Introduction from Jessica Fortin, IAB Co-editor

While Julia’s name had been familiar to me for years, my first real connection with her was as a fellow learner in the first SPAN Laws of Transition cohort in the fall of 2021. We collaborated on an episode of “The Nest” with SPAN in November 2021 and I have leaned on her for ideas and guidance on everything from transition to advancement structure over the subsequent two years. When considering who might have insight into this issue’s theme of change, her name immediately came to mind. Read on to learn why.

IAB: You have been working in international school admissions for over 18 years. What changes have you seen in the field over this time? Is there a change that you feel has been a particularly positive development for admissions in international schools?

JL: I believe that the most positive development for admissions has been the respect and recognition that our field has been given.

Having started my admissions career in the US independent school world, where admissions is highly regarded and the Director is almost always a member of the senior leadership team, I was surprised that international schools did not pay the same respect to the field. Not so many years ago, conversations among international school directors of admissions focused on not having a seat at the table and not being acknowledged for the critical role we play in schools. Many of us have worked hard to keep the conversation going and to raise the profile of the admissions director role, and to ensure that this role is given the appropriate recognition and status that it deserves. After all, we keep our schools afloat.

One of our colleagues referred to us as the “CRO – Chief Revenue Officer.”

Today, it is rare that an Admissions Director in an international school is not on the senior leadership team.

The evolution has been wonderful to witness as more and more schools appreciate the significant role of the admissions office to the survival of schools.

I think secondly, the advancements in automation of the admissions process have significantly, and positively, helped us progress and become far more efficient. I am grateful to the many tech companies who have worked tirelessly to support the ever-changing landscape of admissions.

IAB: Taking a look into your crystal ball (all Admissions Directors have them, right?!), what changes do you envision happening over the next five years in the field of international school admissions?

JL: Perhaps my crystal ball is a little blurry and not as clear, but I don’t necessarily envision major changes in the coming few years. I think the past few years forced many of us to rethink how we approach admissions as we were forced to pivot rather quickly. Some systems that were put into place during the pandemic have proven to be effective and efficient. We are still grappling with how much we should “go back to the way things were” and how much to keep because we’ve learned that it is good practice.

I believe more and more admissions teams will experience more automation, more creative ways of assessing students (testing students from afar), and the need for on-campus visits will be less and less as more schools advance their virtual opportunities for prospective families.

There may no longer be a need for families to see a school in person before making a selection for their children.

This part does make me sad. I have loved my 25 years in admissions for many reasons but more than anything it has been the personal relationships that I build with families. I hate to think that we can completely move away from the human-centric part of what we do. That said, I look forward to watching what is to come!

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