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Are you answering ( not asking ) THE key question to turn a prospect into a believer (applicant/matriculant) in your school? Here’s how ice cream changed my (marketing) life: As I walked down the cute village sidewalk in Lake Placid, NY on a Saturday with snow coming down, I was thinking, in addition to, this is a beautiful village: “it’s cold, really cold.” In fact, for anyone who knows me and my sweet tooth, you’d be shocked to think that I wasn’t actually thinking chocolate or ice cream. A rare moment indeed. But when my eyes locked in on that sidewalk sign…” it’s never too cold for ice cream...
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Folks…listen up. Every time I hear “data-driven” …especially data-driven decision-making in our profession, I cringe a bit. Allow me to explain. Are we really driven by data? I typed in an address in my GPS the other day and (like I often do) blindly followed the directions to my son’s hockey game. But as I drove taking turns and more turns, something didn’t feel right. I sort of knew where the rink was, but it didn’t feel like we were going the right way. Turns out, I was right. We went off track and we were late. Points off for dad for being, literally, data driven. You might say I had the wrong...
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At independent schools, we value goodness in our students. We work hard to establish core values and expectations within our communities -- and we celebrate as students demonstrate their courage, passion, and kindness toward others. (Think “Heart”) At the same time, we value deep thinking and learning. We encourage our students to take challenging courses – the most challenging possible -- to push their own intellectual limits and prepare for the countless other challenges they will face down the road. (Think “Brain”) Woven into and throughout all of this, though, are a variety of personal traits that we’ve...
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Birds of a Feather

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There was a time when the question was asked, particularly of students in schools like ours, "Why do all the black kids sit together in the dining hall?" That question could have probably been outfitted to speak to many different races/cultural backgrounds. Arguably, it could have been expanded to "why do all the blacks and Latinos sit together...?" Well, the answer has always been obvious and (in my opinion) justifiable. Private/independent schools have been around a long time. Many in the east have much longer histories than any public school. My school's almost 243 year old history, makes it older than the country itself, let alone any school...
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Soon after graduating from university, I began my career in private school admission. It was a natural transition having studied at a boarding school before going to university. I was inspired by the kindness of my dorm parents, dedication of my teachers and the overall feeling of community at the school. The faculty and staff who worked with me made a small school in northern New Hampshire feel almost as comfortable as my home two hours away in Massachusetts. Eager to become the role model I so appreciated as a student, I began my career in independent schools. Five years later I have learned more than I ever could have expected. Below, I have included words...
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The Admission profession has always attracted great people: passionate and compassionate people and wise, intuitive people; people who know and care about kids at all stages of development; people who care about a fair and just process; people whose lives have been transformed by education, or who have seen first-hand the transformation of others. But the world, our schools, and the role of an admission professional, has become much more complicated. It is time for the industry to respond. Indeed, the role an admission professional plays in their school and with students and families is too critical to continue without a program to train and certify these...
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The month of February is all about decision letters in the world of independent school admissions, and as a savvy enrollment managers, you know enrollment is declining. Your school may be searching for an innovative business model that will help address declining number of decision letters you're sending out! This excellent article by Mike Connor offers a unique option: examine your sphere of influence. Read the original here . Independent Schools as an industry are experiencing challenging times. Enrollment has declined 10% in the past ten years. Like private colleges, we’ve seen hard inquiries decline over 20% in that same...
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I was recently on a call with our Planning Committee reviewing our program content for this year’s Annual Institute . While the discussion was primarily focused on sessions and Cornerstone Speakers, a review of overall goals of the program were top of mind as many of us reminisced about our favorite moments from Institutes gone by. Serving as a backdrop to all of this was the acknowledgement that as professionals we have entered into another enrollment management season, time for Application Review! While many do this alone, for others it is a process that involves a committee structure. No matter; it is a season that is not for the faint of...
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It’s re-enrollment season, and as a savvy data-driven admission directors, marketing directors, and advancement directors, you know that studies say enrollments are down 10% in 10 years and hard inquiries are down 20%. This excellent article by Mike Connor so eloquently addressed how to tackle this issue intelligently that we just had to reprint it. Read the original here . Latest headlines: NAIS enrollments down 10% in 10 years. Hard inquiries down 20%, mirroring private colleges. Listservs buzzing about how to increase full-pay families. Even successful schools with waitlists in upper grades are concerned about lower school...
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2015: A Year in Review

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With the winter's arrival and a new year looming ahead, we often take this time to reflect on the precious moments of the year past and to look forward to the new opportunities and possibilities of the year to come. This year marked a decade for AISAP--a momentus year--and so we share our memories with you. In no particular order, here are a few highlights from 2015 as they relate to the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals: The AISAP Exchange --Many hundreds of you exchanged work-related questions and solutions on topics from Parent Ambassadors to Dashboards for your Board reports, and Word Of Mouth Programs to Tuition Remission....
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One of the more poorly explored topics in admission is how and at what level schools should establish an advertising budget. Budget information is rarely shared outside the walls of the business office, much less at professional development conferences. Regardless of the source of our reticence, given the vital requirement that we amplify our value proposition, the topic should be at the center of good admission work everywhere. Wise strategic tactics should be explored on the national stage. Making educated decisions about advertising must first uncover comparable institutions that advertise. To what set of institutions or services could we compare...
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When you think about “meeting your goal,” what do you think about? a. Just new students b. Just returning students c. Both new and returning d. Dollars that are represented by “X” students enrolled e. Combination of C + D f. Other With most of my fall travel completed, I can see this part of our season drawing to a close. November is that month when many of you have had the first significant look—both in numbers and in face-to-face encounters—at your next year’s applicants. Open houses, student visits, and “Take-a-peak Tuesdays” have taken place or are at least on their way to being completed. Applications...
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The beginning of the school year is my favorite time of the year. The energy of the students is almost palpable – they are excited, anxious, nervous, and ambitious. The longer I’ve been at schools I realize that the adults at school are feeling many of the same emotions. School marketers especially fall into the category of being ambitious. The start of the school year is an opportunity to launch new campaigns, iterate past initiatives to make them better, and simply try new marketing “things.” Unfortunately, some school marketers use the beginning of the school year to launch new social media accounts without having a plan, defining goals, or thinking...
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Open House Season

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Clearly, it’s that time of year for Open House. How can I tell? Well, it’s not the crisp fall air, or the the changing colors of the trees, or even the increase in traffic in the mornings as I drive my daughter to school. No. It’s a much simpler answer. It is the 435 radio advertisements I hear on my morning drive, touting the various qualities of the area private schools, enticing you to “take a look at our school”. That’s all the tip-off I need to know that it is, in fact, open house season. Let’s look at those ads for a moment, because there is a cautionary tale in here. I have listened to ads all week, and without...
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One of the more frequent topics discussed on independent school admission and marketing list-servs is the open house. Often, the plea is to share your newest, best, most creative ideal for planning a better open house. Indeed, our admission team discusses Open Houses every summer. The conversations typically start with a few standard questions. Things like: • Are our open houses getting stale? • Are we engaging our open houses guests sufficiently? • Should we start from scratch and design an entirely new open house format? Eventually, we move on to a standard set of conclusions. These often include: • Attendance at...
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In a few weeks AISAP will launch our Certification in Admission and Enrollment Management (CAEP) Level 1 Charter Class, and we continue to meet with school leaders interested in strengthening their operational systems through our Consultancy Services. As well, we learn about you and your present-day needs through our growing menu of Roundtables, Leadership Summits, Bright Ideas Meetings, and webinars. Our unwavering commitment to your work each day is evident in our mission and our mantra, “At AISAP, we admit it, you are our why!” But we also need to examine the future. What will admission and enrollment management professionals of tomorrow and years...
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document.write(' '); Find a service to share: Facebook Twitter Google+ Google LinkedIn Tumblr Digg Reddit VKontakte Mail.ru Delicious GMail Blogger LiveJournal Baidu Amazon Bit.ly Whois Lookup Google Translate...
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document.write(' '); Claude Anderson ( @fullpayfamilies ) Dean of Enrollment Northfield Mount Hermon MarketingtoFullPay.com Tuition-charging schools have some inherent business aspects that make generating the revenues from enrollment considerably more difficult than other businesses. In this month's podcast, I identify these elements that I call Business and Marketing Peculiarities in Education (BMPE). There isn’t much we can do about most of them, but recognizing them may help the leadership think differently about program and resources needed to achieve enrollment revenues. These eight...
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document.write(' '); And we will live in the house while we build it A rather catchy phrase that conjures up a can-do, get-it-done spirit while establishing a feeling of permanence and movement towards new things. Living in the house while you build it- allows you to stake your claim, call it yours, all the while still working out where the walls might be, the furniture will be placed, and confirming whether it is hardwood or carpet before you invite your neighbors over for dinner. Living in your house while you build it also creates urgency for at some point a friend, a relative, a guest will be knocking on your door wanting...
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document.write(' '); I was watching The Today Show the other morning and on came a segment saying new research shows that drinking 8 glasses of water a day actually does absolutely nothing for you. Wow. All those years feeling less than hydrated, not to mention guilty for not being able to down 8 glasses of water. To think I was for the most part the placebo when I did manage to consume by quota. It made me wonder, however, being an advocate for research and data, especially in education, what educational studies we might be overvaluing? I have quoted the marshmallow study of the late 60’s...
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