Ten ways to use AACRAO competencies with your 2017 New Year’s Resolution: Part two

By Joellen Shendy, Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar, University of Maryland University College, and Patrick Elliott, Senior Associate Registrar, University of Maryland University College

We are one month into the new year now. Statistically, two-thirds of people who made a new year’s resolution have stuck with it (Statistic Brain, 2015). That number drops to slightly under half by the second month.  We are helping you beat the odds by continuing to Part Two our series on ten ways to use the AACRAO professional competencies this year. Our suggestions will help you achieve your professional development goals, even if they did not make your resolution list.

Part One (resolutions 1-5) outlined five foundational uses. Now we will explore five more nuanced applications for the AACRAO professional competencies. Regardless of your type and size of your office, we are sure you can find at least one use to adopt in your organization.

6. Help you plan conference attendees across the office using the competencies to identify opportunity and growth for staff

It is rare for an entire office to participate in any given conference. Funding is tight, and our teams must remain operational. That does not mean we should haphazardly select which staff participates in the professional development and networking opportunities that conferences provide. The AACRAO Professional Competencies provide a framework that we can use to match up gaps in skill with the meeting agendas. You can use it to maximize your office’s conference participation and professional development dollars.

To get started, complete a competency benchmark and prioritization analysis found in #1 and #2 from Part One, respectively. With that information, you can use the AACRAO Session Database to search the agenda for the 2017 Annual Meeting and the 2017 Tech and Transfer Conference. There may be other conferences that could benefit your team. Do not forget to look for conferences and training sessions related to your student information system and other system vendors or education community supports like the PW20 Educational Standards Council (PESC), who holds two conferences per year. Use the conference agendas to finds sessions and topics that will address the needs in your office. Prioritize conferences that have the most number of useful sessions or sessions that relate to your highest need. At the end of this exercise, you will know which events to target.

Your final step it to determine which staff to send to the conference. Review your team and determine which members could best serve the organization with training. You could prioritize based on staff who have related skills and the extra training would be a natural evolution for them. New competencies can enhance existing skills or allow someone to gain proficiency in a new area.  You should determine which approach is best for your office.

7. As an engagement tool for staff who want to grow in the profession

We often joke in the profession that nobody says they want to be a registrar when they grow up. That may be true; nobody has ever produced evidence of a child declaring their love for the profession. But what do you do when a colleague expresses interest in joining the field? Worse yet, what if nobody in the office has expressed interest in growing? How do you engage your coworkers in your admissions, enrollment management, or registration profession?

AACRAO’s professional competencies provide a framework for staff to understand how to grow in the field. The Core Professional Competencies are the foundational skills required in any AACRAO-related position. The Admissions Core Competencies, Enrollment Management Core Competencies, and Registrar Core Competencies focus on the proficiencies needed for the respective areas. You can encourage your staff to review the report and come up with suggestions on areas they need to develop and possible resources to use. Have your employees get involved in their professional development.

If your organization has access to training resources such as self-paced, online skill courses or a training and development team, you could help staff connect with those resources. Fortunately, we are in the business of education; sometimes we forget to take advantage of our pedagogy and content experts. Try to connect with faculty and internal learning resources as you are able to build a toolbox of resources that you can use in your office.  

8. Help make the performance assessment process easier - tying staff KSA's to professional competencies

Most people dread the performance appraisals. People fear not knowing how the supervisor will evaluate them and if they will miss the mark. The AACRAO professional competencies can take the guesswork out of the process by providing ten core competencies and up to eight profession-specific competencies and assessment metrics. There are multiple ways you can use these as a template for employee assessment.

When developing position descriptions, review the core competencies and include them in the job functions. Go beyond buzzwords and use the AACRAO’s expertise levels to provide details on what you expect staff to do and skills that they possess.

Be sure to break out the professional competencies at the start of each appraisal cycle to ensure you are evaluating staff on the dimensions that matter. Whenever possible, include the competencies and mastery details. If staff does not have needed competencies, make it their goal to acquire the necessary skills. See sections #2, #6, and #7 for suggestions.

When it is time for a review session with your employee, remember to talk regarding competencies. While accomplishments are important and should be recognized, using the AACRAO professional competencies will help you paint the broad picture of your employee and empathize career trajectory.

9. Way to discover hidden competencies and talents in your office and leverage them for training and development

The AACRAO professional competencies provide a detailed review of the skills required in the AACRAO professions. As such, it is likely that a given person will not possess expert-level proficiencies in all area. Admissions and Registrar offices vary in responsibility too, which means, depending on your office you will likely have competencies that are less used than others.

Look for those core competencies that your team rarely gets to exercise. You can repeat the benchmarking exercise in #1 to document your staff’s competencies. Look for that area of expertise that you may not use. For example, if a team member has a knack for synthesizing information into infographics, create an opportunity for the employee to practice and showcase the skill, even I data graphics are not a typical product of your office. In this case, she or he would be demonstrating the core competency of Interpretation and Application of Data and the Registrar core competency of Communication Skills.

Complete this assessment frequently and look for hidden talents that your staff can showcase. This process creates a win-win by expanding the skills and work products in your office while playing to the strengths of your team. Staff are more likely to take on a new task if it is something they enjoy and at which they excel.

10. Brush up on skills for a new role or when entering the profession.

If you find yourself new to the Admissions, Enrollment Management, and Registrar professions, the AACRAO professional competencies can help you start your career. They provide a roadmap of proficiencies that you will need. Review the list of core competencies and position-specific competencies and assess yourself. Look for areas in which you are an expert and identify areas where you need growth.

You should play to your strengths, prioritizing tasks and initiatives that complement your skill set. This strategy will give you quick wins and build your reputation in your organization. Do not ignore your weaknesses, however. You should create a plan to learn and improve on these skills. Review the benchmark process to create an assessment and plan for yourself.

If you are feeling lost, make sure you visit the AACRAO website to find an additional resource for new professionals. AACRAO offers a course for new registrars and admissions counselors. Search the site for additional resources and plan to attend the next annual meeting or AACRAO conference to learn more and network with other professionals.


With our ten suggested uses for the AACRAO professional competencies, we encourage you to join us in making 2017 a year of professional development. You owe it to yourself, your teams, and our profession. These strategies will lay the foundation for success in your organization, assisting with resource allocation, succession planning, performance appraisals, and hiring. We encourage you to find your own uses and let us know. Share your success stories too!



AACRAO. (2015, March 27). Report of the AACRAO Professional Competencies and Proficiencies Working Group. Retrieved from http://www.aacrao.org/docs/default-source/pro_development/download-here.pdf

NY Photographic. (2016). Assessment [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://jphotostyle.com/handwriting/a/assessment.html

Statistic Brain. (2015, December 11). New years resolution statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/