“Do you have to go to grow?” Are you making the right career “moves” as an admission & enrollment management professional?

By Ray Diffley posted 03-27-2017 17:04

It’s interesting to be writing this article having just made a job move myself.  I put the quotes around “move” in the title because I could not think of a cute way to play on words when one of the things I ponder is whether there is still a place for a long tenured, “one school”, professional these days?

I was someone very happy and comfortable (well, tons of pressure, so let’s say comfortable in a high-pressure environment!) as a Director of Admission at a school that I argued was “different every year” …and it was!   Thus, a 23-year tenure did not allow for moments of boredom.  However, hard as I tried to argue that I was learning and growing, I came to admit that it’s hard to grow without much change in one’s professional life, though I do believe it’s possible depending on your environment.

When I read a report from a group at NACAC in 2014 (NACAC is an organization we often refer to “big sister” of AISAP—that’s a big sister we like, by the way) on advancement of college admission professionals, I noted that a trend in advancing one’s career was: movement.  New jobs, new schools, new zip codes. Not many mind you, but movement was noted as relevant to advancing in the profession.   I confess I love stability (especially when raising a family) but as a practitioner who convinced (perhaps thousands) of families that their child would grow & develop more through a change in high school, and even boarding school, I realized I should probably be aware of my own advice.  Change is good:  new challenges, new colleagues (while keeping connected to former ones ideally), a new seat in the ballpark (or at the faculty meeting) was good, perhaps essential, to growth.

Where am I going with this? When I started in this new position as Director of AISAP’s Leadership Center for Admission and Enrollment Management Professionals, I wanted to take a hard look at the profession, the pathways, and the people in the roles.  To inform and connect you all with each other, through personal stories,  and learn about the life of an admission professional.  Hearing from Pre-k through 12 Professionals as well as College Professionals about their pathways and key decisions along the way, I hope, will inform us all. At AISAP we call this the Power of Association. 

Educational Expos (School Fair 2.0 as I sometimes call them) are meant to leverage the power of association in one element of the event. I have been privileged to have several notable admission professionals “tell their story” this fall to admission professionals prior to the Expos. There are more scheduled for the spring. I hope these Expos, as well as AISAP’s Career Center will be great resources for you as you consider making the right moves...even if the “move” is staying right where you are.  Remember, the central key to growth is education, so please continue to ask, “what’s next?” on your own pathway.

Here’s a look at this year’s  speakers as they share their professional journeys at the Expos. I hope we’ll see you at an event:

Speakers.pngFrom left to right 

Dr. Matt Proto: Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Colby College, Tower School Expo Sept, 2016; 
Beth Whitney: Director of Admission at the Fay School, Derby Academy Expo, Sept 2016;
Erby Mitchell: Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at The Hotchkiss School, Derby Academy Expo, Sept 2016;
Elizabeth Schmitt: Chief Enrollment & Student Affairs Officer at Miss Porter’s School, Derby Academy Expo, Sept 2016;
Dave Kraus:  Director of Admission, Davidson College, Cannon School Expo, April 2017;
Janet Rapelye: Dean of Admission, Princeton University, Princeton Academy Expo, April 2017

Ray Diffley
Director of AISAP's Center for Admission and Enrollment Management Leadership