions with their college counselor. Senior Kate Lower says, “One of the main benefits of Cialfo is how modern looking it is. The program is much easier to navigate that Naviance which makes the entire college admissions process much simpler.” She also mentioned that “it allows students to be able to schedule meetings directly, so the possibility of a counselor not seeing an email from you is eliminated.”

Similarly, senior Alex Kahn appreciates the elimination of the back and forth that used to happen when the school was using Naviance. “The Cialfo scheduling system is really helpful because we can look to see Ms. Wright’s schedule and when she is available. We no longer have to email back and forth trying to find a time to meet because it is all laid out on the website.”

While Cialfo’s ability to increase interaction with students and college counseling, that is not the best part of this system. In fact, Ms. Wright says that she is most excited about the fact that Cialfo keeps getting better every day, updating and fixing features that may frustrate the college counselors, and because of that, both students and college counseling will constantly have a better experience during the stressful times of college research and applications.