Jun 13, 2022

Placing Growth in Context

Why exactly would a school or college grow? The thought of increased enrollment often becomes a lighting rod conversation with faculty on many campuses, with many assuming that with growth comes limitations or sacrificing some critical cultural aspect of the organization. We’ve all heard the argument:

If we grow, we won’t be the same, special place that we once were.


I have often believed that sentiment is inherently biased and limited in perspective. Now, with a sizable portion of the independent school and college sector experiencing some level of enrollment growth, it might be wise to place the concept of growth in context.

My experience tells me that great schools and colleges focus on growing not to earn more revenue but because they believe deeply that their mission benefits others. Keep in mind that schools and colleges are non-profits which are, by their nature, designed to transform society.

Remember, we have three broad industry sectors with three distinct missions in America.

  • The corporate sector has a mission to make a profit.

  • The government sector has a mission to create and manage policy.

  • And, the nonprofit sector has a mission to transform society. We do that through education in our division of this sector.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that making money is a bad idea. Not at all. Actually, I believe it is an outcome of having a relevant mission. But, having a mission and vision that is contributing to something larger than your organization is where the real growth exists.

In other words, growth is about impact. So, when I hear a school or college tell me that they don’t want to grow, I honestly assume that they have placed some natural limitations on their ability to impact or influence the world.

I believe that those organizations that believe so deeply in their mission also truly believe the world would be better if more people bought their product or service. Far too many organizations create strategic plans for growth to strengthen themselves. We need to use our plans to strengthen our world. It is more inspiring when you are working toward not just a better organization, but a better world. When you think of growth in terms of external impact, it places your work in a far more inspired perspective.

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