Thursday, July 29, 2010

Print versus Electronic

It’s not quite as contentious as diversity but print versus electronic is up there among professional hot topics for me. Being rather traditionalist, I sometimes worry that my own bias holds back my office’s full embracing of electronic marketing. But see what the Wall Street Journal wrote on the topic last year as it relates to getting catalogs in the mail. Interesting stuff.

In this article, I think the key line for me is, Catalogs, marketers say, drive sales at Web sites, making them more important than ever. (Of course, when I read “catalogs,” I see “viewbooks”! ) I think that’s the balance. Tease them with paper. Drive them to electronic. Wow them on the web. In leadership and management courses they teach us it is better to replace one thing for another than to simply pile onto the workforce more that needs to be done. In this case, unfortunately, I don’t think we’re there yet to replace paper with a screen so we must live with being piled on with more to do.

My favorite writer on all things related to education marketing, Andrea Jarrell (a link to whose blog, “School of Thought,” you will find in the right-hand column; feel free to suggest other blogs you like), weighs in on this here. She maddeningly provides no answers but plenty of food for thought. Making you think is among the things she does best. Enjoy her writing. She's stunning in many ways.

At the end of the day, I still think there’s a balance. After all, look at what we’ve learned about how the brain works in the last two decades and how that impacts classroom teaching and assessment and pedagogy. Doesn’t this extend to a diversity of ways in which families take in information and learn about schools? Why would we limit ourselves to a debate of print OR electronic? Doesn’t having a quality presence in both media give us greater market penetration?

From Canada, I wish you all a “Happy Civic Day” this coming Monday.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Nouveau Minority

Thanks to Pam McKenna at Hopkins School for bringing this article to my attention regarding the proven struggles of poor, white students in education. Upon reflection, it makes sense. Schools make great efforts to recruit faculty of color. We want students of different races to find mentors and role models among our adults. Schools in the last decade have become increasingly sensitive to avoiding tests and major assignments on a variety of religions’ holidays and observances. And we’re all quick to enjoy the efforts of the International Student Club on days such as Chinese New Year. But where is the support for students who quietly and internally gasp in embarrassment when everyone is asked to bring in "just $15" so the whole team can have matching tshirts? And forget the optional trip to France over spring break. Where are the adults and teachers who publicly exclaim their own childhood poverty and struggles so these students know someone who has walked their same path? Schools commit great dollars to financial aid but then what do we do to support this “minority” in our midst (NAIS says this group makes up only 18.7% of our students)? Is it any different than 20 years ago when we started to recruit students of color but then expected them to act, assimilate and survive in an almost entirely white school culture and environment? Look how far we have come from that ignorant stance. What might it look like for poor, white students 20 years from now when our industry is more enlightened and decides this is the new struggling minority that needs our attention and effort?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Race & Social Media

Race: always a tricky topic, isn’t it? Check out this article regarding the races and social media. In summary: the Caucasian population can typically be found on Facebook while the Hispanic and African-American communities tend toward MySpace. A lot of questions surfaced for me when I heard about this on the radio and then subsequently discovered this article. What does this mean for schools who want to be harnessing the power of social media? Should we have a presence in both places? Does anyone right now—and if so, why? And now knowing the dominant audiences found at each website, do we tailor our messages accordingly and differently? Is that a form of racism? Or is it segmented marketing, the same thing we do when we craft different messages to parents versus students, or Lower School candidates versus Upper School candidates? Discuss! (FYI: An insightful study worth reading on the topic of race in independent schools was turned into the book, Blacks in the White Establishment.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This news of the increasing costs of passports brought to mind an admissions director quagmire that's haunted me most my career. Where is the balance between going yourself (whether it's a day school visiting a local feeder school or a boarding school visiting someone on the other side of the world) and sending a staffer? How is it received by those you visit if you send someone other than the #1 person in your office? Isn't relationship building key in our business? How do you do that if you don't send the same person each time? I mean really: can anyone do as good a job as you? Does sending someone else out take control out of your hands? On the other hand, don't you have better things, more senior administrative things to do than spend days or weeks out of the office? Thoughts?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Read On.

What's worth reading in our industry? I hired someone last year with zero admissions experience and he was looking for books to read to learn more. I had a few on my shelf to loan him, although mostly from the higher education perspective. If someone had a similar request of you, what is on your bookshelf that you would recommend? I started with these two:

1. The Gatekeepers. You'll quickly find yourself invested in the lives of these students and in the admissions office. It was hard to put down!

2. Questions and Admissions. There is nothing Fetter doesn't share, down to the color of the markers used in the folder reading process. A most interesting read, from the complex to the minuscule.

P.S. Happy Canada Day everyone!