What core competencies define the admissions professional?

What was your path to becoming a professional in higher education admissions? Is it a career you dreamed about as a child? Did you get your degree in admissions counseling?

“Most of us came into the profession by accident,” said Luisa Havens, Vice President for Enrollment Services at Florida International University. “Especially those of us who have been in the profession for twenty or more years—we didn’t consciously choose to become admissions professionals. There wasn’t even a specific credential we could obtain in this field.”

Until recently, registrars, enrollment services and admissions professionals didn’t have a delineated and credentialed career path.

“There weren’t degrees; there wasn’t a defined body of knowledge or a document that clearly shined a light into the anatomy of these professions,” Havens said. “But over the last five years, there has been a lot of effort by this working group, led by former AACRAO president Jeff von Munkwitz-Smith, gathering information and creating this publication to define what makes what we do a profession. It isn’t just a job or an art form—there are certain concrete competencies needed to be successful in our field.”

10 core competencies of all AACRAO professions

Last March, AACRAO published the Report of the Core Competencies and Proficiencies working group, which identifies ten core competencies that all AACRAO professionals – enrollment management, registrar and admissions – need at entry, intermediate and expert levels.

In addition, it lays out seven core proficiencies particular to admissions professionals, including the following:

  • Creating a collaborative communications plan.
  • Developing speeches and presentations.
  • Evaluating emerging technologies
  • Undertaking relevant market analysis.
  • Reporting progress toward enrollment goals.
  • Establishing a strategic office staffing and operations structure.
  • Utilizing social media.

“This document provides our professions with visibility and validity,” Havens said. “But now we need to take the next step. What does this mean practically for us?”

The next step: Self-assessment and a personalized plan

The document can provide a roadmap to help guide your own or your staff’s professional development.

“This will help provide benchmarks for ROI,” Havens said.

For example, Havens is working with three other admissions professionals— Vern Granger, The Ohio State University; James Miller, University of Puget Sound; and  Cassandra Lachica-Chavez, El Paso Community College—to offer an inaugural admissions workshop that will operationalize the core competencies and proficiencies set forth in the document. The full-day workshop, held in conjunction with AACRAO’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, March 20-23, will be structured around the professional development needs of its participants.

“We’re developing a rubric for the workshop participants,” Havens said. “They’ll receive a self-assessment in advance of the meeting so we can tailor the workshop to attendees needs. And we’ll develop a targeted learning plan using, first and foremost, the content offered at the Annual Meeting, but also guidance about what other resources you can tap into, such as professional organizations or publications, to bring your competencies up. We’ll talk about why the competencies are important, what are the barriers to acquiring them, and how to go about developing them.”

The team teaching the workshop represents varied institutions—large public universities, community colleges, and private liberal arts schools—so participants can expect a diversity of perspectives and concrete, useful examples.

“We’re seeing a generation of people who are consciously choosing to go into this profession,” Havens said. “This competencies publication allows for an open conversation about the reality of the profession—it’s high-level, high-intensity responsibility. But if you go in with your eyes wide open, the sky’s the limit. And that’s very exciting.”

To view the full registration brochure, find out about our exciting plenary speakers and to register, click here: 2016 AACRAO Annual Meeting in Phoenix, March 20-23.


Earn an AACRAO Credential: The Strategic Enrollment Management Endorsement Program (SEM-EP)

SEM-EP provides a self-paced professional develoment program and career advancement track for enrollment professionals. Participants will participate in a pre-approved curriculum taught by highly-experienced faculty. Completion of the program is a valuable addition to a resumé and formal recognition by AACRAO regarding professional readiness for SEM positions.

Attending the 2016 AACRAO Annual Meeting fulfills a program requirement for SEM-EP. For more information, please visit the SEM-EP site