New Study Reports Admissions Officers’ Backgrounds Play a Role in Recruitment

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Paskill Stapleton & Lord’s SMART Helps in the Key to Recruitment -- Building Relationships

“We’ve long known that many people have implicit biases, so why wouldn’t they be represented among admission counselors?”

In an article in the Apr. 22 issue, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a study that found that admissions officers’ backgrounds play a big role in student recruitment in higher education.

The study, recently presented at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, found that the personal backgrounds of admissions officers appeared to play an important role in the admission process.

That probably shouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone who is familiar with human nature. The Chronicle article quotes Donald Heller, provost and vice president for academic affairs at San Francisco University, and an expert on admissions systems, that, “We’ve long known that many people have implicit biases, so why wouldn’t they be represented among admission counselors?”

In effect, the take-away from the Chronicle article is that admission counselors are human, and that can affect successful relationship-building. No surprise there, either.

Of course, one of the advantages of this human equation is that admissions officers and counselors are trainable. That’s where higher education marketing firm Paskill Stapleton & Lord (PS&L) plays a role in the recruitment and admissions process.

PS&L’s SMART (Sales Management and Academic Recruitment Training) higher education seminar is a two-day, on-campus higher education staff development training workshop conducted every year nationwide by PS&L consultants; a program designed to provide universities and colleges with more effective recruiters, and incorporating feedback from the almost 50 workshops PS&L held during 2015, as well as the knowledge gained from consulting with the firm’s college and university clients.

Some of that knowledge is indeed that admission counselors are human, and that training is effective in helping admissions counselors recruit and yield their top prospects, by helping with that “human touch,” the basic building block of recruiting – relationship development and how to communicate.

“SMART is about academic sales and one-on-one recruiting,” says PS&L consultant Janet Sieff. “ Other factors covered that are important to directors of admissions include meeting enrollment goals despite increased competition and fewer students to recruit, and affordability issues.”

The two-day training program builds sales skills for higher education admissions teams. In all, SMART focuses on eight areas: recruiting vs. promoting; relationship building; prospect management; differentiating; building value; social media and closing techniques … all with the goal of In addition, all workshops include interactivity such as role-playing and breakouts. A debriefing session with leadership follows each program.

If you’ve found that your admission counselors are human, and would like more information on SMART, contact Sieff at janet(at)psandl(dot)com or (412) 904-3133.

Headquartered in Glenside, PA, Paskill Stapleton & Lord is a higher education enrollment management and education marketing firm focused on the long-term enrollment health of our client institutions.

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John Stapleton

Janet Sieff
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