Last year while attending SSATB13 in Philadelphia, four very kind (and patient!) admission directors took time out of the conference to share some admission marketing advice. It turned out to be a fun way to curate fresh ideas heading into the next admission cycle.
While I didn’t necessarily pull the post together with the idea that we’d tackle this each year, I realized I shouldn’t waste the chance to ask something new when I found myself back at SSATB14 in Orlando.
So, with that in mind, I shifted focus and presented four more admission professionals with a new question — one focused on the relationship with the business office:
“What piece of advice would you offer a new admission director when working with their school’s CFO?”
Not surprisingly, all four encouraged a new admission director to live by a simple rule when working with the business office — make sure to communicate regularly and openly with your CFO. They stressed that it’s critical to establish a dialogue around key data (i.e. enrollment forecasts, financial aid budgeting, etc) as you work to meet your enrollment goals.
I want to thank Andrew Millikin, Vermont Academy, Willard L. Taylor, Newark Academy, Saralyn Renda, The Gunnery, and Chris Webb, Bridgton Academy for sharing their advice.
“What advice do I have for establishing best practices in working with the business office? For me, it’s making sure that you establish strong lines of communication between offices. Also, you can’t think of the CFO as your enemy. Instead, he or she is your ally. It’s critical for you to work together to achieve both of your goals.”
– Andrew Millikin, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Vermont Academy
“As far as best practices for a successful relationship, at NA its been about communication. We operate in “silos” in that I have no involvement in the business office day to day, and our CFO doesn’t know anything about my daily operation; but we talk, virtually every day. I keep him in the loop on everything from enrollment projections to FA situations. The more data he has, the more likely it is that my thoughts and positions will have a voice in finance meetings. I also make it my business to know the school’s finances and what our financial priorities are at the moment. Makes it easier to ask for more, when I know where the excess is!! LOL.”
– Willard L. Taylor, Jr. M. Phil., Director of Admission & Enrollment Management, Newark Academy
“I think the relationship between the director of admission and the business office or CFO is crucial. In order to foster that relationship, constant communication needs to occur in the same way that communication needs to occur between a director of admission and the head of school. Constant reporting of stats throughout the admission season is important so that budget goals cannot only be set, but met. If those budget goals are not being met, you can work with your CFO to alter a budget based on the numbers that you’re forecasting for enrollment for the fall.”
-Sara Lynn Leavenworth, Director of Admissions, The Gunnery
“My advice is to have a regular dialogue, meaning weekly meetings, with the business office. Your meetings should go beyond the financial aid discussions — you should talk about budget, risk management, or anything that relates to areas where you want to grow your business specific skills. That dialogue with a business professional on your campus is vital.”
– Chris Webb, Director of Admission & Financial Aid, Bridgton Academy