We Are Not An Island

August 8, 2018 Margaret Marks

In September 2017, as I started the CERPP program, I was excited to take the next step in becoming an enrollment management “professional.” I entered this field only a few years ago and felt I had so much to learn to ensure that I was giving my best to my school. I attended two EMA annual conferences and completed the ATI (Admission Training Institute) at my first conference. The CERPP program was the perfect next step for me to learn from many experts and peers in the field so that my own skillset could continue to help our admission team navigate the changing landscape of enrollment management. It was also a great way to build a network of people outside my school and area.

The work we do is engaging, interesting, and at times, all-consuming. From September through April I am rarely far from my laptop. My focus has been on creating and implementing the best admission experience that I can, and to enroll a great new group of students to join our community each year. It is easy to get caught up in the daily tasks and events and interviews during our busiest months. As I started to engage in the program, I realized that although it is important to work professionally and focus on creating a great admission process, I also need to better understand my team’s place in the institution as a whole. We need to understand where we fit, and we need to make sure we fit in. I realized that I had become too focused on my own tasks and needed to step back and look at more than just admission.

In Jerry Lucido’s paper “Speaking Truth to Power” he wrote about leadership. In the forum that week we discussed which leadership approaches would have the greatest potential for success in our institutions. It clicked for me that “We are not an island” was the approach we most needed to focus on at my school. This was not the first time in the program that we read about the importance of garnering institutional support, but that week, and at that point in my admission season, I connected it all and began to truly appreciate how much of an island my admission team had become. This made me look back at other topics we had covered on creating allies at our schools and working to make stronger partnerships. I came up with a plan in my institution to strengthen connections and ensure that our team stays more involved and engaged in the community. Our processes and outcomes are strengthened and more successful if we have buy-in from the rest of the community and if we are continually up to date on all that is happening around our school.

Our team is located in a small building surrounded by only a few other staff members, and I have missed out on many things that have happened around the campus. Thinking more about this, I realized that I needed more connection with the campus and the faculty and students.  After I re-read many readings and looked back at discussions with classmates, I started to think about ways I could be more involved in the greater community. I sent out a survey to all faculty and staff, set up some meetings with key people around campus, and let people know our interest in connecting.  Armed with the information we gathered from those steps, we also added some training to the faculty/staff orientation in August. Before we ask for help at events and bring countless visitors through their classrooms, we will introduce ourselves to our faculty, and hopefully these continued efforts will help us stay better connected throughout the year. I will also coach cross country in the fall to connect more to our current students.

As I completed the certificate, I was very focused each week on completing my assignments and I did not look up to see whole picture of what I was learning until it all came together at the end with the case studies. At that point I realized I had developed new skills in assessing the status of enrollment in a school and planning needed changes. As the enrollment world continues to change rapidly, these skills will be important to ensure the success of my school.

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