Case Studies · 6 minute read

Greenhills School drives higher conversion with a streamlined enrollment process that increases family touchpoints

Discover how Kira’s custom on-demand assessment is helping Greenhills School re-invest faculty time on creating touchpoints with families and driving higher application conversion.


Scaling enrollment interviews with a small admissions team while increasing touchpoints with applicants and their families.

Key outcomes

Reduced the time commitment for faculty by 45% while achieving an application conversion rate of 84%.

Favourite features

  • Horizontal Review
  • Customizable in-platform rubrics
  • Recorded video and written responses

An independent school for grades 6 through 12 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Greenhills School is considered a newcomer in the local private education space. Founded in 1968, Greenhills doesn’t have the history of many of its neighbouring schools, but what it does have is a reputation for highly engaging and nurturing classroom dynamics.

“We pride ourselves on small classroom sizes which allows our faculty to really get to know our students,” shared Greenhills’ Director of Enrollment Management, Sylvester Cutler. “We see every child as one-of-kind and we really focus on identifying their individual talents and nurturing those to their full potential.” 

“You can have great programming and state-of-the-art facilities, but at the end of the day the dynamic between the students and the teachers makes all the difference,” he continued. “We look at that relationship as being essential to the overall success of our school, so we make sure that we're putting the best educators in the classroom. Then we ensure that we're finding students who are going to be successful in that environment.”

For Greenhills School, Kira Talent plays a critical role in identifying those students from their growing pool of applicants. 

Getting the most value from faculty time 

“In 2021 we saw an acceleration of interest in our school,” shared Cutler. “My admissions colleagues are also teachers, so they spend 50% of their time in the classroom. That was fine when we had a lower volume of applicants, but when we reached 140 applicants for sixth grade alone, we were constantly scrambling to stay on top of our work.”

“Prior to Kira, we brought applicants to campus for both an in-person interview and proctored work sample with a member of our staff or faculty,” he explained. “Whoever was available to administer those assessments would take notes and write a summary to include in the respective applications. Each completed application was then reviewed by at least two faculty members.” 

“Faculty were dedicating more than 20 hours each simply to review applications,” Cutler shared. “And even with that time commitment, they were only reviewing around 60 applicants, and actually meeting even fewer.”

“It wasn’t a good use of faculty time,” he continued. “We wanted to find a way to keep faculty involved in our admissions process but ensure that we were getting the most value out of their time.”

In 2022, Greenhills transitioned their admissions interview to a custom Kira Asynchronous Assessment, helping them streamline their reviewing process while aligning with their school values and admissions goals. 

“With Kira, we’ve been able to reduce the time commitment for faculty by nearly 45% even while having them review every applicant.”

“On top of that, they feel they’re getting a better understanding of applicants’ personalities because they get to see each applicant first-hand,” Cutler continued.

“Kira’s competency-based structure has allowed us to divide the application review amongst the faculty, reducing the reviewing time to approximately five minutes per application and enabling each faculty member to see every applicant,” Cutler added. “ They’re able to easily work the review into their day because instead of having to block out large chunks of time to participate in the reviewing process, they’re able to take a few minutes between classes or during a free period to watch a two-minute video or read a short written response.”

“That’s saving each faculty member around 10 hours of work each admissions cycle.”

Nurturing applicants and their families for a higher yield

“We reinvest the time that Kira saves us in how we engage with our applicants and their families,” shared Cutler. “We’re very responsive to families and work to create a lot of touchpoints with them throughout the enrollment process.”

“There’s a common misconception that hosting interviews on campus is the only way to build connections with applicants and their families,” Cutler explained. “In reality, when we conducted in-person interviews we would have eight applicants and their families visiting that day. That meant there were eight work samples that needed to be proctored and eight interviews to be conducted. I had a team of four, two of whom were also teaching half of the day, so we really had very little time to engage the applicants and their families outside of the assessment rooms.” 

“Delivering the assessment online with Kira means that when we have families come visit our campus, we’re able to spend that time solely on building relationships with them.”

“There’s a much better atmosphere on campus for our visit days,” Cutler explained. “Families are here to explore campus, get a sense of our school community, and get to know our staff and faculty. With Kira, those activities aren’t overshadowed by the stress of their assessment.”

“Likewise, our staff and faculty aren’t preoccupied with conducting assessments and are able to be present and engaged during the visits,” he continued. “As a result, we achieved a much higher conversion rate in completed applications this year.”

“In 2022, we increased our conversion rate by 28%, to reach an application completion rate of 84%.”

“A significant factor in achieving that conversion is the time we dedicate to connecting with families and guiding them through the process,” he added. "With Kira, we’ve been able to reinvest the time saved into an expanded touchpoint strategy. We now have the time to engage with families throughout their application process; checking in to see how they're doing, sending them information, and making sure that we’re proactively addressing any questions or concerns they may have.”

“These are touchpoints that we always wanted to have, but unless we worked 20 hours a day it just wasn't feasible.”

Building a bespoke assessment

Kira’s fully customizable assessment helped Greenhills School easily replicate the key components of their original assessment and interview while providing them with new opportunities to enhance the equity and effectiveness of the overall experience.

“The onboarding experience with Kira was really incredible,” Cutler shared. “We started by talking about our school mission and values, what makes Greenhills unique, and what traits and skills make for a successful Greenhills student. Kira then took everything we had shared and distilled those larger concepts and values into unique and creative questions for our applicants.”

“We decided to use a combination of timed video and timed written responses in Kira to recreate both our interview and work sample evaluation within one assessment experience,” Cutler explained. 

“The platform gives us the flexibility to easily assess for different skills and competencies while maintaining a structure and consistency to the assessment across all applicants.”

Using Kira’s Horizontal Review, Greenhills assigns faculty members to review specific responses across all applicants.

“For example, we have math teachers scoring the quantitative math problems and English teachers evaluating the written communication responses for every applicant,” explained Cutler. “It allows us to be more accurate, fair, and consistent in how we evaluate applicants.”

Mitigating bias for fair admissions

“Kira also offers bias mitigation training as part of the onboarding process,” added Cutler. “It was a great exercise for our staff and faculty to go through, and gave them better insight into the benefits of our new process and why we chose to structure things in certain ways.”

“Prior to Kira, for example, I might have interviewed three different applicants during one campus visit,” he explained. “When I sat down to write my review at the end of the day, it could be difficult to remember all the details from the interview I had that morning.”

“Kira has eliminated that concern,” Cutler continued. “Reviewers are scoring applicants as they’re watching their responses, and they can replay the video as many times as they need to.”

“Having the recordings on demand also means that we’re not relying on one reviewer's summary of the conversation to make our admissions decisions,” shared Cutler. “If we’re discussing a particular applicant in the admissions committee meeting, we can just pull up their Kira assessment and watch their responses.”

“The admissions committee gets to hear from the applicants directly rather than seeing them through the filter of the person who interviewed them.”

“Kira has helped us structure our admissions process to align with our mission of identifying and nurturing what makes every student unique,” Cutler added. “From the start, we tell our applicants that the application process is an opportunity to show us their personality, and thanks to Kira we all get to see it.”

The ripple effect of a flexible assessment

The feedback from our faculty has been overwhelmingly positive,” Cutler shared. “Within three weeks, even those who were initially hesitant came back and shared how much more they like the process with Kira.”

“Our success has even inspired our language department to rethink how they do the language placement, transitioning the oral assessment from in-person or Zoom to an Asynchronous Assessment in Kira,” he added. 

“That kind of feedback is really the icing on the cake because it solidifies that Kira doesn’t just save us time, it’s making our overall admissions process more effective.” 

“It's really a great tool,” Cutler continued. “I'm happy to talk to anyone that would be interested in hearing about our experiences because they've been so positive.”

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