From Memberanda, Summer 2011
As students pack up their things and gleefully rush off to enjoy their summer vacations, we talked to admission professionals about admission’s “Second Season,” and how their offices operate during what was traditionally a “slow” time of year. What did we find? The myth of summer vacation and slow times is just that – a myth.
Vicki Wright, Director of Admission, Chatham Hall School (VA):
Our summer is very different this year. With the implementation of our new Nilsen Scholars program funded by a $30 million bequest, we have the strongest enrollment picture in recent memory. Instead of focusing on filling places, we are able to focus on strategic planning for the coming season. We are able to focus on what we do well at Chatham Hall and how best to articulate these things to prospective families.
Susan Markle, Director of Admissions, Toronto French School (ON):
We are fully open during the summer months, recruiting a hefty number of students relocating from other cities, provinces and countries. And, of course, those who are disgruntled with the public system often walk through our doors during those balmy months. Enrollment continues all year long for us. I fondly remember the glorious days of summers off in a former life. The realities are that today we all need to do whatever we can to ensure enrollment numbers stay healthy and that no opportunities are lost.
Nancy Ehringhaus, Director of Admissions at Charlotte Country Day School (NC):
Summer is a busy place in the admissions office at Charlotte Country Day. The pace is a bit slower than during the school year; however, there is a constant buzz, with people moving in and out of town and callers who are just beginning to consider independent education. Testing, interviewing, and touring continue throughout June, July and August. As students withdraw from Country Day due to a move, waitlists are acted upon and the process of acclimating new students and families begins. In years gone by, summer was a somewhat quieter time, though it was never at a standstill – which often surprises people. It is an office that truly never sleeps!
Pamela Jamison, Director of Admissions and Doreen Kelly, Head of School, Ravenscroft School (NC):
We see a number of families relocating to this area in the late spring/summer. These families come from throughout the state, across the country, and around the world. We have enrolled some wonderful students and had great families join our school community over the summer in grades where we had availability. So admissions have been a year-round business at Ravenscroft for awhile—we don’t want to risk a missed opportunity with a great family! During the summer, while we continue to host families and students, we also begin our planning for the coming season.
Dr. Jerome S. Chermak, Headmaster, University School of Nova Southeastern University (FL):
Our admission office currently works year round. The admission office calendar runs more like a business than a school, remaining open through summer months with personnel available for prospective families, newly-enrolled families, and current families. Today’s parent expects constant contact and communication with admissions staff, who are likely to be their first contact with the school. The successful school in 2011 knows there is no longer summer vacation in the admission office.
Diane Dunning, Director of Admission and Financial Aid, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (VA):
Admission offices need to be available to new and current families in the summer, much more than in the past. With a majority of newly enrolled students coming from non-independent schools, more time goes into educating families about the nuances of independent schools and in helping maintain these families’ connection with their new school. In addition, admission staff needs to respond to economic and social changes being experienced by current families, such as changes in employment, income, and family status.
Christopher Beeson, Director of Admission and Financial Aid, The Athenian School (CA):
I have heard from many colleagues that a significant part of their enrollment occurs during the summer. I have also seen students for whom I have no space in the summer being admitted to other schools. I don’t think this is new, though the pattern may have changed for some schools. Some of the strongest applicants can appear in the summer when a family faces an unexpected move. With all that said, admission folk need to take time for themselves in order to be effective in their roles. For those who take vacations, I expect many find it hard to disconnect entirely when their school is not full. The “gift” of technology easily allows us to stay connected when we’re away.
Kirsten Beard, Director of Admission, Atlanta Girls’ School (GA):
I remember years ago when the summers felt more relaxed – now I feel like I am racing the clock each day! Some of the things I find myself becoming immersed in over the summer relate to our marketing and branding, admission materials and communications, catching up with professional development (SSATB webinars!), meeting with the deans and the academic office about incoming students, reviewing student surveys, and completing an SSATB Optimal Use Study to identify key statistics that predict future success at AGS.
Fran Ryan, Assistant Headmaster, Academic Affairs, Rumsey Hall School (CT):
I can definitively say that the admission season has drawn out longer. It used to be that by April 10, we were finished – mostly, anyway. Families were contracted and everyone had a solid sense of where they were headed. With financial aid complicating admission decisions, more and more families continue to work throughout April, May and June to secure enrollment affordably. For some this means a round two, and for others it means working through wait list decisions and openings. The wait list decisions seem to have become problematic for all involved. For families, it is a confusing sort of decision on which no one can effectively hedge. Almost all financial aid applicants and a fair number of international applicants, specifically, struggled with wait list decisions well into the spring and early summer.
IECA Member Viewpoints
I have seen more international clients from China and India – very slow in Japan and Korea. I also am seeing more summer activity and PG year applicants. It was slow in April, May and has picked up recently. I have also been crazy busy with inquires from several who do not commit, and I am sure that is due to the economy.
–Marylou Marcus, Marylou Marcus, LLC (NH)
We’ve been very busy handling families starting the process in the last two weeks for THIS fall, with more interest in Repeat 11 spots, since the economy has pressured them to wait longer to seek an independent school. We’ve also had more mainstream 9th grade boarding requests. Fortunately, due to some “spring cleaning” at even some quite selective schools, there are some openings.
–Don McMillan, Howland, Spence & McMillan (MA)
I’m getting a number of students who are looking for a boarding school this fall. We also had a big rush after the March 10th date. We had a number of students (Grade 7-8), who attend selective private schools that all of a sudden on spring break decided they wanted to attend boarding school.
–Victoria Newman, Greenwich Education Group, LLC (CT)
I always have late summer placements for boarding school. Many of my clients are international and don’t pay any attention to admission deadlines. I also find there are families who wait until the end of the school year to decide whether or not they will consider a boarding school for the following year.
–Martha Moses, Martha Moses & Associates (FL)
For me it’s pretty much the same as it ever was. The boarding school clients calling me at this time of year usually involve: children on the edge at their current schools who held out until year end; public school families unfamiliar with the traditional timetable; families who want to get an early start on school searches for fall 2012; last child at home situations – older siblings are (or will be) away at school, and the youngest is saying, “What about me?”; and a smattering of other individual reasons.
–Jody Dobson, MA, Dobson Educational Services (PA)
Peter Baron/Brian Fisher, AdmissionsQuest.com:
Because many schools continue working to fill spaces throughout the late spring and all the way up to the opening of school, Brian and I were inspired to publish a free eBook: “Applying to Private School after the Deadline.” This guide will help families chart a plan and understand the special considerations necessary for finding and successfully applying to a private school after the admission deadline. (Download the ebook at www.admissionsquest.com)