Get outta the office…and off campus…
The decisions are made, the tears are shed, the school is full (or at least getting there!)….now what?
While we now view admissions as a year-round joyride, there is a small window of time after decisions are communicated and the end of school when it is actually possible to get off campus and visit other schools and programs.
In past years I’ve driven a couple hours to escape my catchment area to see a similar school with similar surrounding demographics. This took some extra effort, but gave me the chance to freely share challenges, ideas and brainstorm with peers who weren’t competing in my neck of the woods.
This year I’ve reached out to three near-peer schools in my tertiary catchment area and I’ve asked to visit sometime before the end of school. I picked these schools because they aren’t direct competitors (although it wouldn’t be a problem to visit a direct competitor) but are certainly educational options for local independent school families. Part of being a good admission director is to not only know your own school really, really well, but to also know about the programs and options available in your market. Two schools so far have generously agreed to let me visit and of course, I’ve offered to reciprocate.
You could also consider visiting feeder schools or non-school competitor programs which offer a-la-carte enrichment that families may consider in lieu of independent school. In my area, there is a for-profit math program in which families routinely enroll their children and use paying for the special math program as justification for keeping them in the public school. I visited this program and it allowed me to develop better positioning language around what our program offers.
While it takes a little initiative (which no admission person is short of!), visiting other schools offers an inexpensive, convenient and highly targeted professional development opportunity. I usually end up visiting alone, but I invite fellow administrators as well as my team to join in. Beyond having the chance to see some great schools, the best part of these visits is they give me fresh eyes for my own school.
Director of Admissions and Financial AidFenn School