A Comprehensive Communication Plan Aids the Successful Rollout of The Character Skills Snapshot at Marist School

At Marist School (Georgia), the admission team has long been focused on finding a way to measure character in the admission process.

Associate Director of Admissions Angela Elledge explains, “In the same five years that our school has been working with EMA to develop The Character Skills Snapshot, at Marist we have taken several steps to develop the noncognitive piece of our application process. We changed the applicant interview to be a group interview — with the goal of looking at how the student reflects teamwork, self control, initiative, resilience, and so forth, in that interview. We’ve also reworked the questions in our teacher evaluation to try to gain a better understanding of how the student feels about himself or herself.”

As the 2017-18 season approached, after some consideration of waiting a year, Elledge and her team decided to “jump in” and require The Character Skills Snapshot in their application process.

Once they had committed to including The Snapshot, the team worked to integrate it fully and comprehensively into their communication about the application process.

“Because it was a new requirement, we made sure to mention The Snapshot in all of our touch points. It was in our application, on our website, and in all of our literature. We talked about it at prospective parent coffees and on family tours, explaining that the assessment gave us an opportunity to learn more about their children at this moment in time. We said there were no right or wrong answers to the assessment; rather, the results would give us one more piece of information for our holistic review. We made use of the informational pieces that EMA provided, picking and choosing the phrases that worked for us. We also provided links to the guides Because Character Matters and How to Access The Snapshot for parents to learn more about the tool.”

With this clear communication leading the way, the rollout of this new application requirement to about 550 families went smoothly.

At assessment time, Elledge explains that when they began evaluating applicants, they found the results complemented information at which they were looking. “In some cases, they brought to light areas of a student’s character we hadn’t considered. In other cases, The Snapshot report helped us fill in missing pieces.” She continues, “Beyond the assessment piece, The Snapshot has also given us a profile of our incoming class — the strengths and challenges as a whole.”

"For our school, and likely for others,” concludes Elledge, “we’re already looking for evidence of character skills. The Snapshot provides that evidence in a way we are not capturing fully at any other point in the application.”

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