When you enter a school as a teacher, your understanding of the school begins in its most intimate space—the classroom—and radiates outward from there. When you work in enrollment and admissions, however, your understanding of your school also needs to start beyond your campus, encompassing the larger communities and forces that surround and engage with the school, and converging inward.
Most Academic Leaders begin in the classroom, but as they move into school administration, their perspective starts to shift. Successful and strategic Academic Leaders learn how to balance the internal and external mindsets, and to exist in the productive tension that emerges from the two ways of seeing the world.
Enrollment management goes far beyond the cycle of activity that admits a new class to your school, although that’s always a key part of the work. Enrollment managers are in search of a complex balance among a series of four drivers: enrollment numbers, revenue, candidates, and class composition. Each of these drivers, in turn, has a direct impact on the responsibilities of the Academic Leader. Enrollment numbers dictate class size, sectioning, and number of students per teacher. Revenue affects raises and hiring. Both the candidate pool and class composition determine the students who arrive in the classroom and whom the academic program serves.
Because of all these overlaps, it’s easy to see why effective collaborations between Academic Leaders and enrollment management professionals can be so powerful. You’re each other’s best allies on the leadership team, and when you make decisions together, you can manage the levers of change for curriculum, instruction, and community. Your enrollment management team can also be your advocate for change—when there’s internal resistance to growth, they can explain how student and family needs are evolving, and how the academic program needs to evolve as well to continue to serve the community.
Enrollment management work lives in the same place of tension that academic leadership does—you toggle between practical choices about individual people, and abstract decisions that affect the larger school. You don’t have to be an island of one in your work—you can be part of an island nation.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)