PA Admissions Hosts Ten Schools Admissions Organization Conference; Schools Share Statistics and Trends

Phillips Academy avoided many problems of peer schools in admission and financial aid this year, the Admissions Office learned on Monday. Andover saw an increase in applications, yield and financial aid budget while its acceptance rate dropped, according to Jane Fried, Dean of Admission. On Monday, directors and deans from the Ten Schools Admission Organization (TSAO) of New England boarding schools met in Cochran Chapel to discuss enrollment, recruitment and financial aid issues as part of the TSAO’s annual meetings. The schools compared their admission, financial aid and endowment statistics in the meeting. In general this year, the number of applications did not increase significantly, and schools saw a lower yield than in previous years, said Fried. “Despite the general trends, Andover had a very large increase in applications, our yield was up, we increased the financial aid budget and we decreased acceptance rate,” said Fried. “We went against the common trend.” As reported in The Phillipian last week, the tuition increased by two percent, a rise from $39,100 this past year to $39,900 for this upcoming year. According to Fried, the small increase in tuition cost allowed for this year’s larger financial aid budget. Fried said that the comparison of statistics between the TSAO schools allowed them to learn from one another. “We went over preliminary statistics for the year, focusing on everything from number of applications, financial aid grants, number of students on aid and changes in endowments. We focused less about individual schools and more about the general market,” she said. The spring meeting also identified “ways in which our schools are managing through the economic recessions,” said Fried. The TSAO is comprised of Choate Rosemary Hall, Deerfield Academy, the Hill School, the Hotchkiss School, the Lawrenceville School, the Loomis Chaffee School, Phillips Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy, St. Paul’s School and the Taft School. The TSAO invited Linda Maquire from Maquire Associates and Mark Mitchell from the School Scholarship Service, two renowned experts on financial aid and enrollment management, to discuss strategies for dealing with the severity of the recession. Both speakers concentrated on financial aid and endowment strategies. Maquire’s speech presented “Ten Ideas for Managing Through Difficult Times.” Fried said, “Maquire talked about the higher education perspective—what colleges are doing to counter the economic recession. Many colleges utilize different strategies. Some increase endowment spending while other try to level or decrease spending.” “I think it’s really important for secondary schools to discuss these different strategies because we’re fairly similar,” she continued. Before establishing Maquire Associates with her husband, Linda Maquire worked in the admissions field for nine years. She currently leads her firm’s initiatives in global markets and is a senior consultant for a wide range of clients, including secondary schools. Mark Mitchell is the Vice President for school informational services at the National Association of Independent Schools. Mitchell oversees the operation of the School and Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS), which provides schools with workshops and consultation to effectively administer financial aid programs. Mitchell’s speech was titled “Managing Financial Aid in Tough Times.” “We had a lot of discussion about returning families and how to support their financial needs in addition to attracting families in the future, in a time when the cost of a private school education is something they’re thinking about in a different way,” said Fried. The TSAO also finalized their recruitment schedule for the upcoming year. Every year, representatives from the TSAO travel around the country to build school interest and recruit prospective students. At the meeting, the TSAO schools decided what locations to visit and which schools were would plan the travels, according to Fried. “I think schools are focused on two things right now, addressing the needs of returning students and attracting new students during a rough economic climate,” said Fried. Dean of Admissions at St. Paul’s School Jada Hebra said, “From my point of view, this meeting is simply a great way for our colleagues to meet and discuss admissions trends.” “Being able to share experiences and trends with trusted colleagues helps us all to put our individual schools in a context and learn from each other,” Hebra added. Dean of Admissions at Choate Raymond Diffley wrote in an email, “We had nicely organized meetings and came out with some plans for collaborative work for the upcoming year to best serve students considering our schools.”