This past week at NJAIS, I had the opportunity to meet Admissions Directors from all over New Jersey.  We had conversations ranging from shop talk, to how North Jersey isn’t anything like South Jersey, to how Crystal Springs Resort makes the BEST waffles & wings. But there was one topic that kept coming up again and again — everyone seemed to be unhappy with their admissions tools.  That concerned me.

During her talk, Heather Hoerle, Executive Director of SSATB, outlined the struggles many schools are encountering with enrollment. It is pretty clear that the focus is shifting from Advancement to Admissions — and the spotlight is getting hotter. Heads of Schools are finally realizing that 80% of tuition revenue is in jeopardy to competitive Independent schools, cautious millennials, and better charter / public schools. As Heather pointed out, four of the ten topics (almost HALF!) discussed at board meetings involve Admissions. Yet many Admissions and Enrollment managers still don’t have a seat at the table.

It is time for that to change.

So what does that change look like?  Well, for one thing, there is little room for error.  Every interested family will need to be tracked and reported — accurately.  Immediate follow up will be expected, not only from the administration, but also from millennial families.  Tailored outreach will be required in order to engage in a meaningful dialogue.  Real-time insight to the admissions pipeline will be paramount.

But, here’s what’s so concerning: you all recognize what needs to happen with your admissions efforts, but far too many of you say you feel “handcuffed” to admissions software that isn’t working.  You say, “IT makes those decisions.” “My HOS wanted an all-in-one.” “The budget just isn’t there.” That needs to end here and now.

It’s time to stand up for the future of your school! Talk with other Admission leaders who have already won the battle at their school. Learn what they did, how they did it, then analyze the impact it had on results. Next, talk with your colleagues and find a solution that makes it easy for families, easy for you, and that is sophisticated enough to take your efforts to the next level. It’s far past time your voice was heard.

I look forward to talking with you all over the next year and can’t wait for NJAIS Admissions Conference 2017!  I’ll bring the chocolate and wine; you make sure the bonfire’s going. Mmm… s’mores.

Now, go get ‘em!

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