On March 29-30, 2019 we held our third admissions conference in Europe and tenth overall at the American School of Milan in Italy. We were thrilled to welcome over 70 participants representing 50 schools from 22 countries.

See the full list of participating schools and find the conference programme here.

Michael Smith, Director of American School of Valencia, kicked off the conference with a discussion about admissions’ role in establishing a school’s culture. He set the tone for the weekend with a discussion about admissions challenges, a reminder to network, and concrete suggestions for how attendees could help mold culture and create the future at their schools.

Next Sandra Helmig, a High School Learning Support Teacher from Inter-Community School Zürich with a background in admissions, spoke on Admissions & Inclusion. Sandra provided example cases of inclusive admissions challenges from her previous experience, and walked the attendees through how decisions were made.

After the coffee break, Robin Berting, Admissions Manager, and Sara Sulaimani, Admissions Officer, from the International School of Brussels, shared their experiences over the past year with their innovative Admissions Experience Room. Although they were hesitant at first, Robin and Sara found that many of their initial reservations about the experience room were proven wrong. They also shared some of the data they’ve collected on what’s most important to each family that has passed through the room, making some interesting comparisons across cultures.

During the afternoon OpenApply team members Tom Kirby, Greg Sturm, and Ashley Kirk led three OpenApply workshops providing hands on experience with the system for all attendees. The workshop topics included an Introduction to OpenApply, Insights and Analytics for Admissions and Marketing, and Family Friendly Re-Enrolment. Debbie Eisenach from OpenApply’s partner Finalsite also provided a workshop emphasising the importance of collaboration between Admissions & Marketing. OpenApply and Finalsite are excited to be working on an integration of their powerful admissions and marketing tools to enhance their schools’ admissions and marketing processes.

The afternoon wrapped up with an unconference led by Jess Fortin, Admissions Director, from International Community School of Addis Ababa. Jess helped to facilitate follow up discussions from the morning’s presentations, before opening up the discussions to various admissions topics such as helping families transiton, re-enrolment, communicating decisions, and more. 

In the evening conference attendees enjoyed a traditional Italian Aperitivo at Identità Golose in the heart of Milan’s famous Duomo neighborhood.

OpenApply Director MacKenzie Hovermale opened day two of the conference with a company update including recent Faria Education Group news, information on recent product updates, and a sneak peek at the product roadmap for the upcoming months.

Next, Director of Admissions and Advancement at American School of Milan, Sara Griffith, shared insights into her school’s journey taking their admissions paperless with OpenApply. Sara highlighted that OpenApply was more than just a paperless admissions tool for ASM, as it helps them with a range of tasks from providing data for marketing initiatives to facilitating compliance. Sara and her team helpfully answered many questions from the audience. 

Miguel Martinez Hernando, Admissions Coordinator and Data Protection Officer from Benjamin Franklin International School, then gave an informative talk on admissions and data protection, a hot topic in international schools, especially in Europe. Miguel shared some of the steps that his school has taken to ensure they are GDPR compliant, providing examples of forms and processes used at BFIS. The presentation included a time for Q&A, and the many questions proved that this is still a major challenge for schools, even almost a year after GDPR went into effect.

The morning was wrapped up by Claudine Hakim, Head of Admissions and Transitions, and Brit Beckers, Admissions Officer, from the International School of London group. Claudine and Brit led an interactive discussion about Factors Affecting Enrolment Growth, including a case study on the International School of London, Surrey, one of their group’s schools that recently announced it would be closing. Participants were encouraged to identify the factors affecting their own school’s enrolment growth and how they could strategise to meet any challenges.

After lunch and a tour of the school, the OpenApply team led four more workshops on new OpenApply features, the parent journey, data management, and reviewing applicants


MacKenzie Hovermale then led the group in a closing activity to help ensure conference attendees would take away useful ideas from the conference and enact changes in their offices in the future. Final networking time was provided with some farewell drinks and snacks to wrap up another successful conference. A big thank you from OpenApply to American School of Milan and all the speakers and attendees who contributed to another successful event. More photos from the conference can be found HERE.

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