[Archives] Admissions Office Employs Systematic Approach To Minority Enrollment
In recent years, Milton has emphasized its diverse student population. As Headmaster Jerome Pieh points out, the Milton community must invariably “learn to deal with all sorts of people.” This diversity of students can be largely attributed to the diligent efforts of the school’s Office of Admissions. The admissions staff, actively pursuing through a systematic method the enrollment of minority students, has gone through various channels to attract and to inform these prospective students.
The admissions staff understands the need for an efficient outreach program to inform minority students about boarding school. Neville Lake, Associate Director of Admissions, asserts that this system “can hardly be described as a passive kind of approach. It is definitely rigorous and active.” Diane Proctor, Director of Admissions, feels that such an approach is necessary, for “we [the admissions staff] cannot afford to be complacent.” She points out that most families are “unfamiliar” with the concept of boarding school.
This active approach invariably takes the form of numerous trips by members of the Admissions Office to locations around the country. Generally, when visiting cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, the admissions staff, according to Lake, “visits schools and identifies guidance counselors who may be contacted in the future.” At these schools, the guidance counselors present a group of feasible applicants to the admissions staff.
Proctor cites a trip to Southern California as being particularly successful and representative of the Admissions Office’s detailed approach to minority recruitment. Designed to target prospective Hispanic applicants, this trip was focused on Los Angeles and San Diego. According to Proctor, the admissions staff first visited the many inner city schools and discussed “with a good number of students, guidance counselors and superintendents” the concept of a New England boarding school. In addition to these meetings, Milton initiated a luncheon for leaders of city organizations affiliated with minority communities. “We received from our graduate there, Rod Skinner, a list of twenty-two leaders of organizations as varied as Chicano Federation, Chinese Social Service Center, and St. Steven’s Church of God and Christ,” says Proctor.
During these luncheons, Milton’s admissions staff discussed not only the school but also the entire concept of boarding school. Also, to ensure continued contact between Milton and these schools and organizations, the Admissions Office sent back, after the luncheon, additional information regarding Milton.
The ostensible goal of this systematic, detailed approach is the dissemination of knowledge regarding Milton and the idea of boarding school. Indeed, Lake, in comparing minority students and non-minority students are the “least informed” because “tradition just isn’t there”; consequently, the idea of boarding school is a “brand new notion” for these students. Lake also points out that this “common ignorance” is due to their absence from the “cocktail circuit.” Lake feels that, because of this paucity of knowledge, “the recruitment task takes on a new dimension.” This new dimension, adds Lake, is “one of information. We never beg students or sell Milton; we inform people, and this is the most important thing.”
This informational approach to the recruitment of minority students has been entirely successful. Lake reports that the Admissions Office is “generating more minority student applications than it can handle.” Proctor concurs, indicating that Milton is “opening up new markets” for minority students, and that consequently, the minority applicants are of a higher quality.
In tapping these vast resources of minority students, Milton has begun to work with Andover, Groton, and Deerfield. “We are finding that it’s better collaborating than competing,” states Lake. Lake, fully advocating this idea, believes that the schools not only can “pull resources together” and “compare contact lists,” but also can assist each other economically. In alluding to last year’s trip to Southern California, Lake points out that the schools were able to share the costs of rental cars.
In looking at Milton’s success in minority recruiting, Lake feels that the school should “avoid complacency” and continue to forge ahead. “Milton cannot afford to take a laissez-faire attitude and still exist as an independent school that attracts quality minority students.”
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