Tommy Adams is the current Assistant Head of School for Enrollment at Mercersburg Academy (PA) and has been working in independent school admission for the past 20 years. A graduate of Avon Old Farms in Connecticut and the son of a former head of school, Tommy received his bachelor’s degree from Roanoke College in Virginia as well as a master’s of science in Education with a focus on Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Tommy has been a regular presenter at national events, such as TABS and SSATB, is a current member of the ASSIST School Retention Task Force, serves on Mercersburg’s Accreditation for Growth Planning Committee and is a long time Fellow at The Essex Institute.
While it is our job as admission directors and enrollment managers to focus on the present challenges facing independent school admission, we shouldn’t forget what the future looks like for our respective schools. The 2011-2012 NAIS Trendbook devotes a chapter to providing a snapshot of the future demographic picture in the United States. With a declining Caucasian child population and an increase in the Hispanic and Asian child populations, independent schools must determine ways to manage this demographic shift. For a long time, we have relied on a wealthy white population to enroll their children into our schools. However, with this population in decline, we are going to have to be strategic and determine ways to better market to other constituencies.
Given that the Hispanic and Asian populations do not have a strong history of sending their children to private schools, we as enrollment professionals will need to develop new strategies to introduce these families to our schools and their value. There will be an ability to pay among some within these two populations; thus it would be in our best interest to identify what these families value the most in their child’s education. With so many other options to chose from – public, charter, magnet, online, and homeschool – these families will need concrete evidence of the life changing benefits of an independent school education. Here at Mercersburg, we are just beginning to have conversations about this topic. Is anyone else having similar discussions? This will be one of the many topics discussed at the Essex Institute this coming June. Hope to see you there!