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The Conflicted Admission Officer: Relationships or Statistics?
Elyn Roberts

As an administrative leader in your school, should you focus on building relationships or managing the admissions funnel? Is one more important than the other? What are the best admissions yield strategies? Where should your priorities lie? 

Building relationships is fundamental to establishing an emotional connection with your current and prospective families. Building trust and understanding plays a key role in a family’s decision to apply and ultimately enroll in your school.  

However, when it comes to managing the admissions funnel and the admissions process as a whole, the single most important factor for headmasters, superintendents, and the Board is your numbers. 


Understanding Key Terms

Let’s break a few terms down to understand the conversion numbers that impact your school’s decisions.

Inquiry to Application – the percentage of inquiries that become applicants.

Application Complete – this percentage demonstrates how many families complete the entire application process and are then ready to be selected for enrollment. For example, families that have completed tours, shadow days, interviews, and submitted all transcripts and recommendation forms.

Selectivity – the number of applicants you choose to accept into your school divided by the total number of applicants. 

Yield – the percentage of the applicants you have accepted that choose to enroll in your school.

All of these numbers are important pieces of data that help drive decisions for your school.

Today, admissions teams across the country are constantly brainstorming admissions yield strategies and researching new ways to improve and sustain their numbers. One particular tool that is great for breaking a complex admissions process into digestible pieces is the admission funnel. Although this tool is helpful for identifying what stage of the admissions process an admissions team needs to focus on, it is missing an important piece of information: PEOPLE.  Every single one of the numbers in an admission funnel represents a real and ongoing conversation and relationship with a candidate or prospective family.

Here inlines the conflict: you are tasked with improving the numbers, but your job is first and foremost about people. The role of an admissions officer is about connecting with candidates, building relationships, telling the story of your school, and helping families find their place in that story.

You can either focus on finding more candidates or spending more time with the ones that you have. Numbers vs. People. It comes down to quantity or quality, right? Common sense says that unless you expand your team, you can’t grow the numbers and improve personal connections at the same time.

But let’s challenge that. We know you can do both if you have the right tools.

Keys to a Successful Admission Yield Strategy:

  • Use technology to save time on routine admission tasks. There are so many tools out there that can make a difference. School admissions software is a great place to start. 
  • Build targeted communication plans to connect with candidates (specifically about the things they care about) in a more efficient way.
  • Broaden your audience. Connect with more candidates through your website and social media.
  • Have the right tools in place so you don’t have to choose between focusing on numbers and building relationships. Additionally, make sure you ask the right questions when choosing those tools, like your admission and enrollment software. 
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