Monday, March 7, 2011


The newest edition of Fortune magazine lists the world’s most admired companies. The top four, in order, are Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway and Southwest Airlines (see a related post from 2010 here). Not particularly surprising to see them all at the top of the list. They are certainly leaders in innovation, thinking and profit-making in their respective industries.

As discussed on Morning Joe last week with Fortune’s editor-in-chief, the other attribute these companies share is founders and/or CEOs who are tremendous risk takers. They are all out-of-the-box thinkers and willing to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of their vision. They perceive the future in a way the rest of us are desperate to grasp.

Doesn’t sound like our industry, does it? Prep schools are not really risk-taking places and with few exceptions, there aren’t many schools that could literally afford to accept risky behavior from their admissions director. But our work has evolved in so many ways and there are certainly some industry leaders. I would imagine the names coming into your head right now are the names of which I’m thinking, too.

Somebody had to be the first to try having a school website, the first to see the future of Facebook and create a school page, the first to harness Skype to conduct an interview, the first to take an iPad to a fair, the first to create a school app.

And we haven’t lacked for out-of-the-box thinking either. Concepts like enrollment management, net tuition revenue, and geodemographics have all been introduced to our industry since I joined it. Remember when we had more financial aid than demand? Someone had to first think how best to maximize it and spread the wealth when we started to finally run short (due to our own fault as tuition increases outpaced cost of living increases for over a decade).

What’s next? I can assure you I haven’t a clue. But it’s inspiring to be in the game and see the big thinkers wrestle with how we make our offices and our schools more successful, more efficient, and more committed to serving students. It’s exciting to consider how we stay current, relevant, and at the front of the pack.

My guess is it’ll be somehow associated with an Apple product. iAdmissions? It beats boarding-licious!

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