Core Competencies

The Core Competencies consist of the knowledge, skills and dispositions that are necessary for all AACRAO professionals irrespective of their role at their institutions. Click any of the following links to access specific proficiencies related to admissions, records and academic services, or enrollment management.

To jump to a specific section, click any of the headers below. 




Change Management

Functional Description: Identify the need for implementing a change within the organization based on data analysis and environmental scans, define the scope of the change, and provide the leadership required to execute the change. Develop coalitions necessary for to guide and support the change. Communicate the need and urgency for change to the campus community and plan execute a communication plan to keep the campus community informed about the status of the change.

Content knowledge requirements:Understanding of general literature surrounding organizational change (e.g., Kotter’s Leading Change) and popular change management methodologies (e.g., Six Sigma or Agile). Understanding of project management skills and means of communication.

Skill requirements: Strong skills in data analysis, project management, communication, staff development, business process and policy analysis, and creativity required.

Ethical requirements: Conduct aligned with the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services. Ensure that campus codes of conduct and ethics are followed.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Understands the general steps (e.g., planning, developing support, budgeting, leading, communicating) of implementing change and has been a part of organizational change as part of an enrollment management organization. Involvement in managing change limited to transactional or operational processes.

Intermediate level: Demonstrated success in leading a change project within an enrollment management organization. Projects are generally limited to within the organization itself, and leadership is limited to leading the implementation team itself. Changes generally limited to transactional or operational processes.

Expert level: Demonstrated success in leading change across a university campus. Projects include service units and/or academic units beyond enrollment management organization. Leadership required beyond the implementation team to ensure support and success of the change. Success in anchoring the new change into the culture of the enrollment management unit and the campus. Incorporates the needs to change and/or develop policies for the campus. Leads transformational change that fundamentally alters the vision or mission of the enrollment management unit and/or campus.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Functional Description: Admissions, registrar, and enrollment management professionals value and foster an environment that ensures respect, support and safety for all members of their campus and professional communities, and actively promote the expansion of ideas, perspectives, and understanding that comes from a diverse and inclusive community.

Content knowledge requirements: Broad understanding of social justice, racial, ethnic, sexual and gender identity theories and their application within admissions, registrar, and enrollment management practices, structures, and objectives.

Skill requirements: Ability to identify systematic barriers to equality and inclusiveness and to purposefully advance enrollment management processes and systems to contribute to an inclusive campus climate.

Ethical requirements: Actively integrate diversity and inclusivity principles into all aspects of personal and professional practice.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Integrate cultural knowledge on specific diversity topics into enrollment-related programs and services, designing culturally relevant programs, services, policies and practices. Willingness to assess and one’s own skill set regarding equity and inclusivity and develop strategies to increase one’s understanding of other cultures.

Intermediate level: Building on basic skills, actively engage enrollment management staff in learning opportunities to facilitate growth and understanding of social justice concepts, as well as how to integrate these principles into their daily work. Use advocacy skills to contribute intentionally to the creation of an inclusive campus climate and profession.

Expert level: The principles of diversity and inclusion are integrated into all activities, including identification and elimination of barriers, resource allocation, strategic planning, attracting and hiring individuals of diverse backgrounds, and personal and professional leadership. Ensure enrollment management policies, practices, structures, resources, and technologies contribute to a diverse and inclusive climate and represent diverse abilities and beliefs. Serve as a leader on campus and across the profession in fostering a culture that supports a safe and open exchange of ideas, identifies instances of power and privilege, and actively works to address areas in which diversity is not fully supported.

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Collaborative Decision-Making and Consensus-Building

Functional Description: Ability to facilitate the processes needed to facilitate stakeholders involvement, through the stages of collective and effective solutions.

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding and knowledge of the collaborative and consensus building processes.

Skill requirements: Ability to work effectively with diverse groups.

Ethical requirements: Understand the process necessary to directionally move stakeholders towards consensus, while keeping the integrity of inclusiveness and diversity.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Understand the foundation of group dynamics, processes movement and consensus building as a participant.

Intermediate level: Identifies and facilitates group dynamics resulting in resolution and implementation of the identified goals.

Expert level: Employs high level of ability of inclusiveness, diversity and diplomacy with more challenging group dynamics within the context of divergent subject matter.

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Holistic and Systemic Thinking

Functional Description: Employs the ability to view the Institutional culture, holistically and systemically. Has a working knowledge and understanding of applications of systemic thinking principles the academic and service mission, goals and values.

Content knowledge requirements: Intimate knowledge of higher education and higher education cultures

Skill requirements: Ability to analyze and understand the interconnectedness of systems, cultures and processes.

Ethical requirements: Willingness to view higher education philosophies and principles from different vantage points.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Identifies interconnection of systems.

Intermediate level: Identifies the interconnectedness of systems and the relationship they have with one another. Can see institutional cultural implications.

Expert level: Helps lead institutional strategic and SEM plans and initiatives. Employs the understanding and interpretation of the interconnectedness of multiple systems, cultures and process and the implications on the institutional. Has the ability to identify and explain possible systemic change to the culture.

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Interpretation and Application of Institutional and External Data

Functional Description: Understanding of institutional and external data in the context of what impact the data has on the strategic enrollment goals of the institution. To be able to interpret and apply the data for the purposes of short term and long range planning and strategizing.

Content knowledge requirements: Higher education service and retention models and the significance of data in the application of those models.

Skill requirements: Ability to analyze and understand the interconnectedness of data in the context of the services to the institution’s strategic plan and contributing to fulfillment of the institutional mission.

Ethical requirements: Knowledge of principles of data integrity.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Understanding of institutional and external data and understanding data-driven principles related to the institution’s strategic plan, mission and values.

Intermediate level: Working knowledge of institution and external data and the understanding of its implications to the Institution’s strategic, enrollment and retention plans.

Expert level: Ability to interpret and apply the data to help the institutional strategic plan, plus the institution’s strategic initiatives become operational and maintained.

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Leadership and Management

Functional Description: Ability to identify the functions and business processes necessary to operate an office, develop an operating budget, and build a professional staff to conduct the activities of the office. Ability to identify utilization and operationalize customer and student services best practices.

Content knowledge requirements: Budget development, understanding of the core business processes of the unit, personnel management and development.

Skill requirements: Strong quantitative skills, management, leadership, and communications.

Ethical requirements: Understanding and practice of professionalism, integrity and best practices in the areas of management and personnel.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Understands the basic operations of an office unit and is capable of assuming the leadership of a functioning office and continue the activities of the office.

Intermediate level: Identifies best practices of the profession and develops plans and strategies to improve existing business processes.

Expert level: Understands the full range of emerging technology of the profession and incorporates strategies and solutions that meet the needs and goals of the office and institution. Is viewed as a subject matter expert in the profession and shares his/ her expertise regularly with others in the profession.

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Problem Solving

Functional Description: Employs an analytical and creative approach to address problems, while drawing on individual & collective skills, knowledge & experience.

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding and knowledge of foundational theory and practices of problem solving.

Skill requirements: Understands various problem-solving techniques.

Ethical requirements: Ability to weight and implement the problem solving strategies equitably.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Identifies the problem and considers potential solutions.

Intermediate level: Identifies the problem and considers potential solutions. Employs multiple problem-solving strategies. Seeks assistance as necessary.

Expert level: Employs multiple problem-solving strategies. Identifies possible explanations and alternatives, identifies the information necessary to solve a problem, anticipates obstacles, and develops contingency plans. Undertakes a complex task by breaking it down into manageable parts in a systematic, detailed way. Presents problem analysis and recommended solutions, rather than just identifying or describing the problem itself. Seeks assistance as necessary.

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Professional Integrity

Functional Description: Ability to carry out professional activities in an honest, professional and ethical manner. To engender a climate of trust and fairness in all dealings with students and colleagues within and outside the institution.

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding of AACRAO’s Statement of Ethics and Practice, applicable state and federal laws, and institutional policies governing responsibilities within the institution.

Skill requirements: Ability to identify a decision-making construct or process to guide ethical decisions; ability to balance institutional policy, practices and resources with appropriate and fact- and data-driven decisions; willingness to recognize how personal values and beliefs may influence a decision and check those decisions with colleagues and peers when appropriate.

Ethical requirements: Ability to recognize the conflict between personal interests, values, and beliefs and professional responsibilities. Commitment to being truthful when sharing information and advice with staff, peers, and colleagues, both within and external to the institution.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Has a basic understanding of institutional policies, procedures, and resources; state and federal law; and professional standards. Knows how to locate and use available resources to find answers. Willingness to seek out and rely on the expertise of others both to improve decision-making and as a means of expanding expertise.

Intermediate level: Comfortable answering questions and serving as a resource to others concerning institutional policy and government regulations. Recognizes when to seek the advice and guidance of others. In work with legal counsel, is able to summarize relevant facts and discuss the legal and ethical issues involved in developing a response.

Expert level: Possess a thorough understanding of institutional policies and procedures, state and federal laws, and professional standards as they relate to one’s own institution or state, as well as to other institutions and states. Ability to differentiate between what is legal and illegal and between what is ethical and unethical. Serve as an expert and resource for students and colleagues.

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Strong Interpersonal Abilities

Functional Description: The set of abilities enabling a person to interact positively and work effectively with others. Development of the interpersonal skills of employees is a key goal of training and development initiatives for many companies, and is considered a constructive manner in which to handle office disputes and other personnel issues. These skills include the areas of communication, listening, delegation of tasks, and leadership.

Content knowledge requirements: Verbal and non-verbal communication, listening skills, ability to draw information from others, business etiquette, negotiation and consensus-building, problem-solving, decision-making, social awareness, self-management, and assertiveness.

Skill requirements: Knowledge of appropriate business etiquette, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, situational awareness.

Ethical requirements: Responsibility for using strong interpersonal skills to achieve mutually agreed upon goals rather than for self-advancement at the expense of institutional goals.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Ability to communicate and interact with others individually and in groups. Work well as part of a team and communicate effectively with a variety of constituents. Awareness of how one interacts with others. Includes verbal and non-verbal communication skills and listening skills.

Intermediate level: Ability to work with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome. Explore and analyze options to make sound decisions. Communicate ideas, beliefs, and opinions freely and appropriately. Ask questions and seek clarification. Understand that others may have different points of view.

Expert level: Ability to negotiate, persuade, and give and receive feedback effectively. Recognize verbal and non-verbal cues that the receiver feels uncomfortable with the message and address appropriately. Recognize and adapt to the emotional climate and expectations of the participant(s) for the interaction. Influence the attitudes and behaviors of others.

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Technological Knowledge

Functional Description: The ability to possess the appropriate technological knowledge and skills to function as a successful Enrollment Services professional.

Content knowledge requirements: Possesses functional and technical knowledge to complete Enrollment Services responsibilities at a high level of accomplishment.

Skill requirements: Possesses technical skills commensurate with level of responsibility.

Ethical requirements: Conduct aligned to the established AACRAO principles of professional ethics and practice in academic and enrollment services.

Expertise Levels

Entry level: Chooses appropriate technology tools for tasks. Demonstrates functional experience with Microsoft office or similar productivity software. Capable and willing to share technical skills and knowledge with others.

Intermediate level: Knowledgeable of technical application for Enrollment Services processes. Improves or redesigns processes using technical solutions to maintain efficiency. Consistently shares ideas and knowledge with others, teaching skills and explaining concepts.

Expert level: Demonstrates an avid interest in continuously enhancing technical skills and learning new ones; applies advanced technical knowledge and innovation to Enrollment Service processes and complex functional problem solving. Selects optimum technology tools for the design or redesign of core processes.

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