The Independent Schools of St. Louis (ISSL), early adopters of the SAO, decided a few years ago to pursue other application options that they felt would better suit their needs. Yet, after a less than satisfactory experience, ISSL looked anew at the SAO.
“We always saw a value in a common application,” said Jamie Driver, Executive Director, Independent Schools of St. Louis (ISSL). “And when our consortium started the review process, we quickly saw that the SAO had become a one-stop shop for families—using just one login to register for the test and apply to one of our schools. The combination eliminates barriers, and is clearly the best tool for tracking the status of an application. This helps anxious families feel in control and lessens some of their anxiety, while removing the burden of family calls so many admission offices receive day after day. We have to put families first in this process and the SAO does just that.”
From a school perspective, Driver explained that the ISSL group was impressed at the evolution of the SAO, noting that many of the recommendations presented by ISSL schools had been implemented over the years, improving the product tenfold. “After multiple groups attended or viewed the demo of the SAO, an overwhelming majority voted yes, noting that The Enrollment Management Association responded to product feedback and that the SAO product included items like forms covering all grades (PK-PG), online teacher recommendations, and the ability to submit a supplement. Seeing that so many of ISSL’s suggestions had been implemented has made the transition easy,” she explained.
ISSL schools were concerned about maintaining the identity of the application specific to each school, but Driver explained that the SAO put the consortium at ease. “Some schools may worry that with a standard application there is no way to set your school apart from the others, yet the SAO allows supplements that quickly allow schools to maintain and address their identity and culture in the application process with just the upload of a PDF. It was a great selling point for our schools.”
The ISSL community will be ready to accept applications for the 2015-2016 school year. “Our schools are in set-up mode, and the training provided by The Enrollment Management Association has been tremendous,” she noted. “Whenever I’ve had a question, everyone is so timely in getting back to me, and I have heard our member schools experiencing this same level of response. We’re thrilled that customer service is available and relish in the fact that the same level of support is there for our families.”
Still, Driver explains that the decision is about more than just the SAO. “From the association side, The Enrollment Management Association is at the forefront of trends that affect every one of our schools. It’s so important to our schools and membership to have the robust professional development support from The Enrollment Management Association to help reach our career goals, to have the test to support student assessment, and to access data from all the services to help us make our informed decisions. The SAO is just part of the full package that The Enrollment Management Association can offer, and we’re thrilled to get our schools using this fantastic product.”