• In this issue of Ideas & Perspectives,

    we discuss why college prep is not enough, application processes for international students, and how constituent relations fits into the three Spheres of Influence.

  • The most forward-thinking advisory letter for private-independent school leaders.

    More than 8,500 private school decision-makers find the answers to their schools’ administrative and governance matters in Ideas & Perspectives, our flagship advisory publication.

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    Consortium members—you can read Ideas & Perspectives on your iPad, iPhone, or select Android device. Plus, Consortium Gold members can use the clickable footnotes to access the I&P archive!

The Real World Starts Now: College Prep is No Longer Enough!

Vol. 42 No. 5

In an increasingly competitive market of innovative public school programs, charter schools, online programs, and home schooling, private-independent schools are under more pressure than ever to prove their value and relevance to their constituents. ISM continually urges Boards and school leaders to critically evaluate their Purpose and Outcome Statements to ensure that they clearly communicate what sets the school apart.

Being “college preparatory” is no longer enough, if it is even worth mentioning at all. Almost all independent schools are college preparatory, as are most public schools, so preparation for the next education level is a basic expectation, not a difference-maker. Also, parents and students are beginning to question the value of college because of the enormous burden of student loans in an economy where there are no guarantees the investment will result in gainful employment. There is an increased sense that the traditional college education is failing to prepare students for life, and so just preparing students for college is an increasingly underwhelming proposition.

Your International Student Program, Part Two

Vol. 42 No. 5

In the first article in this two-part series, we provided a review of the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). In Part Two, we take a look at the enrollment process, admission, on-boarding, and other important areas of potential risk attendant to your International Program.

International enrollment application processes can be more time-consuming than domestic applications. Increase your application fee, if needed, to cover the human resource hours and the postage costs of managing your international pool.1 Many reputable third-party brokers or commissioned based recruiters (as SEVIS classifies them) are available to assist with identifying mission-appropriate international enrollments, the cost of which is typically passed on to either the school or applying family, or both.

The Three Spheres of Influence: Constituent Relations

Vol. 42 No. 5

In the previous three issues of I&P, we introduced the three spheres of influence, then focused on the Market Position and School Culture spheres. This article focuses on the sphere dedicated to Constituent Relations.

“Constituent relations” refers to the manner in which you, as Admission Director, Development Director, or Marketing Communications Director, take care of your key constituents: parents, students, alumni, alumni parents, faculty, volunteers, members of the operational and academic leadership teams, and others. This sphere of influence focuses largely on developing a client-centered orientation. A robust and concerted culture of client service is an expectation of, and a real difference-maker for, private-independent school families.

The Executive Committee: Vestige of Bureaucratic Governance

Vol. 42 No. 4

As Board President, you are aware that a “strategic Board” is focused on the long-term viability of your private-independent school, i.e., on financial planning, organizational planning, facilities planning, capital and other campaigns, and the array of components integral to those planning themes (including institutional performance on the ISM Stability Markers). For many years, ISM has emphasized the importance of the strategic Board, and, thus, the central roles of the Committee on Trustees (COT) and the Head Support and Evaluation Committee (HSEC). We have intentionally excluded the Executive Committee in our description of the strategic Board’s structure.

The Three Spheres of Influence: School Culture

Vol. 42 No. 4

In the previous two issues of I&P, we introduced the spheres of influence, then focused on the Market Position sphere. This article focuses on the sphere dedicated to School Culture.

The second sphere of influence, School Culture, reflects your school’s enrollment outcomes and refers to the realm of students and faculty. When the school culture is healthy, the result is enrollment demand in excess of supply and a perception of return on investment for your parent constituency. Strength in the school culture sphere depends on the extent to which faculty are clear about the school’s marketplace stance and mission, are committed to it, and play an active role in ensuring it. You, as the School Head, Admission Director, or Marketing Communications Director know that, while parents are not directly part of the school culture, they do have expectations of it. When their children have consistently positive experiences, they perceive value and feel validated in having made the investment.

Your International Student Program, Part One

Vol. 42 No. 4

There are myriad aspects to offering a successful International Student Program. This begins with the school reviewing its “why” for having a program, to the family’s first introduction to your school (and how), traveling to the states, getting students from port-of-entry to your school, on-boarding, and the various other aspects and risks attendant to this effort. A key consideration is compliance with the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS),

In this two-part article, we’ll begin with a review of SEVP and SEVIS. We’ll describe what they are and how they work to help you become or remain compliant.

In Part Two, we will take a look at the enrollment process, admission, on-boarding, and other areas of potential risk.

The Strategic Board Assessment II

Vol. 42 No. 3

ISM has completed a two-year analysis of the relationship between ISM’s long-established Strategic Board Assessment instrument and the six ISM Stability Markers that are largely determined and driven by Board decisions and policies. We now offer this update and revision of the original instrument. With one exception, the items are the same as in the first iteration, but the scoring of the instrument has been altered dramatically so that Board leaders can prioritize and focus structure and function with more precision.

The Department Chair’s Role in Supporting Multiyear Strategic Goals

Vol. 42 No. 3

ISM recommends six-year strategic and strategic financial plans that are completely redone every four years (so Years Five and Six are never implemented, but serve as guideposts for the subsequent six-year plan). Many schools also have an accompanying Strategic Academic Plan aligned with the strategic plan and strategic financial plan, resourced through the annual budget.

The Three Spheres of Influence: Market Position

Vol. 42 No. 3

In the previous issue of I&P, we introduced the three spheres of influence. This article focuses on the sphere dedicated to Market Position. Following articles will highlight the other two spheres—School Culture and Constituent Relations.

In ISM parlance, “market position” consists of components and stances meant to convey who you are as a school. Ideally, your competitive niche reflects the ways in which your school is uniquely different from your competitors. The market position sphere of influence uses two ISM tools—Price, Process, Product and Purpose and Outcome statements. These act as foundations for a school’s success in recruiting new students and families, representing a mission-based, student-centered, “inside-out” approach to enrollment marketing.

Admission and Enrollment Management: Spheres of Influence

Vol. 42 No. 2

As the Admission Director or Marketing Communications Director, you know that your school’s primary and frequently only source of hard income revenue comes from enrollment. This is rightly the focus of many, if not most, private-independent school strategic plans. To ensure strength in your enrollment position—whether your goal is growth, stasis, or “right sizing” your school to ensure mission excellence—there are three spheres of influence within which almost every other possible factor impacting your enrollment outcomes reside:

  1. market position;
  2. school culture; and
  3. constituent relationships.

ISM’s Success Predictors: Update and Revision, Part Two

Vol. 42 No. 2

In the previous issue of I&P, we offered Part One of our first update and revision of the ISM Success Predictors—not to be confused with the ISM Stability Markers—which represent ISM’s deliberately considered speculation about what will be needed in private-independent schools as they adjust to the always-changing technological, educational, and cultural milieu in which they move. The ISM Success Predictors, unlike the ISM Stability Markers, are not evidence-driven in the same way, i.e., are not conclusions from data analysis. Since evidence of efficacy is impossible to gather before widespread use, readers should understand that the ISM Success Predictors are forecasts—not conclusions from data—of what ISM expects to be needed to achieve long-term success in the private-independent school marketplace.

Paying Your Summer Program Director

Vol. 42 No. 2

As the Business Manager, how should you think about the Summer Program Director position? It can include diverse roles and responsibilities and so there is no single or simple answer. For some schools, this is a full-time position with over 1,000 students participating over eight weeks. For others, it is a nascent program of two weeks with 80 participants.1 Methods of compensation are equally diverse. A cross-section of typical attitudes includes:

  • FTE with salary and benefits (usually including extended care through the year);
  • an addition to a full-time position, such as teacher with a stipend attached; and
  • for the person directing the program, his or her children attend for free for the summer.

ISM’s Success Predictors: Update and Revision, Part One

Vol. 42 No. 1

ISM periodically issues revised and updated versions of its Stability Markers, a list of evidence-based variables that, according to ISM data, comprise the critical elements in underwriting a private-independent school’s long-term viability. The ISM Stability Markers have been in widespread use by Boards of Trustees and senior administrators, both as a lens through which to self-evaluate and as a vector on which to move to strengthen a school’s longest-term financial and organizational stability and excellence.

ISM here offers its first update and revision of the ISM Success Predictors—not to be confused with the Stability Markers—which represent ISM’s deliberately considered speculation on what will be needed in private-independent schools as they adjust to the always-changing technological, educational, and cultural milieu in which they move. The ISM Success Predicators, unlike the ISM Stability Markers, are not evidence-driven in the same way, i.e., not as outcomes of data analysis. Since evidence of efficacy is impossible to gather before widespread use, readers should understand the ISM Success Predictors are forecasts—not conclusions-from-data—of what ISM expects to be needed to achieve long-term success in the private-independent school marketplace.

For Parents to Trust You With the Big Things, First Take Care of the Little Things

Vol. 42 No. 1

Schools frequently wish they enjoyed more positive interactions with parents. Teachers often lament the “good old days,” when parents trusted teachers and school administrators almost implicitly—and would not question, let alone protest, the advice or approach of educational professionals.

Parents still evaluate what happens at school through the lens of their own educational experiences, or the experiences of their older children. They may also bring expert information to bear—even the findings of educational research—on their ongoing conversation with school community members about their children’s progress and learning experiences.

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