May 13, 2016

Admissions Tasks as Marketing Opportunities (and not just paper-pushing)

Many schools call their enrollment management offices by the name “admissions”. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that title, admissions is actually a very small piece of an integrated strategic enrollment management approach. The admissions department at a hospital is a great analogy; the admissions department is where you go to fill out paperwork, jump through hoops, and, eventually, be “admitted”. This is clearly not the only function of what we call the “admission office” in schools.

As part of a strategic enrollment management program, “admissions” is defined as the actual activity that families engage in as part of the application process. While some schools enjoy deep waitlists and a very comfortable pool of potential families, the reality is that most tuition driven schools must constantly be recruitment-minded; that is to say, admissions functions must remain focused on outreach, promotion, and marketing.

When evaluating your own admissions functions, consider spots where families may hit hiccups in your process. Is it easy to schedule a visit? Are recommendation forms readily available? Is your phone system simple to navigate? Also consider how you might integrate marketing activities into admission tasks. How are you using the time when students are being evaluated to engage with parents? What follow up are you doing after a student visit? How are you interacting with recommendation writers?

An effective strategic approach to admissions functions includes an understanding of and commitment to an outstanding level of service. There is no room for anything other than personalized visit experiences, smooth transitions between levels of the enrollment funnel, and gold glove treatment of applicant families. Each distinct step in your admission process is an opportunity to more deeply engage the families in your funnel. The summer is an ideal time to reflect on each of these moments and, if needed, develop more fully your touch points with potential families.

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