by Reto Camenzind, Head of Admissions - Senior School, St. George’s School (Vancouver, BC)
Ten months ago as I was starting the Leadership in Enrollment Management certificate program through the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice (CERPP) at USC’s Rossier School of Education, I was determined not to repeat a typical pattern of mine. Too often in the past, I had participated in professional development conferences that inspired me to take pages and pages of notes. I would return to campus with a backlog of emails, a busy week of meetings, and the disappointment of knowing that those notes were unlikely to come out of the “conference notes” file in my desk.
As I progressed through the first few weeks of the CERRP program, I was excited by how relevant the topics were to the challenges our own admission team faced. Given the unique approaches that were being presented by faculty and the great ideas generated within our online independent school cohort discussion boards, I wanted to ensure I could translate these ideas into our own admission plan at St. George’s School.
Because the CERPP program runs throughout the independent school admission "busy season" from October through April, I recognized that I would need to be patient and wait for the right time to suggest changes to our process. I decided I would incorporate some ideas from the program into our annual retreat.
Our department’s most productive, collaborative, and creative day of the year is the strategic retreat. For one day each May, we leave the distractions of our campuses, our phones, our colleagues - and yes, even our prospective families - behind for an off-campus strategic retreat. As a department committed to continually improving our process, we use this opportunity to reflect on our current admission process and to create a set of action items that will shape our admission plan for the year ahead. What made our strategic retreat different this year was that our agenda was shaped not only by our department’s internal reflections, but also by the concepts and ideas I had learned through my participation in the CERPP program.
One of these concepts was to continually re-evaluate your school’s policies and the assumptions embedded within these policies, as they are pivotal factors in shaping admission outcomes. This approach led to a retreat discussion about applying our cumulative application fees for families to both admission and financial aid. After evaluating how these cumulative application fees act as a barrier to recruiting new families, we decided to reduce them for the year ahead. This discussion and our decision to update our policies was just one instance when I felt the CERPP program was worthwhile and was encouraged that I had indeed NOT placed what I had learned into that “conference notes” file.
While our strategic retreat allowed for a specific forum through which I could translate what I had learned in the CERPP program into our admission process, it is certainly not the only way in which my experience will impact our department. My participation in the program over the past year has greatly broadened my knowledge about both K-12 independent school and higher education enrollment management. The perspectives I gained from faculty and peers have deepened my understanding of the complexities of enrollment management, and this will continually be translated through to our admission plan at St. George’s School in the years ahead.
In the comments section below, please share how you have translated what you have learned through your professional development opportunities into your own school’s admission plan.