How To Make College Better, And Why We Need To…

Yes, I know he is my brother, but John Pryor’s ideas on improving schools make such sense and support my long-standing theories on 21st Century Skills. Spend the next 15 minutes listening to and learning from one of the greats. Enjoy.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Admissions, Creativity, Innovation, Lead From Within, Leadership, life long learning | Leave a comment

What Lurks Behind Your Data?

Recently, I watched a Ted Talk and I found it spot on as far as how we should bring relevance to data. Because schools are becoming evermore data driven in making decisions, I think it’s wise to understand the story behind the data and ask ourselves the hard questions.

Susan Etlinger delivered her Ted Talk, What Do We Do with All This Big Data?, from both her head and her heart. She not only shared why learning from data is critical in making decisions, she underscored the importance of telling the story behind the data, which makes the numbers even more relevant. Etlinger states, “data doesn’t create meaning…. we do.” I not only agree with her on the data side, I encourage her on the personal side. We have an opportunity to practice our critical thinking skills. We have an opportunity to think, to question, to understand. But, more importantly, we have a responsibility to report data supported by context.

Etlinger urges us to add context to our data, to use our critical thinking skills and to ask the hard questions. “Did the data really show us this or did the result make us feel more successful and more comfortable?”

As you watch, begin thinking of how you present your data to your board, your Head of School or your marketing committee. Are you making the numbers relevant? Are you allowing the data to come alive with a story? If so, you are on your way towards making stronger connections and better decisions, making data more relevant and useful and making headway in the competitive world of admissions.

Visit our site and call me to learn more about how Gowan Group brings relevance and significance to data for schools when we perform demographic studies and marketing, communications and admissions audits.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Admissions, Creativity, dynamic learner, Innovation, Leadership, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Helping schools fulfill and advance their missions is at the heart of our work as strategic enrollment management consultants – that includes strategic planning to ensure the long-term viability of an organization. Here are five signs a school may benefit from a new or renewed strategic enrollment management plan.

  • Board and faculty do not have a unified understanding of organization’s identity or you have a newly revised mission statement
  • Current messaging is more than 5 years old and is not consistent across the school community
  • Enrollment has been stagnant or steadily declining for 3 years or more
  • Significant change in leadership at either the Head of School or Director of Admissions level
  • Considering a marketing or communications plan with a new website or marketing material

** BONUS**

  • You have your 10 year accreditation looming overhead and need to gain focus on your self-study preparation

Gowan Group has experts available to work with you and your school on Enrollment Management and Strategic Planning.

Click here to learn more about the process.

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Dan Pink on Sales and His Ultimate Impact on Schools

I bet Dan Pink never knew he was going to be a thought leader in the world of independent school education, but he sure is. From his thoughts on right brain thinking or how to motivate people to his newest insight on sales, independent schools should be reading Pink very carefully. In these two videos Dan Pink shares his insight on how the world of sales has changed. Admissions offices can learn a great deal from the corporate world of sales and how to market themselves. Take a look for yourself and see what you think.

And, by the way, Gowan Group trains admissions professionals in the traditional art of sales. In fact, it is one of our four basic tenets.

Professional Development is critical for all of us to continue learning and growing: Throughout my career as a head of school, I was an ardent supporter of professional development; I believe as communities we must always learn and grow. Our admissions guidance programs are based on teaching skills that will allow your admissions office to evolve, and, in turn, increase your enrollment. More than that – the enrollment management process will provide the vehicle for your school to learn and grow together. It is an inclusive process that will solidify and strengthen your community.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Admissions, Creativity, Dan Pink, Leadership | Leave a comment

Who is Gowan Group?

We exist because schools must constantly advance 

Gowan Group is unique to the enrollment management and marketing world for independent schools and higher education institutions. We are joined and supported by an extensive list of experienced professionals across the country who represent several of the best consulting firms in the business, both strategy and design. Our focus is to offer a comprehensive approach to your enrollment management and marketing needs, some of which are listed below:

  • Demographic Studies
  • Marketing Audits
  • Communication Audits
  • Image Reports
  • Admissions Guidance using MBA skills
  • Research and Strategy
  • Enrollment Management Coaching
  • Marketing Material: print and digital
  • Website Design
  • Comprehensive Social Media Strategy
  • Professional Development Sessions
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Lighthouse


As President and Founder of Gowan Group, I am a life-long educator, strategist and researcher, I recently began my third decade of school leadership having held leadership positions at schools such as Harbor Country Day, The Independence School, Hackley, Rye Country Day and Tuxedo Park School. A skilled communicator and visionary practitioner, I have led my schools through strategic and long-range plans, programmatic paradigm shifts, enrollment challenges and community divides. I bring a wealth of practical, theoretical and consultant experience to the table; I am stickler for data and detail and will make an otherwise arduous task seem like a ton of fun.

Over the years I have worked closely with trustees, faculty, parents, students, alumni, admissions and development offices. I speak on a national level on topics such as social media, marketing, admissions training, crisis management, professional development and board training.

Gowan Group will assist you in crafting the precise story that properly reflects your school’s mission, values, heritage and ethos. Through a detailed and thorough demographic study, position report and marketing/communication audits, we will assist you in marketing that message to the right audience so your school can achieve its enrollment goals.

Let’s discuss why I decided to build Gowan Group. Those of us who are deeply entrenched in the lives of schools and colleges are currently seeing a paradigm shift in the admissions office. The schools that are interested in making a change in how they attract prospective students to fill vacancies are swiftly moving from the traditional admission procedure to strategic enrollment management. We will walk you down the critical path of enrollment management to fill your vacant seats and create school solvency and resilience against any economic downturn that may affect your enrollment. The answer lies in strategic enrollment management not traditional admissions practices.

How can substantive change happen? Don’t get caught in the age-old trap of refraining from employing new strategic practices because your admissions office is stuck in their routines and ruts.

Affecting positive school change demands a bifurcated approach by creating an inclusive community and supporting changes with pertinent data. A successful and inspirational school consultant uses a combined approach to illustrate both the story behind the change as well as the supportive, quantitative data. By using this combined approach, one is allowing different types of learners to engage and synthesize critical information by targeting both sides of their brain. The first approach appeals to the theorists or the storytellers, but the analytical in all of us appreciates data! The story you share is the lifeline of your school; it’s a story of the people. Further, research tells us that schools are becoming more data-driven because data provide a history of performance, trends and a road map to create attainable and realistic benchmarks. So, climb on board and partner with us. You can join your colleagues and competition by ramping up your enrollment management strategy.

As a former school leader of 23 years, my head of school instincts can kick in at any moment. Thinking like a school head and relying on decades of sound, practical experience working with all school constituents certainly gives our informed perspective an advantage over some of the other consultants with whom one could partner.

It would be our distinct honor to have the opportunity to consult with your school on strategic enrollment management and introduce myself and some of my experts on staff. I would be excited to help solidify your community by collaboratively embracing your school’s shared vision. I am intrigued with the prospect of becoming a passionate advocate on its behalf, and I am drawn to the possibilities of becoming its newest biggest fan. Let’s begin with an initial phone conversation to discuss both your short and long-term enrollment goals and I can tell you some more about Gowan Group’s strong entrance into the independent school consulting world.


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Great Interview with Dan Pink and His Answers to 7 Important Questions

Dan Pink shares his insight on sales and motivation in this video. He is rapidly becoming a tremendous influence on business strategy, specifically independent schools should benefit from this insight.

Pink speaks eloquently on the relationship between buyers and sellers, the ambivert and the human side of today’s sales techniques. Admissions offices across the globe will begin to benefit greatly from this “real life” human approach to sales.

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Navigating the Dangerous Waters the Internet Provides

I think I can say without hesitation and with complete confidence that we all want the best for our children. And that means we want them to be safe both physically and emotionally. While the topic of anonymity is not new, it has been taken to an entirely new level and parents should be prepared.

There is a new danger on the Internet. It seems like every week a new concept emerges and we are forced to think twice about how to properly safeguard our children. Formspring has definitely sprung and it is loaded for bear. It is a scary, vile vehicle that teens use to anonymously destroy their friends. Read this article and then come back to this blog and join the conversation. Rachel Simmons is the author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, a brilliant and sensitive book about raising girls with confidence. If you have not read it, please consider it.

I hope you can spend a few moments reading the article I linked above and learn more about Formspring. Below are a few thoughts to help you wrap your minds around the social lives our children are leading:

1) It is all too easy for children to attack one another socially in school. Why are we allowing it to become easier and now anonymously?

2) Every child enters school each day with the same great fear: embarrassment. Formspring ensures that each account owner will be embarrassed every day. I cannot think of anything worse for our children to endure each day. They have enough to worry about without the fear of being ridiculed anonymously by their peers.

3) Allowing children to send anonymous, hurtful messages condemns them to a world where they do not have to take responsibility for their own words. Through Formspring children can cowardly hide behind the computer screen and believe that their actions do not have consequences. As adults and educators, we know the opposite is true.

4) There have been too many teen suicides in the news recently to ignore it and believe that this is not a concern. As parents we need to educate our children about the damage that can be done by not choosing our words carefully or using them to hurt others.

Lastly, I love this quote regarding Formspring from the Simmons article above. “There is zero, and I mean zero, value in this website and no girl or boy should spend a minute on it. Formspring creates unnecessary emotional risks. It legitimizes cybercruelty and divorces kids from responsibility for their words. You can pretty much file Formspring along with wouldn’t-it-be-fun-to-stand-on the-railroad-tracks-and-jump-right-before-the-train-comes and I’m-sure-no-one-will-notice-if-I-just-pocket-this-one-mascara.”

Below is an informal video of Rachel Simmons informing us all of a few reasons why we should teach our children about the dangers of Formspring.

Posted in Formspring, Leadership, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments