AACRAO working to improve admissions career path

October 4, 2020
  • AACRAO News
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Competencies
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
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Many have risen through the ranks of admissions officer, manager, director and, ultimately, chief enrollment officer who cut their teeth with the help of AACRAO’s network and professional development opportunities.

However, AACRAO recognizes the need to better serve and advance our admissions professionals. Toward that end, in  2018, the Admissions Career Path Work Group was formed to explore enhanced development and training for professionals in the admissions field.

Work group charge and members

Admissions professionals with a breadth of experience and from a wide range of institution types served on the Group, including: co-chairs Tania Castaneda, Rutgers University, and Nathan Fuerst, University of Connecticut; Candace Boeninger, Ohio University; Angela Brockelsby, NC State University; Charles Carabello, University of Georgia; James Coker, East Carolina University; Lisa Dougherty, Hudson County Community College; Rachelle Hernandez, University of Texas—Austin; Song Hoffman, University of Delaware; Jessica Jaramillo, New Mexico Highlands University; Gwen Kanelos, Concordia University Chicago; Tiffani Robertson, Governors State University; Heather Shalley, Moody Bible Institute; and Nancy Walsh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The Work Group conducted a rigorous assessment of current AACRAO admissions professional development curricula, a broad inventory of developmental opportunities offered through other similar organizations and a survey to practitioners to gain first-hand insight into the learning needs and wants of the profession at the entry-, mid-career, and expert levels. 


The Work Group identified the following needs:

  • More, and more affordable, admissions-oriented professional development,
  • Updated material, particularly around technology,
  • Contemporary, topical training,
  • A redefined view of admissions as an integral component of enrollment management and student success. 

They have put forth a detailed set of recommendations to advise AACRAO on future direction and development with respect to more effectively engaging the admissions field.

Here are seven key recommendations, truncated for the purposes of this article.

AACRAO needs to re-position itself as a key provider of admissions training and development. This begins with a framework of understanding of admissions as a multi-faceted and dynamic career path, as well as a strategic and student-centered component of enrollment management. 

AACRAO should actively seek to engage on its committees professionals who represent a diversity of areas within admissions. The Work Group further recommends charging admissions-oriented committees with an active role in engaging admissions professionals and recommending a range of training/development opportunities relevant to the field.

AACRAO should offer more condensed trainings in areas of contemporary interest. Topics could include, among many others: Application review and new models for selection/admission; Self-reported academic records (and use of technology for operational efficiencies); Test optional/test flexible/test blind approaches; Management and supervisory skills; Data and analytics in decision-making, etc.

AACRAO should consider organizing its development and training to align with how admissions practitioners understand their work.  Admissions professionals often have functional areas of expertise or are highly focused on specific populations of interest (e.g., operations and processing, recruitment and outreach, international, transfers, diversity and access). 

AACRAO should create a clear road map or legend for its offerings. These should outline development/trainings’ relevance to entry, intermediate, or expert level audiences; common functional areas of expertise or population focus areas; and/or appropriate admissions titles to denote career level, e.g., admissions officer, assistant/associate director, director, AVP/VP, etc.

AACRAO should develop intermediate level professionals. In addition to trending or ‘hot’ topics, admissions practitioners have an interest in career growth strategies, and crave guidance on how to mobilize from the entry to expert or chief officer role.

AACRAO should be responsive to admissions professionals’ preferred modes and styles of development delivery. The evidence suggests short, highly focused in-person sessions or webinars on topical areas that also provide opportunity for interaction and/or networking (e.g., discussion, Q&As, case studies, etc.) would be received well. 

The full report, with ten key recommendations, was submitted to the AACRAO Board and executive leadership, and has become an instrumental guiding document for the organization and its direction relative to engaging the admissions profession.  


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