What a fantastic week of Admissions conversations in Baltimore at the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP) Summer Institute! It is truly remarkable how far AISAP has come over the past ten years. The program variety and strength of the Institute is testament to the dedication and passion of Admissions professionals. To that end, thank you to those of you who participated in “The Scale Admission and Marketing Performance Survey” sponsored by AISAP and SchoolAdmin. The data you provided will help unlock the door to wisdom for us all.

Important Lessons from College Admissions

In her keynote, Joyce Smith, CEO of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reminded us all just how difficult admission work is, yet how rewarding it can be. She gave us insight into the changing dynamics and challenges in the College Admission profession, with stories of dramatically increased applicant pools and rapidly declining yields, resulting largely from the Common Application. Joyce spoke with a longing for the not too distant “old days” when smaller applicant pools allowed for a focus on building individual relationships with prospective students. This is no longer the norm in college admissions. Her message was sobering.

Relationships :: Yield

The survey results from “The Scale” told us something that we all intuitively knew, but couldn’t quite quantify: stronger relationships lead to higher yield. In fact, across all schools, we saw a strong correlation between the quality time spent with each applicant and the likelihood that the applicant will ultimately enroll.

Admission professionals also want to contribute more to the top of their funnel. We see evidence to this in the growing adoption of Independent School focused shared/common applications. Participating schools are reporting increased applicants as a result of participation in these groups. However, “The Scale” survey results show a significantly lower yield across the board on applications collected through these sources.

Doing More with Less

So how can Independent Schools get the best of both worlds? Is it even possible to work a larger applicant pool using similar resources, without sacrificing the personal connection and ultimate yield? One solution may be to focus additional efforts on generating more inquiries, building the relationship early, ultimately converting a larger number of high quality and high probability applicants, protecting yield.

While the solution is up for debate, every school that joined us for a one-on-one session to review their benchmarking survey data from “The Scale” agreed that their results in this specific area are a major focus for them in the upcoming admissions cycle. Admission Directors are talking about the efforts they exert on branding, messaging, and targeting of profile-fit-students. They are trying to figure out how to be more efficient, yet more personal and effective.

More about “The Scale – Admission and Marketing Performance Survey”

At SchoolAdmin, we stand alongside you in your pursuit of the perfect class, smoothest of processes, and most efficient enrollment. To that end, we were thrilled to work hand-in-hand with AISAP to create a benchmarking survey for admission professionals.

If you weren’t at the conference, if you didn’t get a chance to participate in “The Scale” or if you still want to schedule one-on-one time with us to discuss your results, you have not missed the opportunity. While the official survey is closed, we can still help you to benchmark your admissions numbers to see how you measure up. We are happy to book some time with you at your convenience.

Contact us to see how your school compares to others


Until then, a huge ‘Thank you!’ to AISAP, Bryn Mawr, Baltimore and all the brilliant attendees for a fantastic time!

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  • Good points, but all yields are not created equal. It’s critical to break out yield data for lots of enrollment subsets: international students (possibly by country), domestic students (boarding/day, possibly by state or region), by grade, referral source, and certainly by gender. The driver of yield is, as it always has been, the value proposition: why paying for “expensive excellent” is better than “free pretty good.”

    • Larry-Thanks for the comment, and your assessment is spot on. Admissions professionals need to be able to dig in to all segments of yield, as well as the underlying drivers, to understand how and why our processes work or break down. The Value Proposition, as you point out, is what makes independent education such a wonderful option for families.

  • Larry, thanks for the feedback! I, too, strongly agree that yield must be measured across multiple segments. At SchoolAdmin, we even go so far as to suggest you may want to measure yield for something as refined as an atheltic interest. ie, “What is my selectivity and yield on international students with an expressed interest in soccer?” Easy access to this type of data gives admissions professionals insight into where and how they may want to focus (or refocus) their efforts. With regard to the value propostion, I think you are absolutely right when communicating the overall value of an Independent School Education. However, I feel like the yield driving value prop is different when multiple “expensive excellent” schools are competing for the same applicant – an effect that can be exaggerated with common applications. In this scenario, applicants may have already decided against “free pretty good”. In that case, I think it is about communicating specific, targeted messages about your school that will resonate most personally with individual applicants.

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