I feel it’s vitally important to connect with other professionals in admission and enrollment. AISAP is the only organization whose only mission is to support admission and enrollment professionals and while they do that in a number of ways, the AISAP Annual Institute is at the top of my list.
This summer will be my seventh Annual Institute and with each year, I’ve found applicable content for where I am in my career. Regardless of your level, there’s always something for you to learn. Simply put, this is your chance to learn from others who do the work and get questions answered. If you can bring back one thing to change your office and what you do, I define that as a success and there has never been a year where I haven’t brought back ideas that have changed my office.
I think the distinction between the terms “institute” and “conference” is important. I go to the Annual Institute to learn. It’s not dissimilar to the feeling I had when I went to college. In my mind, conferences function more as networking events, and while the Annual Institute certainly has that aspect as well, the focus is really on improving the profession. There’s an intentionality in place to offer takeaways that attendees can bring back to work and actually implement. Year after year, I find specific sessions that directly impact my work. I not only get a tremendous amount of information but can return to the recordings throughout the year.
Part of what defines separates the Institute from a typical conference are the Cohort Groups. I really love serving as a cohort leader and it’s not because I consider myself some kind of fierce leader. I’m there to be part and learn from others. In many ways, we’re actually leading each other and that’s extremely rewarding. And it doesn’t end when the Institute does. You meet your group at the Institute itself but then we meet three or four more times throughout the year.
While the circumstances surrounding the move to a virtual event the last two years are not ideal, there have been positives! At my desk or while I am on vacation, I can learn and be inspired. And since travel and hotel expenses are no longer an issue, my entire team can attend. AISAP delivers live content enhanced by speaker office hours and cohort groups, so we really do participate!
The Annual Institute provides a path to becoming the best admissions professional I can be by going and learning from others. I’ve even said to my head of school that if I was faced with spending my own dollars or missing the Institute, I’d pay out of my own pocket to attend. It’s that important. It’s such a hands-down, 100% endorsement that I’ve gotten to the point where I feel badly for those who don’t attend. It’s an experience that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
Director of Admission and Financial Aid
Washington Episcopal School