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On March 6, 2012, the Head of my school was killed on campus during the school day by a disgruntled employee who had been fired earlier that day. The shooter also killed himself. Our community was devastated but thankful the loss in our school’s story was limited to just two. As part of the healing process, students and members of our community painted inspirational messages on river rocks, a favorite natural element of our former Head. The rocks were in baskets at the memorial service, and I, along with the hundreds of others in attendance, grabbed one on the way out and read the message: Perseverance.   We are all glad to say goodbye to 2020 and never ...
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Airport lounges. Dinners with current families in exotic restaurants. Buses, planes and gyms with colleagues. Fairs, information sessions, and open houses answering the same questions over and over. Are you like me and missing these things? Terribly? For the admission world, at least here in Ontario (Canada) things changed, dramatically, on March 13. Schools shut down. In my school, we still had our Senior Kindergarten admission season to go, as well as filling a few spots in our non-entry years. My three amazing Senior Kindergarten Senior Admission Counsellors were on Zoom interviews with four-year old boys trying to determine “best fit” and the beginning ...
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In these troubled times, I want to take a moment to share a few words of hope with you. My hope for you is that you are well, safe and healthy. If you are like most of us in admissions and financial aid, you are working differently than you ever have, and working harder than you ever have. In admissions and financial aid, while we all live with some degree of uncertainty, most of us find it challenging to do our best work, when our work environment feels unstable. My hope is that you are secure in your psychological safety and that your psychological resources — like the essence of your resilience and your storage tank of optimism — are not stretched to the limit.  ...
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The more I find myself immersed in the wide variety of schools that make up our AISAP community, the more I believe that every school, regardless of its current state or stage, can benefit from more closely aligning its enrollment practices to better support their school culture. While this point may not be highly disagreeable as a general statement, it is increasingly apparent that fewer and fewer admission and enrollment practices have spent time and attention beginning with their mission and vision and ending it there.  For so many practitioners, the cycle could be described as the "lather, rinse, repeat" - we have done it this way every year. Many spend ...
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Sorry for the error!  To read the article, actually written by Janice Crampton, Executive Director| CEO, AISAP please click here:  When Culture Impacts Admission Practices .
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There are days when I feel as if I am doing just fine despite the hard times we are all living through. Then there are days when I walk around the boarding school campus where I live and see masked students distanced from each other underneath big outdoor tents, and I can't help but think I’m in the midst of some strange dream. Who would have believed last year at this time that we would be doing virtual open houses and interviewing students and families over Zoom?! It’s why I was especially excited for AISAP to host 250 admission and enrollment professionals at recent Conversations with Colleagues where AISAP members came together to share ideas and learn ...
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In an episode of “Mad Men,” two ad account executives were candidates for a promotion. The unsuccessful candidate asked to see Don Draper to ask why he did not win the job.  Don said, “You do so much for your clients and you work hard to solve their problems.”  So why did the other guy get the job?  Don offered gently that “He makes the client feel like he has no problems.” Of course, the point Don was making is that the successful candidate anticipated his client’s needs and was proactive, rather than reactive.  Thinking of the families we have in our candidate pipelines every year, I can only imagine how mystified some of them are with the process we ...
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The calendar reads September, and social media is constantly reminding me that we are “back-to-school.” But, it certainly does not feel like that in the way we all remember. This new feeling reflects uncertainty at a time when I always felt renewal. Nothing feels familiar or cyclical. When I look at my calendar, it makes me realize we can’t approach this year’s process with the same methods or metrics we used in the past. If you’re simply recycling what you’ve done in the past, my advice is to simply stop – because nothing is business as usual. While there may be some common threads or transferrable practices, we cannot be confident what worked before will ...
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Another great year of the AISAP Annual Institute in the books! We saw an extraordinary amount of participation from attendees through the live Q&A, polling, and chatting during sessions - not to mention truly robust Cohort and Affinity Group meetings. Not only were we inspired and empowered by our presenters, but we also saw our community of professionals EMPOWER one another with strategies to lead our schools toward a brighter future, a future where ENGAGING everyone in different ways will promote new ideas, commitment to best practice and will continue to ELEVATE the profession. Here are some thoughts I shared with attendees: Now, the real work begins. ...
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Admissions and the Black Lives Matter Movement: We Are Stronger Together – Part II Anita Hilson,  Executive Director, Open Door Care When I accepted my first position in admissions in 2001, I found that I was one of very few African American admissions professionals in an area saturated with independent schools. When I was promoted to Director of Admissions in 2003 – a position I held for nine years -- the percentage of African Americans in that leadership role was even smaller. In 2020, the diversity in admissions teams has increased, but it is still not unusual to find schools nationwide without anyone of color in such an important role in the life ...
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Admissions and the Black Lives Matter Movement: We Are Stronger Together – Part I Anita Hilson,  Executive Director, Open Door Care The summer break for most schools nationwide has begun. But educators and administrators are not getting too comfortable – not breathing a sigh of relief just yet. In the time of COVID, which required schools everywhere to immediately shift gears into remote learning, teachers and administrators became instant best friends with Zoom and the terms “synchronous” and “asynchronous.” Now that summer is here, the normal time for rest and relaxation will be interrupted with significant work to perfect the remote learning program ...
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A typical June is filled with graduations, farewells, and the hustle and bustle of the last few things we need to complete before the school year turns the page. Sharing summer plans and goals are the central topics of end-of-the-year faculty meetings and luncheons. It’s also a time for ironing out details like host families and new student buddies for the next academic year. But June 2020 is not a typical June to say the least . As I reflect on the conversations I’ve had this month and what was said and asked, I also ponder what was really said and asked. There is a difference. And it brings me to some thoughts on defining our new rules of engagement. ...
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I came to my current role without much in the way of training. While I had been in education for well over a decade in a variety of capacities, six years ago, I made the transition from upper school dean of students to director of admissions and enrollment. It was not without trepidation. I was interested in the work but nervous about how to go about doing it properly. I accepted the job with one caveat – that I could attend the AISAP Annual Institute that summer. Conversations with colleagues had convinced me that the event was the strongest learning opportunity available to someone like me. And it was clear I needed to switch into organizational planning ...
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As enrollment and admission professionals, we play many roles, but lately I’ve been cast as fortune teller. I grab my veils, set the mood lighting and thunk my crystal ball on the table so everyone in the Zoom meeting can see it. Will we lose a lot of enrolled students if we don’t re-open our campus in September? How large does our COVID-19 emergency fund need to be to retain and enroll students? What will the impact of this pandemic be on the school for the next 3-5 years? While these are all worthy questions to consider, how can we demonstrate leadership and offer insights when the situation is novel ? Gather Evidence Just as our amazing schools educate ...
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Like any number of others involved with education, I’ve always taken comfort in the cyclical nature of the school year. There’s always been a certain rhythm and cadence that lends itself to the planning I need to accomplish to do my job well. And now, needless to say, that calendar has not only been turned upside down – it’s been thrown out the window. So how do I pivot mid-stream? As admission and enrollment professionals, you are going through a similar ordeal, and we acutely feel your pain.  By way of example, to host our Annual Institute, there are a tremendous number of moving parts that lend themselves to certain times of the year – and nearly all of ...
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In the midst of sending out admission decision letters, we find ourselves managing the angst and worry of our students, current parents, faculty and staff, trustees, other colleagues and newly admitted families. We have been joining hurriedly scheduled conference calls and webinars with medical and safety experts, peer schools, accrediting associations and legal counsel. We are gathering as much accurate and current data on Covid-19 and how to best keep our communities healthy and safe. We are meeting as an administrative team crafting informative while reassuring communications to our families and sharing detailed plans for possible school closure. Some schools ...
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Post Acceptance Blues In Toronto, many of the independent schools have common offer and acceptance dates. This year February 21st was offer day, and February 26 was acceptance day. I was happy to report to our Principal on the afternoon of the 26th that we are full! Offers went out at 7 am on the 21st, so too did the waitlist and decline messages. I find it interesting, eight years into my current role/school, that we put as much attention and effort into the last two groups as we do those we admit. The number of phone calls and emails I have had since February 21…I have done virtually nothing else in that time but respond to families wondering “Why did you ...
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At face value, Net Tuition Revenue (NTR) is the dollars generated for the school by the influx of tuition. For most schools, tuition revenue comprises the vast majority of the annual operating budget. When that operational need is not fully met, then schools need to make some tough decisions that impact the short and long-term sustainability of the institution. There may be some sense that adopting NTR is something that a school might do at the end of the year when the financial aid budget is exhausted. The trouble with that approach is that it does not work as a repeatable strategy since it is derived from sheer necessity rather than from a strategic position. ...
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A Non-Traditional Career Trajectory Tricia Xavier, Director of Admissions and Enrollment at The Gooden School If you were to tell me years ago, a new actor fresh out of art school with a coveted Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, that I would end up in independent schools and become an admissions professional, I would have laughed ... and then cried ... and then laughed again (because I was a trained actor, and I could)! My journey to the independent school world was anything but traditional. I slogged through years of production work, management, agencies, casting - anything within my (then) chosen field that I could get my hands-on to survive. I loved ...
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Communal Wisdom and our Community of Colleagues In the very crowded marketplace of independent school education, enrollment managers and admission professionals must engage with a community of learners to be successful. In my work, I find that I am called on to be an expert and prognosticator in domains ranging from the future of education to the facts and meaning behind shifting current and future demographics, price elasticity, volunteer management, competitive market analyses, issues of diversity and inclusion, sophisticated marketing and communications plans, and more often than not family therapy. As Yuval Noah Harari states in his book, 21 Lessons ...
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