It may seem obvious, but a key element of your role as an enrollment manager, and especially as a strategic enrollment manager, is to help your school understand the intersection of market conditions and school goals. This is very difficult to do without regular, meaningful interaction with decision makers about vision, budget, and curriculum or programmatic changes. As you create or contribute to agendas for meetings with the senior team, the Head of School, or board members, it is wise to be sure to include significant time for discussion on these issues. You can advance the conversation by being prepared with data that supports your claims, concerns, and ideas.
Most admission officers and enrollment managers have a seat at the senior administrative table (please tell me you do!), and some have a seat at the finance committee of the board, but few attend regular board meetings, leading to the proverbial “telephone” game to learn about big picture institutional goals. The lack of your presence there means that you are essentially implementing the vision of the board, rather than partnering with them to create it. Your responsibility to share information regarding the external marketplace risks being lost in translation or not being given the time or weight it deserves, unless you are lucky enough to work with a Head of School or board chair who really “gets it”. The good news is that we do see an increase in those who “get it”. The bad news is that you may not be working in one of those institutions.
Setting meetings at key times of year with your Head of School to share data and competitive landscape information will help him or her do their job well and will assist in advancing enrollment goals that serve the institution at large. The majority of people on campus are focused on what’s happening inside the institution. You are one of the few people who’s eyes and ears are focused both inside and outside, therefore providing a balance of information that is essential for smart, responsible strategic enrollment planning.