Ask anyone involved with admissions at a private Christian school what their job responsibilities entail and you are bound to get any number of answers. Scheduling and giving tours to prospective parents, creating brochures, testing incoming students, managing financial aid, you name it. I’ve personally known Admissions Directors whose tasks even include handing out lunch tickets to students, attending to copy machine jams, and comforting distraught children. One job, many tasks. All in a day’s work at a small private school.
For the sake of this article, let’s agree that the core responsibilities of an Admissions Director at a small private school are overseeing and directing the admissions process for prospective families and students. Based on the size of the school and the scope of responsibility, this could be either a part- or full-time position.
Some of the main duties related to these responsibilities include:
- Managing admissions events such as Open Houses
- Producing admissions materials
- Tracking and moving families through admission funnel
- Creating reports to share with the Headmaster and School Board
For a more complete breakdown of responsibilities, click here to download a sample Admissions Director job description.
Keeping in mind that the Director of Development and the Director of Admissions are the only two positions in a mature school that are 100% dedicated to generating the school’s future revenue, good judgement needs to be used when hiring an Admissions Director.
Who should NOT be an Admissions Director?
- A warm body
- A well meaning but unqualified parent
- A teacher who was ineffective in the classroom who you feel compelled to offer another role in the school
- A School Board member
- A spouse, sibling or friend of the school whom you want to be nice to, but who doesn’t really fit the job description
- Someone who clings to the “old way” of doing things and is not willing to embrace change
The bottom line: This function is critical to the success of your school enrollment growth efforts, so you need to be selective when hiring for the position.
It is also important to keep in mind the Admissions Director is your school’s sales person. This person’s job is to guide prospects through the buyer’s journey as they work towards the enrollment of new students.
Admission Directors should love engaging with all types of people, be emotionally intelligent, and not be afraid to get under the hood with prospective parents to help them define their pain points and challenges. They should enthusiastically communicate how their school’s programs and offerings can provide a solution to those pains.
The Admissions Director should also be good at collecting data and analyzing the numbers. This could be painful as the numbers tell the truth. Find someone who doesn’t rely on “smoke and mirrors,” but is comfortable with looking at actual data and finding ways to improve the situation.
A people person who is also a data nerd? Yes, they are out there!
Here are 3 more frequently asked questions relating to the role of private school Admissions Director:
1. When should the Admissions Director be a full-time position and when would a part-time position suffice?
Every school is different; however, the breaking point to consider the Admissions Director as a full-time position comes at about 200 students. Larger schools may also need to employ an Admissions Coordinator as well. Their role is to support the Admissions Director by scheduling meetings, tours, and testing sessions. They would also handle everything related to the application, such as ensuring grade reports and reference letters are submitted, testing and interviews are completed, and acceptance letters have been mailed. This frees valuable time for the Director to focus on giving tours to prospects and nurturing them through the admissions funnel.
2. How does the Admissions Director role fit into the organization of the school’s support staff?
The admissions director may report directly to the Headmaster or to the Advancement Director, depending on how the structure is set up. See the organizational chart below for an example of what this might look like:
3. How does an Admissions Director fit into an inbound marketing strategy?
The Admissions Director is a key player in a school’s inbound marketing strategy. An inbound focused Admissions Director should build their department on two main pillars of the inbound methodology: Buyer Personas and The Buyer’s Journey. They need to thoroughly understand the ideal prospective families for the school, including the prospect’s demographics, pain points and challenges, and purchasing requirements. They should also understand how to nurture these personas through the journey of becoming aware of the school and learning how the school can provide solutions to their questions and problems.