In consulting work, there seems to be no more common refrain than, “I know that idea may work at other schools, but we’re different.”
And no doubt, you are different.
As I’ve written about before, every school has a unique mission. And that, in and of itself, does indeed makes you different.
But – and it’s a BIG but – you’re not that different.
And before you tell me I’m contradicting myself, let me explain.
All private-independent schools share one extremely important common thread: we are student-centered. Or at least we’re supposed to be.
When we are student-centered, the decisions we make are (you guessed it) all about what’s best for the kids we serve.
But this, it seems, is where schools often get stuck. Rather than being bold on behalf of our students, we become more concerned with the vocal minority of adults.
A later start to school? Our parents will complain.
Putting an ask amount in a solicitation letter? We will offend someone.
Raise our tuition to fund our mission? Everyone will leave.
The truth is, if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got – whether it’s stressed out and tired kids, an annual fund that underperforms, or enrollment that shrinks because families don’t see the value.
Yes, sometimes, being student-centered means trying something that feels uncomfortable to the adults who make the decisions.
But if we’re looking to improve – to truly be different – we can’t just put lip-service to putting students at the center. We have to actually do it.