“Admission” Versus “Admissions”

Vol. 13 No. 4

admissions eletter Vol13 No4 nameta

Ever wonder what you’d be like if your name were different? If your parents had chosen Steve or Mary instead of Bob or Sue? The logical answer is that you’d be the same person you’ve always been, regardless. There’s always that niggling voice in the back of your head, though, whispering that you’d be more assertive as a Mary or nicer as a Steve.

There’s a similar question over the name of your office, with little consensus between schools. Titles and office names are the first impression you give to any prospective family—or fellow school administrator—and can color someone’s initial judgment of both you and the work you do. With that in mind, let’s consider the many rationales for “Admission” versus “Admissions,” and reflect on the potential hidden meanings behind your choice of title.

  • Aesthetics. Some people simply think that one version “looks” or “sounds” better than the other.
  • Consistency. If other employees on campus have their titles end in an “s” more often than not (e.g., Director of Parent Relations)—or, conversely, not have the “s” (e.g., Director of Finance)—then it makes sense for the Director of Admission/s to follow suit, demonstrating continuity and solidarity across the institution.
  • Plurality. Some schools feel that because they admit more than one student, they have multiple admissions to the school—and so the office’s name reflects that. Others maintain that the school looks at students on an individual basis, so the name should drop the “s” to reflect a single student. Another camp holds that “Admission” is actually a plural noun and should never have the “s”—the same way you wouldn’t add an “s” on “children” or “mice.” (You begin to see why consensus will never be reached.)
  • Imitation. There are those who believe that following higher education’s lead—where universities and colleges often have Offices of Admissions—will sound better to prospective parents.

While there’s no one “right” answer for your school, we’d like to offer a little insight into ISM’s perspective on the debate. A private-independent school’s focus should be on delivering its mission, and a school only ever has one of those. Following that train of thought, we see a world of difference between “Office of Admission” and “Office of Admissions.” One has a single mission; the other, multiple.

So whether your office is that of Admission or Admissions, your job description certainly hasn't changed. Perhaps, though, it’s time to consider what your office’s name and your title says about you, your office’s goals, and your school’s mission.

Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 13 No. 2 Stories, Not Statistics: Lessons From the "I Am a Warrior" Campaign
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 13 No. 3 4 Reasons Why You're Chasing Re-enrollments
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 3 Your Financial Aid Formula: Does It Match Your School's Mission?

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 27 No. 3 Questions the Head Should Ask Admission Director Candidates
I&P Vol. 30 No. 13 The Comprehensive Admission Model
I&P Vol. 32 No. 7 Your Management Team's Mission Statement

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