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Leaders are strong. Leaders are brave. Leaders are stoic. Leaders cry sometimes and talk about hard, personal things. Wait, what? That can’t be right. Or, can it? When I was hired to head up the Admission Office at my alma mater in 2013, I was excited and terrified. As that collision of emotions leaked out of my eyes in a “what have I gotten myself into?” conversation with a trusted mentor, she advised me to watch Brené Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability – if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend YouTube-ing it. What my colleague and Brené helped me embrace and understand, is it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and uncertain, and to even embrace that feeling ...
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I must have used the word “fit” a dozen times a day for the first twenty years of my career in enrollment management. But lately, I am rethinking its use in the realm of admissions (and hiring, but that is a topic for another day.) To me, “fit” conjures the image of trying to stuff something inside a box or filling up container as much as possible while not stressing its perimeter. It is not a far leap from there to recall outdated adages about education being the filling of a vessel. Most educational institutions have strategic plans to ensure that they are constantly learning, growing, and aligning themselves with evolving best practices. Our schools are ...
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Much has been written about how quickly the education landscape is changing, and that pace of change has accelerated significantly during the past few years. Regardless of where you may stand with current enrollment, as schools seek to evolve and adapt to what the market demands, an intentional commitment to student and parent experience will be critical in the years to come. And inspiration can come from unexpected places. Whether or not you’re a baseball fan, the Savannah Bananas are a name you should know. Why? Because day in and day out, the team is providing a real-time masterclass in delivering remarkable customer experiences. Their players aren’t ...
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Are you currently experiencing enrollment management challenges? There can be many reasons for this, from shifting population demographics to enhanced competition or concerns related to tuition or your perceived value, but I believe the most underrated and potentially impactful driver of unmet enrollment goals is simply factors related to SCHOOL CULTURE. More specifically, culture as it relates to the experience your students and families feel on a daily basis. You can implement a new content strategy with a high-functioning website and great user experience, but if your culture stinks, well,...good luck. Too many enrollment management plans I see contain ...
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In the summer of 2008, I moved from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, for a new directorship in admission and marketing. By October of that year, The Great Recession had a grip on the nation. In a bedroom community of realtors and financial sector employees, the effects devastated the schools in my area. If you lived through that and the COVID-19 Recession , you are battle-tested. But those recessions came on in a flash, and quick decisions had to be made. Now, you have the chance to plan for what seems inevitable. Don’t take it from me, though. There is a 98% chance of a global recession Almost every CEO in America is getting ready for a ...
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We all become admission professionals for different reasons – perhaps it’s simply an accident, or we are lifelong tour guides, or it’s the result of our own personal experiences at Independent Schools, or it could be the natural transition from teaching to the desire to try something different professionally. Regardless of the reason, I would be hard-pressed to find an admission professional who doesn’t frequently declare that the thing they most love about their job is the students that they get to work with. While the students are a clear highlight of the work we do, it’s surprising that we don’t more frequently boast about our networks and mentors in the admission ...
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With the images of last week’s devastation in Florida fresh on our minds, it seems nearly impossible to comprehend how the communities that have been literally flattened will ever rise again. Where will all of those displaced families live now? How will the communities even begin to clean up? Can the neighborhoods and schools be rebuilt? How would we handle such a catastrophe if it happened in our community? How can we help? The enormity of these questions is overwhelming. The size and scope of the devastation is difficult to process. And yet – human nature endures. People find ways to move forward. Families manage to get back on their feet. ...
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Will was a gangly eighth grader, a little awkward but totally sincere. The two of us connected in that way that makes admissions work meaningful. He’d hang around after open houses to tell me about his part in the school play. He kept me updated on the minutiae of his life, which I appreciated because he was so earnest about it. The first call I got after decisions went out, and I mean literally the instant they went out, was from him. Fast forward to winter break. Will’s family bought presents for everyone at the school. Not just his teachers, but all the teachers. The front desk crew. The lunch staff. He didn’t play a sport, but our athletic director got ...
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Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, ADHD, Executive Function Disorder, ASD, and many other learning deficit diagnoses, accompanied by acronyms, float around a neurodivergent school, especially this time of year in the admissions office. The admissions cycle is strikingly different in neurodivergent independent schools than it is in traditional independent schools. Neurodivergent schools like to say that we start our re-enrollment process around the same time frame as traditional private schools allowing a similar window and process for families to return contracts. However, we branch pretty far away from traditional private schools with prospective families and new enrollment. ...
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In March 2020, COVID-19 had arrived, and society was asked to effectively shut down. What that meant for The York School was the entire admissions process went virtual and every single touchpoint with families had to be re-imagined: creating a 3D school tour, hosting virtual open houses, conducting online assessments, and interviewing parents and prospective students via Zoom. But we weren’t convinced these were enough to provide prospective families with a true sense for what sets The York School apart. So we opted to embrace the popularity of the podcast medium to develop YORK Talks, a series modelled after our successful YORK Talks presentations typically ...
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The University of California at Berkeley adopted the SAT as a standard for admission in 1967, a good 20 years after the ETS was founded. It was a big feather in ETS’s cap. That delay was partly because the school was on the West Coast and the ETS was an East Coast institution. But the other reason was Berkeley had its own method for finding students (Lemann). Prior to the SAT, Berkeley admitted all qualified high school graduates from the state of California. It was then the job of professors to sift through the freshman class. While not an explicitly stated policy, professors of freshmen generally failed about half their students, straining the grade down to ...
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On a recent WeAdmit podcast , I touched upon crafting personal narratives that I’ve continued to ponder. While the final product is our personal narrative, it’s the process that’s important and understanding that one’s personal narrative will continue to change throughout time. And yes, I'm writing this reflection on my phone on a rainy Saturday morning while waiting for the rest of my house to wake up. The WHY Before we go into the what and how, I like to employ Simon Sinek’s strategy of identifying the why. Why is crafting your personal narrative important? Because your story reveals your values. Your values highlight your brand, and when your brand ...
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By the time admissions professionals finally get to March, and new students have been accepted and enrolled, it’s time to celebrate! But, working within a limited budget sometimes makes that welcoming revelry feel more stressful than celebratory. Getting caught up in trying to compete with the school down the street that delivers new family gifts by helicopter - reminiscent of Oscar swag bags, complete with monogrammed gold headphones and a new car, makes those of us who do not have the same resources struggle to make our new families feel just as special. Fear not, dear colleague. There are other ways to share your excitement with incoming kiddos that are ...
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Family ambassadors are such a gift! How we all appreciate the tremendous value they bring by spreading the word of our school. But have you ever reached out to a family who is apprehensive about “being an ambassador?” Immediately, a look of trepidation falls across their face. “Does that mean I have to give a tour?” Just as we listen to our prospective families about what is important to them in a school and tailor the tour to address these wants, the same goes for asking for parent volunteers. It’s not only determining their comfort level; it’s matching their strengths to the numerous opportunities available for them. At the beginning of the year, ...
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This time of year, many schools announce tuition increases and ask families to commit to attending again in the fall. Retention work, which should be a year-round effort, becomes increasingly important. Regular check-ins with families, sending thoughtful emails home, and hosting an event or two showing student work can help with this effort. However, this year we wanted to do more. Through a concerted effort, asking our own families and faculty to tell us what is so wonderful about our school, we are creating a campaign of written testimonials, videos, and pictures to share among both our school community and the broader world. When asked to reflect on everything ...
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For admissions professionals, the “COVID years” have added enough stress and uncertainty to the market to create the need for some serious design thinking. As some hope emerges on the pandemic front, geo-political tensions – most obviously related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and an increasingly inwardly-focused China – have forced all of us to work within and around an increasingly shifting world order. For some of us, the natural response to grim global news is to turn to nostalgia and to circle the wagons: What has always worked? How do we minimize enrollment risk without losing valuable pipelines? Where are our un- or under-tapped markets closer to home? ...
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In the age of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), there has been an abundance of discussions, newly created positions and departments, and professional development to encourage awareness and fairness for all. However, it’s important to keep in mind that DEI does not only apply to Black or African American people. My personal shift has gone from diversifying largely with the Black population (due to the societal struggles associated with the often insurmountable challenges they face), to including a wider spectrum of diverse people. This comes to mind for me for many reasons. Firstly, I chair a DEI committee at my school, although my professional title ...
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Recall a recent example, personally or professionally, when you instinctively spoke your mind and immediately regretted it. Odds are that more than one instance just popped into your head. The good news - you’re not alone. As humans, our brains are wired to respond emotionally, albeit not always reasonably. The next time you feel angry, we recommend you take what we call the Presidential route to expressing your emotions. Former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson once said, “When angry, count to 10 before you speak. If very angry, count to 100.” The key to this strategy is giving yourself a moment to think things through. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry ...
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As I put pen to paper (or rather, fingers to keys) for this blog post, I am back in the office after a thankfully healthy but far from relaxing holiday break. That is not to say that I didn’t get some quality downtime with family or a few woodworking projects done. Those things happened, because with admissions and financial aid applications in full swing, it’s important to make the time and find the space to recharge. Since the start of the pandemic, I have found a distinct blurring and almost total disappearance of the seasonal nature of this work. There’s no longer a clear end to one admissions season with a time for preparation and a clear beginning ...
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The Admission and Enrollment world has become a year-round busy season, making it difficult for many of us to take time off without some level of stress or guilt. There never seems to be a “good” time to do it, yet it is essential to unplug and recharge in order to fill our tanks. If taking a week off feels challenging, the thought of taking three months away from the office to welcome a baby into the world can feel like scaling Mount Everest. But it is arguably the most valuable time you’ll ever have, and ultimately make you and your office better for it. First, some context. I head up the Admission & Enrollment Office for an age 1 - grade 12 school ...
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