A Start-of-the-Year Snapshot

September 12, 2016 Heather Hoerle
A Start-of-the-Year Snapshot

Welcome back to a new school year.  I know, as a former admission professional, how exciting the opening days of school can be!  Isn’t it satisfying to see the new class of students that you recruited and stewarded through the admission process, finally appear at your school?   From the class of 2017 to the class of 2029, I am sure that you’ve enjoyed the immense satisfaction that comes from welcoming new students while also gearing up to begin the next admission cycle.

At The Enrollment Management Association, we are also gearing up for the school year ahead. Our new name and branding are reinvigorating our work, but our charge remains the same. As we look ahead to serving our member schools in the coming year, we wanted to stop and take a 30,000-foot look at our membership, both the schools and the individuals who make up the heart of this association.

Who are the schools and individuals of The Enrollment Management Association?

The demographic profiles from our just-released 2016 State of Independent School Admission Industry report provide a snapshot. Although the numbers represent only those who responded to the survey, overall trends are representative of our full membership.

  • Compared to the 2013 State of the Independent School Admission Industry report, this report reflects a slightly higher percentage of responses from day schools.
    In the wider K-12 independent school landscape, day schools outnumber boarding schools and many more of our day school professionals answered the survey this year. We remain committed to helping both day schools and boarding schools with their enrollment challenges, some of which are similar but many of which are different.
  • Overall, schools responding to the survey were slightly smaller in size than in our previous survey in 2013.  We found evidence of the wider trend of overall student loss in independent schools inside of our survey results. Notably, there was an increase in survey participation from our smallest sized schools (less than 201 students).
  • Survey participants were well spread geographically.
    Just like politics, all enrollment issues are “local.”   And we discovered that region matters a great deal in the enrollment equation; our member schools face different challenges based on their location. As your national eyes and ears, we will remain vigilant to identifying these nuances and supporting solutions to them.
  • We had more female respondents this round. Responding boarding school directors of admission were 50% female and 50% male. At day schools, 82% were female. We have known for some time that women dominate this work at independent schools, and our survey certainly underscored this fact.

Our 2016 State of the Industry report also reveals insights about where we are as a community of schools. Trends that came through loud and clear include the following: about half of our member schools are struggling to meet enrollment goals and many are recruiting more international students, giving more merit aid, and implementing more flexible enrollment deadlines in order to get close to their goals. Our member-school enrollment leaders are seeking -- but not attaining -- a high enough influence inside key decision-making roles which relate to their work, such as tuition setting and financial aid management. We continue to hear that the biggest barrier to enrollment success remains tuition. Despite a huge rise in the number of charter schools and for-profit school networks, member school professionals still describe their local independent school counterparts as their greatest source of competition.

As we work through many of these challenges, and lean in to a more complex and competitive environment than years past, please know that all of my colleagues at The Enrollment Management Association stand ready to support you in attaining enrollment success.  Here’s to a new year of growth, challenges and continued networking!

 membership snapshot16

About the Author

Heather Hoerle

Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer

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