Admissions

In addition to enrollment management-specific competencies, AACRAO ensured that a common set of core competencies was developed that are applicable to all professionals in higher education. You can check out the core competencies here. Otherwise, continue scrolling to view the enrollment management-specific sets.

Note that due to differing institutional structures, you may find that specific proficiencies are described under a a different AACRAO professional grouping than is reflected by the organizational chart and duties and responsibilities in your specific office. Please reference the related AACRAO professions in Enrollment Management, Records & Academic Services and Cross-Functional for further information. If you cannot find a proficiency that you are looking for and would like to make a suggestion for a future version, contact us at competencies@aacrao.org.

The following proficiencies apply to positions in Admissions. To jump to a specific section, click any of the headers below. 



Creating a Communications Plan

Functional Description: Develop short and long-term strategic communications plans that deliver key messages to the right audience at the right time using multi-dimensional approaches to student recruitment. Implement robust communication plans at each stage in the enrollment process from prospect to applicant to admitted student to enrolled. Work with faculty and other campus constituents to develop focused communications plans. 

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding of institutional image and brand;  understanding of  admissions funnels and cycles for various populations; best practices for engaging through social media; knowledge of institutional mission and programs; understanding of student information system database.

Skill requirements: Strong written communication and problem solving skills; excellent interpersonal communication, editing and organizational skills; ability to handle details and multiple tasks with deadlines; possibly experience in web management, electronic communication, and social media; understanding of CRM technology and familiarity with technology options.

Ethical requirements: Honesty and integrity, adherence to NACAC Principles of Good Practice including not speaking negatively about other schools.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelMessaging conveys brand value; communication plans integrated with the recruitment process, beginning at the prospective student stage and continuing until the student is enrolled; communications have a clear call to action appropriate for the student; series of communications to alert students when their applications are complete or when items are needed; manage requests from other campus offices to communicate with prospective students, applicants and incoming students; evaluate effectiveness of plan.

Intermediate level: Entry level skills and: messages targeted by student population focus on the key marketing messages of the institution, with particular attention paid to academic outcomes; yield communications plan designed to build commitment to the university;  segment communications for specific audiences such as early outreach students, international students, transfer students; variety of media including emails designed to augment and enhance direct mail communications; tele-counseling plan; customized communications based on interests, actions, and demographic data; communications to “stealth” inquiries by optimizing the website with tools like virtual tours, social media and mobile resources.

Expert level: Intermediate level skills and: use of predictive modeling and qualification to group students according to their likelihood of enrolling and use resources accordingly; ensure that front-line staff use predictive data to prioritize contacts; create comprehensive communications plans for parents of prospective students, high school counselors, and other stakeholders; track & troubleshoot issues, report on delivery rates & links accessed, resolve data errors, research/track website site usage, and recommend developments to increase traffic; perform continuous benchmarking of other higher education institutions for best practices and content.

Back to the Top

Developing Speeches and Presentations

Functional Description: Develop speeches and presentations that highlight institutional strengths and encourage students to enroll or convey crucial information to other stakeholders on or off campus. These should include a variety of formats that can be delivered to students, parents, counselors, and others, from individual and small group settings to large assemblies.

Content knowledge requirements: Institution-specific knowledge, familiarity with the college search process and admissions models and terminology, understanding of financial aid, basic understanding of marketing to perspective students and parents.   

Skill requirements: Public speaking, technology necessary for developing visuals, audience awareness, content knowledge, writing skills, basic grammar and etiquette.

Ethical requirements: Honesty and integrity, adherence to national or international standard guidelines including not speaking negatively about other schools

Expertise Levels

Entry levelDelivery of a prepared presentation or speech with: minimal or no verbal disfluencies (like, uh, you know, etc.); appropriate eye contact with audience; stays on topic; illustrates points with examples; does not read from paper or screen; few or no distracting body movements (swaying, pacing, etc.); appropriate responses to questions; covers all material in time allotted. Creation of a basic presentation with appropriate font size and background color.

Intermediate levelDelivery of a prepared presentation or speech at entry level and: adjusts content based on audience reaction or characteristics; handles questions skillfully by turning negatives into positives or refocusing to stay on message; avoids being drawn into highly personalized responses not pertaining to most audience members; engages with audience.   Creation of a presentation making use of a variety of media as appropriate, including video, audience-response technology, or similar as appropriate.

Expert levelDelivery of a prepared or impromptu speech or presentation at intermediate level and: highly engages all audience members no matter what the size of the group; uses props or similar as appropriate to illustrate points; conveys material in an entertaining manner that is memorable and convincing; anticipates audience needs and objections and counters skillfully without appearing to do so.

Back to the Top

Evaluating Emerging Technologies 

Functional Description: Research and evaluate emerging technologies in the admissions field and, in collaboration with other enrollment units and IT, develop strategies to implement and deploy solutions that improve business processes and student satisfaction.

Content knowledge requirements: Strong understanding of the recruitment and admission cycles and their associated core business processes.

Skill requirements: Written and oral communication skills. Customer service and leadership skills. Technical skills to include, hardware maintenance and support, desktop application support, website and application design and programming, technical documentation, database management, and SQL reporting.

Ethical requirements: Conduct aligned to the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelUnderstands and appreciates the importance of emerging technologies as they apply to process improvement. Assists with the development of new admissions tech projects.

Intermediate levelResponsible for maintaining and improving existing technical solutions supporting admission and recruiting processes. Identifies admissions functions that would benefit from the employment of an appropriate technology. Helps manage new technical projects.

Expert levelLeads in the evaluation and deployment of technological solutions that improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of recruiting, processing, and admissions/enrollment management. Collaborates with IT Services and other units to develop comprehensive strategies for optimal resource management in the implementation of new systems.

Back to the Top

Market Analysis

Functional Description: Analyze the enrollment landscape for your institution and develop a recruitment plan to help reach your enrollment goals. This includes utilizing search tools to develop a prospect base (such as PSAT and AP), conducting outreach visits to high schools and community colleges, selecting appropriate recruitment fairs both in and out of state- including international, and identifying opportunities to deploy students, faculty, alumni and other potential recruiters.

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding of the sources of data, both institutional as well as external, that can be used to build a recruitment plan. Ability to collate and analyze the data and integrate it into recruitment planning. Ability to anticipate how changes in policy and business practice will impact recruitment trends.

Skill requirements: Strong skills in data analysis, project management, communication, staff development, business process and policy analysis, and creativity required.

Ethical requirements: Conduct aligned with the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services. Ensure that campus codes of conduct and ethics are followed.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelUnderstands the general sources of institutional data and general market data and how analysis is performed by the institutional to develop its communication plan. Develops relationships with institutional research offices and other offices which may provide sources of data.

Intermediate levelDemonstrated success in using institutional and external data to modify and improve an existing recruitment plan to optimize application and yield rates based on the data.  Ability to create a recruitment plan for a particular segment or small population of students.  Understanding of how to interpret results of data analysis in view of recent changes to policy or business practice.

Expert levelDemonstrated success in using institutional and external data to create a recruitment plan. Integrates census, WICHE, and other national data trends into a multi-year recruitment plan. Plan must be focused and realistic in nature that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of the campus.

Back to the Top

Reporting Progress Toward Enrollment Goals

Functional DescriptionDevelop reports to help inform faculty and higher administration of progress toward achieving enrollment goals.

Content knowledge requirements: Requires a clear understanding of the admission cycle, including conversion rates throughout the cycle. Must be familiar with the institution’s expectations on any specific geographic, ethnic, socioeconomic enrollment targets. Must be knowledgeable of the institution’s historical performance, as well as, the competitive marketplace.  

Skill requirementsGood communication skills. Visual thinker. Average to advanced knowledge of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint or similar software. Working knowledge of how to access and retrieve specific admissions data from the institution’s data warehouse.

Ethical requirementsConduct aligned to the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelDevelops and shares routine enrollment reports. Provides information on the past, current, and projected counts for the various characteristics of applicants, admitted students, and paid deposit counts. Collaborates with admission leaders to develop other specific reports as needed.

Intermediate levelCollaborates with the Director of Admissions and other university officials in setting specific and realistic enrollment targets. Develops and reports on admission strategy to achieve desired targets. Provides timely reports necessary to facilitate necessary enrollment and/or target adjustments by the institution’s leadership.

Expert levelConducts on-going predictive enrollment analysis of the incoming class. Designs and maintains a shared online dashboard using tables and charts to depict current and projected enrollment status. 

Back to the Top

Strategic Staffing and Organization

Functional DescriptionEvaluate the staffing structure of the admissions office and identify the optimal configuration to complete necessary tasks and meet the enrollment goals of the institution. This would include the ability to anticipate workloads and appropriately deploy staff with an understanding of the admissions decision process, operational effectiveness, and application processing. 

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding of the relationships between enrollment goals and the workload required to achieve these goals. Understanding of the application processing cycle(s). Knowledge of workload capacity of individual staff, and ability to calculate the overall staffing requirements throughout the application and recruitment cycle. Awareness that strategic deployment of operation staffing is essential to effective recruitment. Understanding of human resources policies, labor laws, and best staff recruitment and development practices.

Skill requirementsStrong skills in data analysis, project management, communication, staff development, business process and policy analysis, and creativity required.  

Ethical requirementsConduct aligned with the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services. Ensure that campus codes of conduct and ethics are followed.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelGeneral understanding of the processes and policies used to review and process applications and the value of accurate and timely review of applications. Familiarity with hiring and management practices.

Intermediate levelManagement experiences of an operational unit within an admissions office, overseeing the hiring, training, management, continued development and termination of staff within the unit. Review business processes for continuous improvement and implement changes to them as necessary to support the recruitment mission of the unit.

Expert levelExperience at the director level to align operational staffing within the admissions office and to shift staffing across the various units (e.g., recruitment, front line, operations) in the admissions office to maximize effectiveness and contain costs. Plan for annual budget needs to increase or redistribute resources across the office.

Back to the Top

Utilizing Social Media

Functional DescriptionUnderstand social media and develop strategies to integrate it into your recruitment and communication plan.

Content knowledge requirements: Knowledge and understanding of the ever-emerging variety of social media platforms and how social media differs from traditional media outlets.

Skill requirementsStrong skills in communication, data analysis, improvisation, visual thinking, and creativity.

Ethical requirementsConduct aligned to the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services. 

Expertise Levels

Entry levelUnderstands the general characteristics and differences of social media platforms. Ability to utilize most popular platforms for basic event management, promotion of recruitment activity, and customer service. Presents and explains information in an articulate manner. 

Intermediate levelResponsible for day-to-day front line community engagement activities including timely response. Stays current with emerging digital trends and technology. Develops creative design approaches to communicate key points. Provides thought-provoking content through multiple formats, ensuring the content is findable through browser keyword analysis. Baseline knowledge of most effective way to triage questions and collaborate with other campus units on content.

Expert level: Implements effective social media marketing strategy and content management. Possesses a thorough understanding of web analytics and its importance in making data-driven recruitment and marketing decisions. Maintains a strategic vision aligned to admissions efforts and university goals. Effectively coordinates social media efforts with campus partners. Reviews ROI and other metrics/analytics regularly.

Back to the Top