April – in like a lion, out like a…well, it depends.

April 11, 2017 Carson D. Roy
April – in like a lion, out like a…well, it depends.

by Carson Roy, Director of Admission and Financial Aid, The Potomac School (VA)

While we all know what most admission offices look like in January and February, the scene is far less predictable in April. With decisions sent and various deadlines looming, April takes on a unique meaning to each individual admission office. Two constants about this month remain, however: a) it is a stressful time for many of us, and b) we all hope that the fruits of our labor during the preceding months pay off with a fantastic incoming class. Wherever you are in the process right now, please know that many of us are thinking about similar things. I’m hoping that you will be able to relate to at least a few of the scenarios below and have a chuckle:

  • For many of us, decisions have been mailed out, revisit programs are finished, and we’re either refreshing our portals every seven minutes to see who has enrolled or stalking our local mail delivery people. (I hope most of you are doing things electronically by now; those mail carriers deserve a break!)
  • The majority of us are engaging in office conversations along these lines: “I can’t believe X family didn’t enroll; they told us we were their first choice” or “How the heck did we get X family to enroll? They were on their cell phones during the entire revisit program and didn’t seem that interested!”
  • Some of us might be feeling a bit burned by a placement director or educational consultant, while others are adding a certain consultant to their holiday card list because they’re so grateful for their help.
  • A few of us are wondering why an accepted family needs an “extension” beyond the reply date, even though they’ve had a month to figure out their decision.
  • Some of us are debating over whether to extend a current family that extra $2,000 financial aid grant to get them re-enrolled versus trying to find another family to fill that spot.
  • 99.99% of us are wishing we had a larger financial aid budget.
  • None of us are getting a call from a newly enrolled family saying they want to pay the tuition twice because they know demographics are trending downward in your area and want to "help the cause."
  • Nearly all of us are currently tracking down those final re-enrollment contracts that might be labeled inconspicuously on our desktops as “The Usual Suspects.” We may even be devising crafty tactics to apply some gentle pressure to said suspects, such as promising, “We’ll be going to our wait list if we don’t receive your contract by X date.” Some of us have a waiting list we can actually turn to, while some of us do not and are hoping that the threat scares them enough to complete the contract.
  • A number of us are wondering why we didn’t take a few days off in March and have already Googled “New Orleans weather in September” as we are thinking ahead to The Enrollment Management Association’s Annual Conference.
  • A few of us are regretting putting a certain applicant on the wait list, while others are kicking themselves for accepting another.
  • A couple of us are questioning what we were thinking back in October when we scheduled a spring open house for May.
  • For some of us, enrollment has really just begun, and we’re anticipating a long summer, while a fortunate few of us are fully enrolled and already looking ahead to the 2017-18 recruitment year. Either way, the cycle never ends!

As we head into the middle of this often-stressful month, I’m hoping that a couple of these scenarios resonate with you. Remember, we all experience the ups and downs of this profession. The good news is that the work we do is critical to our schools’ continued success. An enrollment manager’s scope of work far exceeds just filling seats and funding the budget. We help to ensure a good match between what our schools offer and what students and families need and want. In the end, we play a central role in ensuring that our schools continue to be vibrant learning communities where every student has great opportunities to learn and grow.

And the other good news? It’s almost May!

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