Tapping into Idealism about Education: Enrollment’s Amy Greenstein
Ten years ago, when Amy Greenstein left a position at Columbia University’s School of Nursing to become Director of Admissions at Long Island University Global College (LIU Global), her motivations had more to do with career advancement than with her new employer.
“I was thinking, here’s an opportunity to manage the admissions process and add to my skillset,” says Greenstein, who became Teachers College’s Executive Director of Enrollment Services this past November. “But it turned out to be a huge turning point for me – my entryway into progressive education. At LIU Global, I found that these were the types of students I wanted to be around, because they were really driven by a passion for learning.”
Students come to TC for the same reason – and Greenstein has made tapping their passion and idealism the focal point of her efforts both to capitalize on the College’s enrollment strengths and to address challenges in other areas.
Chief among the latter – no secret, as education schools are grappling with it nationwide – is the climate around education in general and K-12 teaching in particular.
“TC is an institution that thrives on social justice and equity. That’s why people come here, and we have 90,000 alumni out there reaffirming that reputation every single day.” — Amy Greenstein
“Applications and enrollments for teaching students have been dwindling for the past five years nationally because of the growing pressures on teachers – accountability, high stakes testing, and the Common Core and the sense that it curtails the ability of teachers to reach children as they want to and employ best practices they learned in teacher preparation,” Greenstein says. “Teaching has never been an easy profession, but it’s gotten harder, especially when you look at how much we ask of teachers – often including purchasing supplies with money from their own pockets.”
To change that picture, Greenstein says, “our government, and the public in general, has to get excited in a bigger way about the huge difference education makes in the world instead of viewing it as an afterthought.”
Fortunately, teaching is a calling that has always drawn “caring people who give so much of themselves,” Greenstein says – and one key, from an admissions point of view, is to expose those kinds of prospective applicants to “real-life stories of TC students and alumni who are making a difference.”
“TC is an institution that thrives on social justice and equity,” Greenstein says. “That’s why people come here, and we have 90,000 alumni out there reaffirming that reputation every single day.”
Greenstein has also focused on more forthrightly addressing applicants’ financial concerns.
“We’re engaging applicants at different stages of the admissions process so that we can influence behaviors on the back end that have an impact on our yield rate,” she says. “We’ve identified programs where are our numbers are down, and we’ve introduced accepted students to their financial aid liaison right up front, the day the aid packages first go out. Sometimes we find that we can clarify information for applicants who haven’t fully understood the information. Sometimes we are able to modify packages for applicants to help them achieve their educational goals. We’re also introducing applicants to what TC offers as a whole. There are so many paths you can end up taking here, with so many possibilities for working in different fields. It’s not unusual for a prospective student to think we offer only teacher preparation programs, and we’re making an effort to change that perception.”
“There are so many paths you can end up taking here, with so many possibilities for working in different fields. It’s not unusual for a prospective student to think we offer only teacher preparation programs, and we’re making an effort to change that perception.” — Amy Greenstein
Preservice teaching programs account for about 30 percent of TC’s enrollment. Other programs – for example in psychology and speech pathology – are in high demand. Newer programs in fields such as learning analytics and dance education hold great promise. And TC is stepping up its offerings online.
“Not all students learn best in a traditional classroom, and not all have the ability to come to our campus. We need to consider meeting student demands for different learning modalities and staying relevant in contemporary education while preserving the richness and quality of a TC degree,” Greenstein says.
Ultimately the proof is in the numbers – a challenge that Greenstein is accustomed to and plans to meet head on: “Education goes through cycles, just like any other field, but Teachers College has been setting the pace in education since our beginnings. I’m confident we’re going to continue doing that for many, many years to come.” – Joe Levine
Published Monday, Jul 3, 2017