For The Dean of Admissions, Numbers Are Everything

 For The Dean of Admissions, Numbers Are EverythingI just returned from a summer training for independent educational consultants at the beautiful Swarthmore College campus outside of Philadelphia.  In conversations between sessions and in long lines at the dining hall, dodging hundreds of starving soccer camp girls who swept in like locusts, devouring everything in sight and all of the milk, I was reminded again of how much I enjoy the company of adults who care about kids and their education.  Ah, kindred spirits!  The professionalism of IECA is extremely high, led by the outstanding Mark Sklarow whose presentations are not to be missed.  The faculty assembled for us and the training itself were truly impressive and were well worth the resource investment.

As talk focused on college admissions, I was reminded how much it helps to have analytical thinking skills if you are going to be a dean of admissions.  Deans worry about ratios: the number of applications admitted relative to the number received (admit rate); the number of admitted students who actually enroll (yield); standardized tests scores represented in the pool relative to those of the nation, broken down by ethnicity and gender; increases or decreases of any cohort over time.

Data is the life’s blood of the admissions office.  It matters.

Deans have to be on top of their numbers.  They must defend their progress toward meeting the college’s institutional needs to senior administration and boards of trustees who often know little about the changing high school landscape.  They must also keep their eyes firmly on their competition’s data as well so there are no surprises from year to year.  Most importantly, since admissions data directly affects a college’s Standard and Poor bond rating, a less than successful year for admissions not only affects the student population, but can make it more expensive for the school to borrow money for infrastructure investment. I had many a sleepless night worrying about such things.  There is a lot to keep track of and much education to do within the college community itself.

The dean’s job is intensely lonely, for no one else can really understand the pressure of enrolling a class that will satisfy all constituencies and ensure the continuation of a vibrant college life.  Gone are the days when a dean can wave others off with a terse, “I can’t get you that information right now.  I have a class to admit.”  Now, like with everything else in modern life, it’s all-information-all-the-time, which multiplies the stress of the job.

In my next blog, I’ll teach you something about another key admissions concept:  institutional needs.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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