Admissions:  Plan Now to Increase your Yield on Acceptances (Repost, but always relevant)

March decisions are right around the corner, and Admission Directors can take a few steps right now to ensure the highest possible enrollment yield from acceptances.

School Admissions: Plan Now to Increase your Yield on Acceptances

1.     Involve your independent school’s program directors. Everyone has a stake in the yield success for acceptances.  Whether it’s the Academic Dean or the Music Director, the Debate Coach or the Soccer Coach—all program directors can help the yield cause at large and impact their programs.  Plan an early February meeting of all program directors—before end of term madness takes hold and March break arrives-- to discuss strategies for getting them in touch with accepted students (and/or parents) who have expressed a strong interest in specific programs.

2.     Plan or refine your accepted student special events now.  Whether it is a full-day visitation program for accepted students or an evening reception for the kids and their parents, you don’t want to wait until late February to create or refine these plans.  Successful independent schools enlist an all-star cast of teachers and administrators, and current students and parents to assist in these critically important events. They need to plan.  So do applicants and their parents. are aware of dates and specifics so that they can plan should they be accepted. Send out an e-blast and get the info on your website well before admission notifications are sent. 

3.     Use your admission software to indicate likelihood of yield for an acceptance.  Sure, in many cases you just won’t have a strong sense of whether a candidate will enroll after an acceptance, but your best guess is better than no guess as you enter admission committee meetings. And you will find that tracking the real data after acceptances and comparing it to your intuition will help inform your yield efforts in the future.

4.     Consider adding to your acceptance letters alerts for upcoming events or other school news, and include a link for these to your website.  You may have your winter musical right at acceptance time, an end of season playoff game, an art exhibition, or a special speaker at your school.  Perhaps you are at the point where you can announce an exciting program that will launch in the coming year.  These are all terrific opportunities to get accepted candidates and families back to campus or at least to keep them thinking about you without any “sales” pressure. 

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Admissions Trends 2016

On Friday, I interviewed a fellow St. George's School Alum, Adam Choice. Adam and I had the chance to reconnect via LinkedIn, and found we were both in the same field! 

The Packer Collegiate Institute Admission Team

I went to Brooklyn, New York to learn more.

I went to Brooklyn, New York to learn more.

Adam Choice is the Associate Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions, partnered with Sheila Bogan, Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions at The Packer Collegiate Institute. To call Ms. Bogan and Mr. Choice a team is an understatement! Why? This "powerhouse" Admission Team fills & exceeds their enrollment goals each year!

What is The Packer Collegiate Institute's Secret to Full Enrollment?

We’ve been full every year. (Mr. Choice has worked for The Packer Collegiate Institute for two years, and Ms. Bogan for five years.) Once our deadline hits, we are full. We don’t do summer admissions. We shoot for 90 kids for 9th Grade every year.

Where do your Applicants live? What is appealing about Brooklyn Heights?

All over the city. The majority of 9th Grade for instance, 60-65% are from Manhattan. The rest of our student body is from Brooklyn. Some students commute from Long Island, Jersey City, and Hoboken. All five boroughs! Brooklyn Heights is easy to get to from all over the city, which gives The Packer Collegiate Institute a lot of geographic diversity.

Did The Packer Collegiate Institute struggle in Enrollment during 2008?

Though many schools got hit from the 2008 crisis, we were able to sustain our numbers. Every year our number of applicants increases. Sheila said there were roughly 200-250 applicants 5 years ago. This year, we had 400 applicants just for 9th grade. 


Traditional Marketing

The Packer Collegiate Institute does not market as much as we did at St. George’s School. (Adam worked for St. George's School's Admissions Office from 2012-2014). I only do a handful of School Fairs for The Packer Collegiate Institute each year. For St. George's School, I went to School Fairs all over the country.

The Packer Collegiate Institute uses pamphlets and magazines to provide basic printed information. We are currently working with our Communications Office to make the printed material look less "old school," and enhance them.

Admissions Trend 2016: Digital Marketing

We are in the process of updating and sprucing up The Packer Collegiate Institute website. I believe a website is key. We need more visuals to brighten it up. That will have a huge effect. We don’t have a lot of things we’re mailing out. Our name is out there already, and we are lucky enough, by word of mouth, to get so many applicants already.


I go every fall to the SSATB Admissions Conference. I like to hear and see what other schools are doing. I attended meetings on marketing and strategy. 

That is where I learned how important it is for Communications & Admissions Offices to collaborate.

I remember one particular school was putting out videos and posting daily on social media. Some schools only do a video for accepted students or big events. This school was putting something up everyday, and saw only positives in gaining applicants, popularity, and getting their name out there.

Social media is huge now for admissions & communications offices.

I think the relationship between Communications & Admissions is crucial for the whole, especially as we venture on to the 21st century.

Further Research

Before interviewing Mr. Choice, I spoke with Gowan Group's President & Founder, Chris Pryor, to discuss the firm's services regarding Enrollment Management, Admissions, and Communications. I pulled several articles to help me formulate my interview questions with Mr. Pryor. 

I listened to this podcast from Blackbaud K-12, by Peter Baron. I learned how Admissions and Communications Offices were evolving, as Mr. Choice mentions above. Additionally, Admission Teams are now comprised of people who wear multiple "hats," with job requisites in digital marketing, data collection, and more. 

In 2014, edSocialMedia and Caylor Solutions both make strong arguments in favor of effectively allocating School Admissions Budgets to inbound marketing. By utilizing social media and inbound marketing strategies, schools will see an increase in enrollment, and a decrease in costs. 


Schools are moving away from traditional marketing, and lowering their budget. Admission Teams use few informational printed materials, proving significant changes in reaching new families and students. Without a strong social media presence, schools will fall behind, appearing dated, and leaving a poor first impression. Prospective families, who gather most of their preliminary research online, must see an updated website. Lacking digital identity will negatively impact branding and enrollment this year, and for years to come.

  • Include digital marketing in your budget this year. 
  • Host a Professional Development to better verse your Director of Communications across all social media channels. 
  • Foster collaboration between the Communications and Admissions Departments.

Gowan Group would like to thank Mr. Choice, Ms. Bogan, and The Packer Collegiate Institute for allowing the firm to share this interview with our readers. 

To learn more about The Packer Collegiate Institute and Mr. Adam Choice, visit their website here.

This interview and research is by Hailey Feldman, Director of Digital Marketing, Gowan Group.