On October 20-21, 2017 we held our fifth admissions conference in Asia-Pacific and seventh overall at UWC Thailand. We were thrilled to welcome over 50 participants representing 30 schools from 21 countries.

See the full list of participating schools and find the conference programme here.
The day opened with OpenApply Director MacKenzie Hovermale presenting a company update and product roadmap. MacKenzie reminded everyone of the new features that have come out this year and provided insight into what’s coming over the next 12 months.
Stacy Wang, Admissions Manager from Beijing City International School, discussed how her school implemented OpenApply and shared the features she finds most useful. Next Linda Belonje, Director of Marketing and Development at KIS International School, focused on OpenApply for Marketing and looked at how they use custom fields and analytics to gather the data needed to inform KIS’ marketing plan.

Following a short break, Teresa Wong, Director of Admissions and Development at American International School Hong Kong, gave a recap of the recent course she took on Design Thinking and how she has used that in implementing OpenApply at AISHK.

Aimee Gruber, Senior Director of Outreach and Business Development at The Enrollment Management Association, spoke on the changing trends in enrolment management and what admissions and the leadership team need to understand to effectively manage enrolment at their school.

After lunch, participants had the opportunity to improve their use of OpenApply during various workshops covering Status Management, Parent Experience, Managing Re-Enrolment, and Processing Applications.

Day 2 opened with a Keynote from Graham Gamble, Head of School at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City, on the trust parents put in schools to educate their children. He encouraged admissions officers to be genuine, true, and authenticate about the school and its mission, and reminded everyone of the importance of all families being able to trust the school with their children’s education.

Katie Rigney-Zimmermann, Director of Admissions & Marketing at Saigon South International School, discussed the role of data in admissions and the dangers of relying entirely on quantitative data and disregarding qualitative data. Katie encouraged attendees to make greater use of storytelling and qualitative “thick” data to communicate about the state of enrolment with the leadership team.

Next, Aimee Gruber shared recent parent survey run by the Enrollment Management Association providing information on how to win students and influence parents in today’s market. She emphasised the role that students play in picking the school, the importance of convincing mom, and presenting a clear value proposition for families. Aimee was followed by Raymond Whitney, Admissions Director at Chiang Mai International School, who introduced the elements of successful teams and how different personalities interact based on the four categories: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Participants took part in a self-assessment and discussed how they can better work together to successfully run admissions within their team or their school as a whole.

After lunch, Linda Belonje shared her strategies for creating a marketing plan for an international school. Linda went through 10 steps to creating an effective plan, but she also reminded us with her last step that no matter how well you plan, reality will always be a little different. Be patient and consistent and all will go well.

Participants then had the chance to break into smaller discussion groups to share their experiences and best practices during unconference facilitated by Katie Rigney-Zimmermann. Popular topics covered included: enrolment planning, onboarding new families, managing caps, and working with challenging families.

Maxine Driscoll, Founding Head of School at Australian International School Phnom Penh, wrapped up the day with a fun activity to show the group’s “collective genius”. Each person wrote three things they learned at the conference on three post-its, and then the post-its were combined to show the similarities and differences of what was learned. Maxine also introduced the importance of 21st Century Education and the skills necessary to be future ready for the changing international school landscape.

The evening ended with a beautiful sunset and delicious dinner at Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket.

You can see more photos here.

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