Last week, marketing guru Seth Godin published a blog entitled “The Awareness Threshold”. He discussed the seven step process through which people move from being unaware of an idea to awareness, to categorizing the idea based on our life experience, to forming an opinion, to experiencing the idea, to forming of a new opinion, and eventually to sharing that new opinion with others. This intellectual journey occurs daily as we learn about world events, political happenings, and new technological discoveries.
Thousands of families are engaging on this journey as they search for the right independent school for their child. Proctor’s Admissions Office has welcomed more campus visitors through its doors over the past four months than any year prior (40% more in fact). As families arrive on campus for interviews and student guided tours, they have have navigated the first three stages of Godin’s awareness threshold and have formed an opinion of Proctor based on electronic communication, browsing our website, and personal connections to our school community.
The decision to experience Proctor through a campus admissions visit is a powerful, and courageous, step for families who have already identified the benefits of an independent school education. Families are hungry to see what Proctor is all about up close and personal. Our hope through a campus visit is their preconceived notions of Proctor are simultaneously challenged and reaffirmed.
Ours is an educational model that encourages our students to remain agile in their perceptions of self, while never compromising their core beliefs. Whether it is trying a new art class, wrestling with a new perspective in class, going out for a sport they’ve never played before, spending a term off-campus, or spending a weekend night in the Proctor Cabin with friends, stretching our existing definitions of who we are is core to our community identity. When students reach the final stage of the awareness threshold, they share their new opinions with others, and through this consistent sharing a school culture rooted in healthy risk-taking and comfort-zone stretching forms over time. (It is not by chance that well over 70% of Proctor students spend a term off-campus!)
Just as we encourage each of our current students to experience the ‘whole’ of Proctor, we love when visiting families spend time on campus and see Proctor for all it has to offer, not just the specific off-campus program, art offering, academic support tutorial, or athletic team that initially made them aware of Proctor’s existence. Afterall, no single program will define a Proctor student's experience.
Proctor’s vibrancy correlates directly with our willingness to keep an open mind, embrace new ideas, appreciate differences, experience those differences, and reconstruct our worldview accordingly. This journey from awareness to opinion to experiences to new opinions to sharing those opinions is not only the path our prospective families take as they weigh different independent school options, it is a journey on which we all must remain daily.