OpenApply held its 17th conference (the ninth to take place in the Asia-Pacific region) on November 3-4 at the Tanglin Trust School in Singapore. We were thrilled to welcome over 70 attendees from 37 schools in 17 countries from all over the world.

The theme of the conference was The Changing Face of Admissions, and the programme was broken down into sessions led by Admissions, Marketing and Advancement Professionals, and OpenApply. We designed the event to be as engaging, immersive and interactive as possible, to encourage dialogue between all attendees. Our intention was to bring the admissions community together and facilitate an exploration of tomorrow’s emerging strategies for attracting, evaluating and admitting prospective students.

There is an increasing necessity for international and independent schools to proactively direct the advancement of their school rather than merely reacting to change. From maximising efficiency and prioritising applicant focus, to using AI and machine learning in the admissions office, a plethora of hot topics were unpacked and explored.

You can find an overview of the topics covered during the conference here, as well as videos from the first and second day of the conference below:

  • Jodie Sovak and Gautami Ramachandhran from American International School Chennai kicked off the professional development agenda with an inspirational session on how cultivating a culture of tiny gestures can amplify a school’s mission and narrative. These underemphasised but transformative actions resonate deeply with families, students, and colleagues and have a big impact on community engagement.
  • Kellie Hammond from the Tanglin Trust School gave an insightful summary of the school’s journey with OpenApply, and how this has evolved from their implementation of the system through to their current usage. She also shared insights and experience that she gained having previously worked with OpenApply at another school in Asia.
  • David Lindberg from Korean International School shared practical advice around connecting and supporting prospective families, new students, and current students with the help of alumni and current families and students. He shared examples of how his school is helping students and families as they transition to a new area, find a new school, or determine what university is the best fit.
  • Câline Fonteneau and Anthony Fibleuil from KIS International School led a thought-provoking session on how they transformed their use of OpenApply data to inform predictive metrics, improved retention, created an enrolment dashboard, and defined a lead generation CRM campaign.
  • Renee Gian and Nicki Rampton from Shanghai American School shared a number of impactful ways to nurture a successful collaborative admissions team. They engaged the audience in interactive activities to exchange insights and best practices, helping overcome common challenges and providing practical strategies for creating a unified and thriving admissions team.
  • Anisha Seth from DSB International School highlighted the important philosophy that admissions is not a uni-directional function, leading towards the school, but can play an important role in influencing school culture, growth and development.
  • Shaliza Ali from Aga Khan Academy Maputo explored how existing practices in the admissions role can be innovated and made more customer friendly in order to optimise conversion from enquiry to enrolment. She emphasised the importance of building a connection with families, knowing what they are looking for in a school, and fostering relationships with potential parents to demonstrate care.
  • Heidi Reid, CEO of the International Diagnostic & Admissions Test, gave an insightful presentation into how schools can make testing inclusive and friendly, and demonstrate the support and culture of the school. A key takeaway was that schools can benefit greatly by making admissions assessment a marketing tool, rather than an impediment for students applying.
  • A panel consisting of David Lindberg (Korean International School), Kellie Hammond (Tanglin Trust School), Jodie Sovak (American International School Chennai), Caline Fonteneau (KIS International School), Shaliza Ali (Aga Khan Academy Maputo) and Tom Kirby (OpenApply) discussed key topics for enrolment management and outlined strategies for success, including how to align admissions and marketing, what key data schools should analyse, recent challenges faced by international and independent schools, and best practices.

We greatly appreciate the contributions from all of the speakers, and all resources are shared with the attendees after the conference.

What some of our attendees said!

“This is the best conference I’ve ever attended in my career. The people in the room were results focused and action oriented. It was a safe space to learn from each other and develop best practices in a non-competitive setting.”Melissa Davison, ELC International School

“My conference experience was incredibly enriching. The diverse topics covered, engaging discussions, and the opportunity to connect with peers made it a valuable and inspiring event.”Micael Cardin Ngoma Mavoungou, International School of Gabon Ruban Vert

“Amazing, I just felt our language was Admissions. All the challenges we face are universal.” Seema Thomas, American International School Chennai

“An invaluable learning experience which I know will help enormously as we embark on our OpenApply journey.”Ann Smith, ABA Oman International School

“It was a great conference with engaging workshops, valuable insights from other International School Admissions teams, and a great connection event.”Jane Moleon, KIS International School, Bangkok, Thailand

“Being new to the world of Admissions, it was insightful and so lovely to network with other Admissions people. I came away having gained so much knowledge and it’s nice to know everyone is facing similar challenges. The specific OpenApply workshops were incredibly helpful and I hope to attend next year!”Rebecca Dillon, Jerudong International School Brunei 

We thank everyone who joined us for being generous with their ideas and experiences, and we hope to see you at our next conference!

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