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Fragments II: micro stories about the learning business

A common application on the school admissions horizon

A few months ago I published an entry, asking a simple question, Should we reinvent the wheel of school admissions? It was based on a growing hunch that we might better serve globally mobile families by using a common application form.

I wanted to test the waters of this hunch and see who might be up for a change. So I circulated a survey. A total of 167 schools replied from every region of the world, with responses coming mainly from admissions directors or heads of school. When asked about their appetite to find out more about a common application form, 89% (148 respondents) answered positively.

Image representing a network like a series of connected lights
As a network of schools, it's time to consider if we are better working together than pursuing our own path.

So what does this mean?

Well, I'm not pretending there was a lot of science behind this brief survey. In reflecting and talking with colleagues around the world over recent weeks, however, I'm wondering whether the following is true:

When records began and all we had was paper, we all worked in silos, crafting our application forms. Then online systems came along and we worked with third-party providers to transcribe these beautiful forms onto digital platforms. Five to ten years later, I believe we are now entering the third age of school admissions - an age that puts the family first, is efficient, and gives up on the idea that unique is always better than common.

In short, I believe we are ready to create a common application for international schools.

It's been quite a journey these last few months. I've talked to a lot of people. Read some stuff. Thought a lot. And what I've learned, above all else, is that there's no need to reinvent the admissions wheel, because there are organisations that have already done much of the thinking and developed the tools we need to make this a reality.

What else have I learned?

  • A common application doesn't need to replace your existing online application provider, but working seamlessly with it.

  • A common application doesn't need to cost very much.

  • A common application doesn't mean you can't ask questions that are particular to your school.

  • A common application system will need to comply with the new European Data Protection Regulation.

  • A common application allows us, as a community of schools, to collect and analyse important market trends in different regions.

A few months ago I published an idea. This idea led to a series of conversations. It's now time to take these conversations to the next level. It's time for a few of us to sit around the table, hammer out the issues, and come back with something for the rest of you to test, consider and give feedback on.

More details to follow in due course. But if this is the kind of wheel you like to reinvent, please let me know.

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