“Take care of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves”
-Peter Wickman, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at The Perkiomen School
Being new to Admissions and The Perkiomen School, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make a noticeable contribution to the school. I think it’s common to want to take control of a big project, stamp your name on something important, and call it your own right away. When I was teaching I had my classes, which were a big responsibility. Classes give you instant fame (or infamy), and you can see the product of your hard work quite quickly. Students immediately start talking about the new teacher – how he’s doing, what they like, what they don’t, etc. However, in the admissions office it can take a little longer to see the fruits of your labor.
When I started in July I was lucky enough to head down to the AISAP conference in Nashville, and one of the best take-aways I went home with was to set goals and communicate them to my director. So, I did, and my goals were simple. I wanted to communicate efficiently and directly with my colleagues, become self sufficient so I wouldn’t have to constantly ask questions, and make a positive impression on all members of the school community. It’s tempting to make a goal like, “find a new booming market of full pay students that meet all our admissions requirements” or “solve the sustainability issue with the rate of annual tuition increases compared to market inflation.” Those are HUGE goals that you should be thinking about because, who knows, you might just have the answer, but they are for the whole institution much more than the “newbie.”
I know my goals are attainable, and I know what I have to do to complete them. They are relatively small when I think about all the institutional decisions that are made at a school. I’ll worry about the big stuff later, though – when I’m not a newbie anymore. While I am still a newb, putting a little extra attention into the details has really made a difference in my first few months. Spending a few extra minutes re–reading an email before I send it out to make sure I’m getting my point across in an appropriate fashion or maybe adding a funny joke or graphic if I’m emailing with students has truly helped me make a name for myself. Instead of just standing at the front of the student body and delivering a dry instructional announcement at morning meeting I’ll try to make some sort of skit to catch the students’ attention. Even just making sure I pick up a piece of litter on our campus rather than walking by it is something that I think about daily to make sure I’m having a positive impact here at Perk.
If you think no one notices the small things, you’re wrong. Take care of them, put in some extra thought, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself getting noticed in all the right ways. The big projects will come, I’m sure, and if you take care of the little things now, the big things will take care of themselves later.