With the use of Recommendations for Terra Dotta Study Abroad, a program's application process can incorporate the request to a third-party, known as the recommender, to provide feedback about an applicant. The recommendation request is generated by an applicant and alerts a recommender via email that a recommendation is available in their Recommender Console for review. After completing the electronic recommendation form, a recommender is automatically notified that the application has been submitted.
This article covers the following topics related to Recommendations:
- Access & Permissions
- Understanding Recommendations
- Recommendation Types
- System-Level Recommendation Settings
- Program-Level Recommendation Settings
- Recommendation Forms
- Deploying a Recommendation
- Requesting a Recommendation
- The Recommender Experience
- Recommendations Settings Chart
- Frequently Asked Questions
Note the following important information before getting started with Recommendations:
- Recommendations for Terra Dotta Study Abroad uses a modern interface that aligns with that which other site users experience when the Applicant Experience is enabled.
- In order to use all aspects of the Recommendations for Terra Dotta Study Abroad feature, the Applicant Experience must be enabled.
- For the most optimal experience, offices should use rules-based app cycles and the tools of the Admin Console with this feature.
- As a best practice, offices should create recommendation types and set the desired system-level recommendation requirements before configuring recommendation forms and rules.
- Recommendations are not available for use with the "Advising" program type.
- Conditional question items are not available for use with recommendations.
- It is not possible for applicants to copy recommendations in the Applicant Experience.
- It is not possible for admins to copy recommendations from another application in the Admin Console. Instead, recommenders have the option to copy from previously submitted recommendations.
- An admin has the option to generate a new recommendation request that is immediately added to the application as "received".
- The following system-level settings are linked to classic functionality and are not available for use with Recommendations for Terra Dotta Study Abroad:
- Applicant-printed recommendation forms.
- The Quick Recommendation alternate interface. (Instead, this setting should remain enabled so that recommenders receive a direct "Complete Recommendation" link in the recommendation email from which they can access the recommendation form.)
In order for a recommender to access assigned recommendations, they need to be assigned to the "Recommender" staff group under Staff > Staff Permissions. The recommender group does not need to be granted any additional permissions. When an applicant requests a recommendation from someone, that person will automatically be added to the "Recommender" staff group if not already present in it.
After logging into a site, the recommender immediately lands on "Recommender Home", which is the Recommender Console.
From the Navigation Menu in the Admin Console, a recommender will only be able to access the menu items for "Recommender Home" and "Public Site".
A recommendation is a solicitation made by an applicant to a third party, known as the recommender, as part of a requirement of a program application. The recommender receives a recommendation request email directing them to complete an electronic recommendation form on the applicant's behalf.
An admin is able to create and utilize different recommendation types to suit the needs of each respective program.
As a best practice, the following steps should be taken to get started using recommendations:
1) Create recommendation types.
2) Enable system-level settings as desired.
3) Enable program-level settings as desired.
4) Configure recommendation form based on the rec type and desired content.
5) Create deployment rules which deploy respective recommendation form to an application. When the required recommendation is requested by an applicant, the associated recommendation form is deployed to the recommender.
Offices often require different kinds of recommendations from one program to another. For example, one program might require a language recommendation to rate an applicant's proficiency while another might require a faculty recommendation to rate academic performance. Recommendation types, also referred to as "rec types", allow you to create and assign different recommendations based on a program's needs.
Navigate to Settings > Rec Types to create and manage recommendation types. Only admins with the following permission can access this screen:
- Settings: Recommendation Types (View, Edit, Delete)
Add a Recommendation Type
1. Click the "New Recommendation" button to open a new rec type creation form.
2. Populate the following fields with your desired data:
- Recommendation Type: Examples might include "Language Recommendation" or "Faculty Recommendation". The data entered here should align with your office's practices and will vary.
- Description: Use this space to provide information to applicants about the rec type. This description will appear on any application page to which a recommendation of this type has been assigned; therefore, all text entered here will be applicant-facing.
3. Click "Save" to preserve your changes.
To make edits, click the "edit" icon from the "Actions" column on the main Recommendation Type page.
Delete A Recommendation Type
1. From the "Actions" column of your desired recommendation type, click the red "X" icon.
2. A modal will appear asking you to confirm that delete action. Select "OK" to finalize the change.
- Recommendation types can only be deleted if there are no recommendation forms that have been created which use this recommendation type. This is inclusive of any recommendation forms that have been retired. Once a recommendation form has been created in Content Management and defined as a specific recommendation type, a "lock" icon will replace the red "X" icon in the "Actions" column on the main Recommendation Type page. This signifies that the rec type cannot be deleted.
- By default, a "General" rec type exists on a site and cannot be deleted from the system. The "General" rec type does not appear under Settings > Rec Types and does not need to be created.
It is possible to define system-level, or "global", settings related to recommendations. These settings are located under Settings > System Features > Administrative and, once configured, are inherited by all new programs that are created.
When making configurations, clicking into the box next to "Enable" will populate it with a checkmark, signifying that the setting has been activated. Removing the checkmark means the setting has been deactivated.
The global settings on this page include the following:
Additional Administrative User Types
The "Recommenders" settings are:
- Enable: This setting activates the recommendation feature for use on your site.
- Enable Directory Lookup: This setting allows applicants to search for internal site users to select as recommenders.
- Enable Manual Entry: The setting allows applicants to manually enter the information of external site users to select as recommenders. For more information on this setting, see the Disabling the Manual Entry Recommendation Option article.
Additional Recommender Configuration Options
- Do not allow more than the required number of recommendations.
- Allow applicants to view non-waived recommendation responses through application pages.
Important Note: The following settings are linked to classic functionality and are not available for use with Recommendations for Terra Dotta Study Abroad:
- Include office mailing address on the printed recommendation questionnaires.
- Include printable recommendation form in emailed requests.
- Provide the Quick Recommendation alternate interface. (Instead, recommenders receive a direct link in the recommendation email from which they can access the recommendation.)
- Additional recommendation request email instructions. Any text entered here will appear in the recommendation request email that is sent to a recommender.
Default Recommendation Requirements
- Default Required Number of Recommendations: General
- For any rec types that have been created on your site, a system-level setting will also appear here where the default required number of recommendations can be set.
The default number of recommendations should mirror the number and type of recommendations required by the majority of your programs. This setting can be adjusted on a per-program basis, but if your default setting is configured to align with the majority of your programs, then it will only be necessary to make an adjustment for the few programs that have different requirements. For example, if most of your programs require one "General" recommendation and one "Academic Advisor" recommendation, then you'd want to make these settings at the system level here. For programs with different requirements, you can make those adjustments at the program level from the "Application Lifecycle" step in Program Wizard.
When a program has recommendation requirements that vary from those you might have configured at the system level, then it is possible to create program-level settings in Program Wizard.
From the Admin Console, navigate to Program Finder > Locate your program > Open Program Wizard > Navigate to the Application Lifecycle step. The following settings appear:
- Use this toggle to enable or disable recommendations at the program level.
- Recommendation Requirements
- When recommendations are enabled, this setting will appear and display all rec types available for use on a site. From here, you can set the number of required recommendations for each rec type.
- Application Submit Requirement: When the submit button is enabled, set the configuration for recommendations associated with the program. Recommendations will be counted as requirements in the progress wheel of an application when the submit button is used. See the Submit Button article for video instruction on this option. Choose from the following:
- No recommendations requirement.
- Recommendations Must Be Requested. This means that a recommendation must only be requested by an applicant in order to complete the requirement and submit their application. With this setting, applicants do not need to worry about returning back to their application to click on the "Submit" button after their recommender has taken action.
- Recommendations Must Be Completed. This means that a recommendation must be both requested by the applicant and completed by the recommender before an applicant can complete the requirement and submit their application. If the "Submit" button is being used, then an applicant would need to know to return to their application after their recommender has taken action in order to officially click "Submit" and complete their application submission process.
Recommendation forms are used as a tool to collect feedback from recommenders. Think of them as a questionnaire that gets deployed; however, the form appears only to recommenders and never to applicants.
Important Note: Once a recommendation form is saved or submitted, it is locked into that version of the form used. If subsequent changes are made to the recommendation form, then these changes will not appear on recommendation forms that had previously been saved or submitted.
To create and manage recommendation forms, navigate to Admin Console > Content Management > Recommendation Forms. This brings you to a listing of all recommendation forms on your site. By default, forms are listed from A to Z. The "type" column establishes the specific rec type for which the form has been created.
Recommendation forms only appear in this section of Content Management. They are created within this builder using the same bank of question items from which questionnaires are created. The instructions for creating a recommendation form are therefore very similar to those for creating a questionnaire. Refer to the Questionnaire Builder KB article for additional information on question items.
Important Note: Conditional question items are not available for use with recommendations.
Click on the "+" sign in the lower right corner of the page to open a new recommendation form and build with these steps:
1) Add a title for the new recommendation form.
2) Select the desired recommendation type. Options will include "All" and "General" by default in addition to any recommendation types configured under Settings > Rec Types.
3) Add the desired instructions. A rich-text editor gives you formatting options.
4) Note that the "active" toggle is enabled by default and can be used to retire the recommendation form.
5) Begin creating question items. This can be done by clicking the plus "+" symbol on the bottom left of the page. An information window will appear giving you options on how to proceed. These include "Create New" and "Add Existing".
To create a new question item, proceed in the builder using the following options:
1) Question: Write your question here.
2) Type: Use the drop-down menu to make a selection of Field, Yes or No, Date, Rating, Data Lookup, Data Lookup with Search, or File Upload.
3) Sub Type: This field will appear as applicable, and a drop-down menu will provide options. For example, if you select "Field" as your type, then choose from Text, Numeric, Short Description, or Essay under Sub Type.
4) Add Instructions: These are specific to the question item.
5) Mark as Required: Click the toggle switch to mark this question item as required or not.
6) Delete: Click the trash can to remove your entry for this question item if you decide not to proceed.
Currently, a new question item will go into the "Uncategorized" folder by default and can be reused in another questionnaire.
To add an existing question item, proceed in the builder using with the following options:
1) After selecting the option to use an existing question item, a display page will appear with a full list of existing question items for you to choose from. Use the paginated search results (located on the bottom right of the page) to control the number of items which appear per page.
2) Select a question by clicking into its corresponding checkbox. More than one question item can be added at a time.
3) Once you are ready to proceed, click "Continue". If you do not want to proceed, click "Cancel".
4) After clicking continue, you will be directed back to your builder page and will see that the selected question item has been added. By default, this question item will appear last in your recommendation form. However, you can use the "Question Order" arrow to change the placement of this question item.
After building your first question item, you can click the plus "+" sign in the left bottom corner to create another new question item or add an existing question item to the recommendation form.
Click "Add" to preserve your changes.
When a recommendation is required for a program, then all applicants to that program must complete the recommendation requirement. Recommendations are not deployed by a rule but are instead based on the recommendation settings made at either the system or program level. It is not possible to configure a recommendation requirement to be conditional.
Recommendation forms are deployed by a rule. When specific conditions are met, then the assigned recommendation form will be viewable to recommenders.
Important Note: When arranging requirements via the Application Organization feature, recommendation types will appear if they have been enabled for use. It's this recommendation type that an applicant will see listed as a requirement on their application page. Recommendation forms will not appear in Application Organization as these items are deployed by a rule and only appear to recommenders after the recommendation request has been sent.
See the "Creating a Deployment Rule" section of the Deployment Rules article for more details on deploying a recommendation form with a rule.
A recommendation can be requested by an applicant or by an admin on behalf of the applicant.
When an applicant applies to a program that requires a recommendation, then the recommendation will appear on their application page under the "Online Requirements" section as a requirement to complete. The requirement will appear under the name of the rec type. For example, if the required rec type is "Language Proficiency", then the requirement name on the application page will appear as "Language Proficiency Recommendation Required".
Depending on your site's system settings, the applicant will use either the Directory Lookup and/or Manual Entry option to search for and/or enter a recommender. The read waiver is set to "Yes" by default, meaning the applicant will waive their right to read or obtain copies of the recommendation they are requesting unless they set this option to "No".
The character limit for the "Previous Courses" and "Additional Information" fields is 1000 characters.
After the recommendation has been requested by the applicant, the recommendation requirement will drop to the "Recommendations" section of the application page. Here an applicant can track the date on which the recommendation was requested and the date on which the recommendation was completed by the recommender.
Recommendations are counted in the progress wheel based on how the program-level settings have been configured (i.e. recommendation must be requested versus recommendation must be completed).
When an admin views an application in full in Application Admin Manager, it is possible to generate a recommendation on behalf of an applicant. Hover your mouse over the recommendation line items, and a "Generate Recommendation Request" icon will appear.
A "Request New Recommendation" modal will appear, and the admin has two options after selecting a recommender:
- Send Request: This option sends a notification to the recommender that they have a recommendation for which they need to take action.
- Add as Received: This option does not send a notification to the recommender. Instead, the recommendation is marked as received and added to the application as a completed requirement. This option might be used when a PDF of a completed recommendation form is received by the office, and an admin needs to manually mark the recommendation as received. The PDF is uploaded to the application from the "Documents" tab.
An applicant will always be able to view recommendation submissions from their application page that were generated by an admin. A "view" icon will appear under the "Actions" column for the respective recommendation in the "Recommendations" panel on the application page.
When an applicant generates a recommendation request from their application page, they will have the option to waive their right to view the recommendation submission. This read waiver can only be set to "yes" by the applicant requesting the recommendation.
If the system setting of "Allow applicants to view non-waived recommendation responses through application pages" (Settings > System Features > Administrative) is enabled, applicants will be able to view recommendation submissions from their application page. If this setting is disabled, when the applicant clicks to view a non-waived recommendation, an email will be sent to the Support Contact 1 email. This notification alerts them that the applicant has requested to view the recommendation.
Recommendation requests are recorded in the activity log of an application.
Accessing the Recommendation Form
When a recommendation is requested, an email will automatically be sent to the recommender. Within the recommendation request email, the applicant's name, the program to which they've applied, and the term for that program application will be listed. Directly below this information, a "Complete Recommendation" button will appear (as this replaces the classic data element of "Quick Rec ID Instructions"). The button is configured to always be green, and this setting cannot be changed.
Important Note: In order for the "Complete Recommendation" button to appear in the recommendation request email, the following system setting must be enabled: Settings > System Features > Admin Home > Provide the Quick Recommendation Alternate Interface.
If the recommender has a user account in your site: They will click on the "Complete Recommendation" button and be routed directly to the recommendation form for the applicant without needing to log in.
If the recommender does not have a user account in your site: They will click on the "Complete Recommendation" button and be routed directly to the recommendation form for the applicant. However, they will not be able to access the form until they complete the actions required in the "Set Password" modal that appears. (How does this work? Well, the system knows who the user is and is able to check to see if they have a temporary password or not. If they do, they were created as a non-integrated user, and they are provided the modal to create a permanent password.) Here, the recommender creates a permanent password that can be used in the event they want or need to log into the site again.
Completing the Recommendation Form
When a recommender accesses a recommendation form for an applicant, they'll see information organized as follows:
- A title bar listing the applicant's name across the top of the page.
- A left panel listing program information, including the program name, term and year, and location. If the applicant included any previous courses and additional information in their recommendation request, then that information will display here, too.
- A main recommendation form panel. This is where the recommendation form that was deployed by you rule will appear for the recommender to complete. The title of the recommendation form used in Content Management displays on this page to the recommender.
- Information regarding the applicant waiver will display as a banner before the recommendation form.
Important Note: This Recommender Console replaces the classic recommender view of recommendations.
A recommendation form is auto-saved as the recommender takes action to populate the form with data. The system will display an "auto-saved responses X minutes ago" message at the bottom of the recommendation form every minute once the form has loaded and been modified.
The recommendation form will display a maximum of 10 questions on one page. For forms containing 11 or more question items, the recommender will be directed to navigate from "Part 1 of 2" to "Part 2 of 2" using an arrow icon at the bottom of the recommendation form.
If a recommender has previously submitted a recommendation where both the rec type and recommendation form version are the same, then a "Copy from Previously Submitted" link will appear at the top of the recommendation form. Clicking on this link will display up to the last ten recommendations which meet the criteria listed above from which the recommender can make their desired selection.
If the copied recommendation contains a question item type of "yes/no with explanation", then the response will be copied exactly as it was made in the original recommendation. For example, if the original recommendation form contained the response of "No" with the explanation of "Applicant Susie does not meet the requirements in my opinion", then this response in its entirety would be copied into the new recommendation form for another applicant. Recommenders should be advised to check over their responses accordingly before submitting their recommendation.
When the recommendation form has been completed, the recommender clicks on "Done" to submit it.
Important Note: It is not possible for a recommender to make changes to the recommendation form once it has been submitted.
After completing the recommendation, a modal appears to notify the recommender of any pending recommendations that remain.
Important Note: If the recommender completed the recommendation after entering a permanent password to create an account, then they will be prompted to log in before being able to access the Recommender Console.
The Recommender Console
A recommender's pending and submitted recommendations are accessed via the Recommender Console.
The Recommender Console contains two tabs:
- Pending Recommendations: Look here for recommendations awaiting review.
- Submitted Recommendations: Look here for recommendations that have been submitted.
- Currently, submitted recommendations will remain in this tab indefinitely.
When navigating to the Recommender Console, the recommender will land on the "Pending Recommendations" tab by default.
Information is organized on the Recommender Console with columns (from left to right) as follows:
- Applicant Name
- Program Name
- App Cycle
- Open Recommendation
- Click the arrow to open the recommendation in full and take action.
- Hold down "Alt" and click on the arrow icon to open the recommendation in a new tab.
- Signed Date
- This column, unique to the "Submitted Recommendations" tab, displays the date on which the recommendation was submitted by the recommender.
Click on the triangle filter icon for each column to narrow your search by keyword.
Finally, navigate through the recommendation listing easily using the paginated search results tool.
The system uses the following notification emails (Process > Notifications) as part of the recommendations process:
- Recommendation Request: Email sent to a recommender when an applicant requests a recommendation from them.
- Recommendation Submitted Confirmation: Email sent to a recommender upon submission of a recommendation to confirm that the office has received and recorded their recommendation for the application. If the Applicant Experience is not enabled on your site and the recommendation is sent from the classic recommendation page, then this email will not be sent.
The following chart demonstrates how recommendations can be configured at the program level and how these configurations may impact the counts shown in the application's progress wheel and the progress audit.
1 - Are recommenders prevented from submitting their recommendations after the application deadline has passed?
No. If a student requests a recommendation, that recommendation request remains active in the system indefinitely and can be submitted by the recommender at any time.
It is the responsibility of the applicant (or, if taken on, the office) to contact the recommender and notify them of the deadline for the application so that it can be submitted prior to the application's review by the office staff. However, should the recommender not complete the recommendation prior to the application deadline, the software will not block its submission afterwards. It will record the date on which the recommendation was submitted like any other recommendation submitted for an application.
2 - Am I able to report on recommendations in the Admin Console (i.e. Analytics, Application Finder, the Progress Audit)?
The Application Finder's Progress Audit provides a checkbox from which you can include recommendations in the audit results. These results will always display a count of the number of recommendations received (i.e. completed by the recommender) out of the total number required. In the image below, the counter notes that 1 recommendation has been received out of 1 required.
3 - Is the classic Recommender home screen no longer available?
If you are not using the Applicant Experience - and your applicants are still viewing the classic version of the application page, then your recommenders will continue to view recommendations using the classic interface. After you have enabled the Applicant Experience, your recommenders will view recommendations from the updated recommendation console.
4 - How can we alert recommenders with pending recommendations that they have the option to log in and copy previous responses in order to complete recommendations in a more timely manner?
Utilize the instructions section of your recommendation form to communicate this option to your recommenders. When they receive the recommendation request email and click on "Complete Recommendation", they will be routed to view the pending recommendation and see the recommendation form with instructions. Then they'll be informed of the option to log in and use the copy option, if applicable.
5 - Can an admin copy a recommendation request from another application?
In the Admin Console, an admin can generate a recommendation request on behalf of an applicant and either send the request to a recommender or mark the recommendation as received on the recommender's behalf. This is done from the "Requirements" section in the Application Admin Manager by hovering your mouse over the recommendation request and clicking on the "Generate Recommendation Request" icon.
It is not possible for an admin to copy a recommendation request from another application on this page. Instead, a recommender has the option to copy from a previously submitted recommendation.
6 - A recommender is reporting that they click on the "Complete Recommendation" link, yet they get a system message that no recommendation questionnaire exists. Why might this be?
If a recommendation type is required for the program, then a recommendation form of that type must also be deployed to an application for that program. Check the Deployment Rules section of the Admin Console to ensure that you have a recommendation form of the required recommendation type that is being deployed by an active rule when the conditions are met.
For example, if programs in my program group of "Global Programs" require a custom "Language" recommendation type, then I need to navigate to Content Management > Recommendation Forms and create a recommendation form for my "Language" recommendation type. Next, I need to ensure that I have an active deployment rule that will deploy my "Language" recommendation form when the condition of program group is "Global Programs" is met. My applicant will see the "Language" recommendation requirement on their application page, and the recommender will see and complete the "Language" recommendation form.
7 - I'd like to better understand how recommendations function with the use of the Submit Button.
Check out the Submit Button article in our Knowledgebase which includes a 13-minute instructional video.
8 - Can recommendations be limited to internal applicants only for a program?
No. If a recommendation is required, then it is required for all applicants of the program and will appear as a requirement on the application page for both internal and external applicants.
Offices are encouraged to leverage their application and recommendation type instructions.
Note that it is possible to configure different recommendation forms for the same recommendation type and deploy these based on applicant type. In this way, if a general recommendation type was required for a program, then recommenders for external applicants could receive a general recommendation form customized for this group while recommenders for internal applicants could receive another general recommendation form customized for that group.
9 - Why does my recommendation display on an application with the word "recommendation" repeating, such as in "Faculty Recommendation recommendation required"?
Anytime there is a recommendation listed on the application page or on the admin view of an application, the line item will include the word "recommendation" by default. The reason you see "recommendation" listed twice is because you have a custom recommendation (rec) type that uses the word "recommendation".
If you were to navigate to the Settings > Rec Types, you will likely see that you have a rec type called "Faculty Recommendation", for example. If you were to modify the rec type name to be "Faculty", then it would display on application pages as "Faculty recommendation required" going forward instead of "Faculty Recommendation recommendation required".
10 - How do recommendations impact the nightly "complete" flag check?
Recommendations must be completed by the recommender to be considered finished for the nightly "complete" flag check.
11 - Can applicants receive a notification after the recommenders completes their recommendation?
At this time, applicants are not notified when this action occurs. The only email that goes out after a recommendation has been completed is the "Recommendation Submitted Confirmation" which gets sent to recommenders to confirm that the office has received and recorded their recommendation.
Note that the Application Requirement Submitted Trigger sends notifications when an applicant completes a requirement only. Therefore, recommendation forms are not options for use with this trigger type.
12 - Is it possible for an admin or student to resend a recommendation request to a recommender?
If a student has requested a recommendation from a recommender who has yet to take action on that request, then the student has the option to send an email to that individual. On the application page, there is a send email option that will appear to the right of the recommendation request which the student can use.
There is not the specific option for an admin or student to resend a recommendation request.
If the student or admin attempts to generate a second recommendation request for the same recommender and recommendation type on the application, then this will result in creating a second, separate request for the same recommender which will be counted as a new requirement of the application.