As we say goodbye to our students and ease into the rhythm of summer, I reflect back on a year of tremendous professional growth born from the many challenges and well-deserved successes we experience in admission. In addition to the regular cycle of busy recruiting, tough admission decisions, and the bittersweet nature of enrollment season, 15 independent school admission colleagues and I dove deep into our profession through the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program offered at USC’s Rossier School of Education, Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice (CERPP). For 30 weeks we read, discussed, challenged, and analyzed the many facets of our profession with the guidance of some of our nation’s top admission professionals – 14 active enrollment leaders from places like Stanford, MIT, Dickinson, UCLA, Boston College, Rutgers, Florida State, and more.
Those of us working in the field today know that admission has moved far beyond the intake of applications and being a welcoming front office staff. With the increased competition and pressures of the marketplace, we need to be able to collect and analyze data, communicate to and garner support from our colleagues and school leadership, reach targeted enrollment and revenue goals, implement marketing campaigns and evaluate the ROI, and generally effect change within our organizations. These are not simple tasks, and many of us learn them on the job or figure them out for ourselves. Consequently, many of us feel a little lost or unsure in some of these areas.
One of the greatest benefits of the certificate program is that we learned from others who have come before us and networked with our independent school colleagues on how issues are addressed at other schools. We studied the theoretical, discussed the realities, and then applied our knowledge within the context of our own schools. We did this week after week – starting with the basics of defining enrollment management, moving to where the “rubber meets the road” with recruitment, selection, and the strategic use of financial aid, and ending with passionate debates surrounding ethical issues of equity and access – all of which culminated in real-life case studies that utilized our newfound understanding gained over the previous weeks.
So much of this program allows you to think about what we do on a different level. I got particular value from the topics relating to garnering institutional support, learning and understanding the politics of our organizations, and the ethical reflections around equity, access, financial aid, and the role admission plays in society. The program is designed to allow for great self-reflection: Who are we as leaders? What do we believe in? How do we work within (more often than not) imperfect systems?
I could list out for you every weekly topic and the impressive faculty member who taught it, which would showcase the depth and expanse of this invaluable program, but a brief blog doesn’t offer the space or time for this (see it all on the program’s website). Instead, I encourage you to reach out to me or any of my CERPP colleagues. We’re listed on the SSATB website and would be happy to answer any of your questions. Many of us will be presenting at the SSATB Annual Meeting in Baltimore this September, so please feel free to seek us out! You can also get the insider’s perspective by reading past blog posts from my brilliant colleagues.
There are very few educational opportunities out there specifically designed for admission professionals. If you’ve been thinking about ways to enhance your “hire-ability,” expand your expertise, and further your education, but want something that is truly applicable to what you do, I encourage you to apply to this program. After eleven years in this business, I can honestly say I learned something new every week and feel more assured than ever in my chosen profession.