Retaining students in higher education is a big challenge as colleges and universities struggle to maintain a high level of customer service in the face of tightening budgets and larger student populations. We at Cal State Monterey Bay are no different, and have been working on a Drupal install profile to help make our faculty, advisors, and support staff more efficient when working with students.
The Student CRM project is an install profile that leverages the CRM Core project, so students, activities, and cases are all Drupal entities and are available to things like Views, search, feeds, etc. The CRM core project introduces a few basic entities to build a simple CRM, and we have extended it to add information like courses, course enrollment, GPA records, and holds.
When we posted to g.d.o about this project a few months ago, many people claimed that CiviCRM could work for our needs. We spent a lot of time with CiviCRM already, and are in the process of arguing that our fundraising arm should move to Civi. However, the needs of this project, including building in a whole lot of custom entity types, as well as the challenges of rolling out a simple CRM to a large number of users with little or no training, meant that we would have had to dedicate a lot of time in altering Civi to pare down the UI and remove unneeded features. We also really wanted to be able to keep our development work within the Drupal API as well as leveraging things like Feeds to tightly integrate our student data with our campus SIS. We love Civi, but decided this project was easier to build using the existing tools in Drupal itself.
We have a demo site almost ready to share with the world as well, but from the Github page you can download the project in an archive or use the distro.make file with drush. The project is still in development, but we're deploying another version with a few customizations to integrate with our campus systems internally for a small beta test group in the Spring 2012 semester, and will use what we learn from this group on the upstream project.