Admission Officers: Critical to the Core of Private Schools Interview with Janice Crampton, Executive Director AISAP

How can school admission professionals be relevant to families when promoting their school?

First, I encourage admission professionals to understand what I call the School Mission Promise. The school, and especially the admission professionals, needs to know the core mission of the school and what differentiates it from other schools in the area.

Schools need to show prospective parents what the outcome of student attendance will be. Along with clearly articulating the mission, families want to know why they should choose your school. Generally, there is a reason they are coming to look at your school. Often, there is something at the current school that the family feels could be better educationally or socially — something that needs to be fixed. A successful admission officer knows how to ask probing questions to see if the school is a good fit for the student.

Also, there needs to be authenticity. This goes back to showing, not just telling, families about your school. There needs to be language used that mirrors the reality of what is happening on campus. Let parents hear from students and teachers, have them visit classrooms. Be transparent and tell the story and traditions of your school in a compelling manner.

Is there a “secret sauce” admission officers can use for hooking new families to come to their school?

It’s important to be clear and consistent in the message, feel, and flavor of your school. We all recognize that campus tours and open houses aren’t always perfect and may not go as planned, but they are important in the conversion factor of inquiry to application. Make sure that the in-person visit message matches the written admission materials.

Support your School Mission Promise with data on graduates and alumni success. Finally, if it is possible, personalize a visit for your prospect. Let guests be known around campus. Use signage, announcements, and mentors to make the prospective student feel welcome.

What does AISAP do?

AISAP does many wonderful things! In 2005, AISAP, the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals, was formed to meet the advancing needs of admission and enrollment management staff members at private schools. We started with 63 founding schools and now have over 700 member schools and 6,000 individual members — not just from independent schools.

We support all private and faith-based schools with our professional development programs, our career center, our consultancy services, our new certification program in conjunction with Vanderbilt University, and at our annual institute. Next year, in July 2017, our institute will be in San Juan Capistrano, California, please come join us! Learn more about AISAP at www.aisap.org.