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.


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