Science, with a soul…

So, I was really thinking about the other side of the admission funnel today: The students who AREN’T going to get the thick letter from your office. The families who WON’T be getting the good news through your online portal in a few days. I think about what that conversation around the kitchen table is like.

It was really on my mind, as today is my daughter’s birthday. I got to see photos of her on social media in her school, having a great time with her classmates, as they celebrated with her in their own, silly ways. It was positively heartwarming to see the look of joy on their faces, and to see her look so happy on her special day.

Then, it hit me. There are students all around the world that aren’t going to be in their first choice school.  How do we in the admission profession serve those families, who perhaps wanted more than anything to join our school?

We have been talking to a lot of schools about process management, and especially about visualizing their entire onboarding journey with a family, from first touch all the way through enrollment. Many schools, however, don’t actually have contingencies in place for those families that aren’t a good fit this year. There isn’t a “break up”, per se,  that lets the other party down nicely when a place is not going to be offered. Perhaps it’s time to think about that differently.

I remember how much it upset me as an admission director when a family that we were sure was going to enroll just…didn’t.

If you’re in admissions, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, right?

The questions in our office that arose of “why, and what could we have done better” seemed to hang in the air for weeks after decisions were due. Sometimes, the family will tell you, and usually they don’t. They simply just go on about their lives at their new school. For those families that DON’T get their first choice, it may be time to give them a good “break up”.

As you consider your admission process map, consider the output when the student doesn’t end up getting the good letter. We invest so much emotion in the care and understanding of our prospects, that we owe it to everyone in the  process to take care of and to be honest with our families.

Admission work is the intersection of science and soul.

 

Make sure you care for all parts of your prospective families journeys with you.

 

Are you on top of your game?

I have had the privilege over the past few years of working with some schools that were full. Not full in the way that I used to think of it. Nothing like that actually. In my old paradigm, full meant “on the number, and everyone’s happy”. That perspective was shattered on a school visit in the UK.

I met a school that had admission issues, and they were looking for a solution. Their challenge, however, is one that almost every school I have ever met would kill for. Literally.

This school had a 13 year waiting list.

Let that sink in for a moment.

13 years. They were projected to be completely full for 13 years, with full pay students. Done. Dusted. Wrapped up in a bow.

And yet, this school was concerned with competition, staying ahead of the market and doing things differently, so that they could continue their dominance. That was a refreshing and eye-opening conversation. We didn’t talk about the problems that are inherent in that kind of logjam of paperwork (yes, they still used paper), or the possibility of families falling through the cracks with a 13 year process.

We talked about Staying On Top Of The Game. It was fantastic.

As you think about your state of admissions, where are you? Are you on top of your game? Are you getting the most out of your marketing efforts and attracting the right families to your events? As this school proved, Same Old-Same Old just doesn’t work, especially in this hyper-competitive market.

There is another school in the UK that is bursting at the seams, and they have figured things out. I want you to watch this video, and then think about their reason for doing it:

So…this school took a look at their data. They were full and wanted to stay there. They saw that grandparents were helping to pay tuition of their students. They also wanted to connect with traditional past-times…hence the toys and games that resonate with an older demographic. Once this video aired, they reported one more fascinating statistic: the number one demographic at their open houses were now pregnant women.  Hornsby House kept demand up, without showing anything relating to curriculum, caring faculty, facilities, sport or anything else. It was all about the kids.

You have to congratulate Miles Latham and his team at Affixxius Academic, who asked the right questions and delivered a product that allowed Hornsby House to Stay On Top Of Their Game.

As you plan for your next admission cycle. Think about your market and who you are trying to reach. Think about your goals, and don’t be afraid to think big.

Let’s get YOU on top of YOUR game.

A whole new world…

Getting things started
A New Beginning

There is something magical about the ocean. No matter what you build, no matter what kind of hole you dig, the next day, the beach will be smooth. It’s one of the amazing things of our existence. Every day is a fresh start, and every day reminds you of how fortunate you are.

I have had the chance to meet schools from all over the world, and with nearly every conversation, the recurring theme centered around some sort of admission challenge. It didn’t matter if the school was struggling to fill seats or if they had a waiting list for 13 years (and yes, there are schools like that out there…crazy, right?), they all have some sort of issue that they are trying to solve.

During my time as a Director of Enrollment Management, I was fortunate to work with some heads of school who were visionary and not afraid of a big idea. It was out of these relationships that the seeds of this endeavor was born. John Watson and Rick O’Hara were absolutely vital in the formation of the ideas and tools that I am so thrilled to bring to the market today. I can’t thank them enough for their professionalism, courage, and encouragement during our time together.

The real question you are probably thinking, though, is WHY?

The answer is simple.

Nobody gets into admissions work because they LOVE excel or data.

Admissions people are, by nature, in the position because they are “people” people. They love to meet a new family and bring tremendous enthusiasm for their school to every conversation. However, staff with that vibrant spirit often get little to no training or assistance in implementing processes, which can create gaps in enrollment.

My journey begins with one mission: to help admission offices of all sizes be more efficient. Whether  assisting in process map creation or building strategic enrollment marketing plans, our work together will be collaborative and transformative.  I learn and grow from each conversation, and can’t wait to share my travels and experiences with you.

I have been absolutely overwhelmed and flattered with the early response to this concept.  Schools that are completely full are excited to dig in and get better, and schools that have spaces are eager to fill their seats with new, mission appropriate, full-pay students. It’s going to be a fantastic ride.

As I look at the ocean and the many footprints on the beach this afternoon, I can’t wait for tomorrow. New challenges, new beginnings, and a new conversation with you.

See you at the top!

Jesse