Tom Friedman, author of The Flat World, suggests that in today’s global, digital society, “Whatever can be done, will be done.” He admonishes all businesses and organizations to take this reality seriously, and to “Ensure that you do it before it is done to you.” It’s fair to say that our board and staff agree with Friedman’s premise in considering the course we have charted for the organization.
We know too well that education is rapidly changing and that independent schools are not immune to these changes. In addition to shifting demographics, big data, technological growth, and research in the area of social and emotional learning (SEL), the size of the entire student population in NAIS member schools is in decline (source: NAIS DASL). Additionally, the rapidly changing market in which admission leaders find themselves is further complicated by the emergence/rapid growth of public charter schools (which offer the independent school model tuition free), by online schools and programs (which offer educationally-ambitious students 24/7 access to excellent teaching and learning), and by growing homeschool cooperatives (which allow parents to educate their children according to their own wishes and desires).
While I argue that admission and enrollment leaders within our community are among the first trend-spotters of what is likely to be a major paradigm change for our community, I had to ask myself: Are we prepared to do something about it?
When I joined the organization three years ago, I sought out talent from inside and outside our organization, restructured staff, and identified areas for organizational improvement and executive attention. Over the last two years, what has become equally urgent is the need for an even greater organizational commitment to the admission profession. Our membership and board clearly indicated that now is the time, and I’m happy to say we are delivering. Our webinar and annual meeting attendance have been at record levels, readership of The Yield has exceeded 5,500, our special reports are being quoted in industry publications, and we have been invited to speak at numerous industry conferences and programs, including NAIS’ Institute for New Heads.
So, friends, as the new school year is upon us, I encourage you to seize the education and training opportunities that we and other colleague organizations provide. The number one issue of our times (as noted by NAIS surveys in 2013, 2014, and likely 2015) — enrollment management—must be lifted to new professional levels, as we engage admission leaders in the hard work of developing strategy to remain sustainable and strong.
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