The gateway program (Puerta al Futuro) at Fairleigh Dickinson University involves an admission process that must be improved dramatically. It is evident that the administrator of that admissions program needs to undergo drastic changes in management style and effectiveness in order to make the appropriate adjustments. With the help of my group, I have helped to come up with several methods by which the administrator can change his or her actions to streamline and improve this admission process. This essay helps to delineate the problems found, the principles the administration should follow, and my own experiences working with this particular group.
PROBLEMS WITH ADMISSION PROCESS
The primary issues with the Fairleigh Dickinson program all lead up to an overall weak program that absolutely requires direct improvement and intervention in order to simplify and streamline the process for all involved. In order to do so, the problems with the admission process must be first identified. In the admission process, an application is often ferried around from person to person, as many in the admissions department do not have or hold to their assigned positions. It is more of a messily collaborative effort, one wherein not much gets done because everyone, including the administrator, passes the buck to someone else in the hopes that it gets done. It is very disorganized in that way.
The biggest problem with the gateway program is that it does not follow the same process that the Adult Learner Admission Process entails for the primary university. In that process, it goes from step to step – application, committee, admission, etc. With the gateway program, however, there is no process to speak of; steps in this process occur without any sort of real order. There is no enrollment process that is organized and streamlined, with particular individuals being in charge of specific roles. Nothing operates with any semblance of common sense, making attempting to successfully apply for the gateway program an incredible hassle and one which is very difficult to accomplish. No rigid (or even loose) structure is provided for the gateway program admissions process, and this must change.
HOW TO IMPROVE
The best way to accomplish what is required of this project, and how to make a better application process for the program, is to exercise collaborative leadership. The people put in charge of this admissions process must be able to exercise great patience and humility; they must recognize that their system is not working, and strive to overcome it. According to Bennis and Thomas, leadership “is an individual’s ability to find meaning in negative events and to learn from even the most trying circumstances” (p. 97). Therefore, the leaders of this admission process must learn from their mistakes. This is known as a leadership crucible, and it can be incredible effective in getting an existing manager to change his or her policies. If the individual in charge of the admissions program for the gateway at this university can undergo this change, it is incredibly easy to see how the system can be improved without a change in administration.
Participative management must also take place, as subordinates may have better ideas about how to manage this admissions process than the administrator (Bennis and Thomas, p. 98). What’s more, the administrator must exercise Level 5 Leadership, wherein they must carry a strong will while also remaining humble and open to new ideas (Collins, p. 115). While most believe that bombastic, overbearing leadership is the way to go, a truly effective administrator listens to his people and does not badger them; with that in mind, Level 5 executive behaviors need to be put in place.
The administrator of the gateway program must also be a strategist; as the gateway admissions process needs overhauling, a leader must be able to make these changes that are necessary (Brooke and Torbert, p. 144). Diligence and vigilance must be exercised in great amounts, as a complete overhaul of the organization of the process must be examined from both the short and long-term perspectives. The administrator must engage with his subordinates in order to gain their expertise and advice; this collaborative leadership can then lead to positive changes in the long run.
Once the administrator learns how to become a better leader, they can then restructure the admissions department to follow a model that is more similar to the main university’s admissions programs. Specific responsibilities can be doled out and held accountable to certain people, and so admissions will actually get accomplished in some sort of reasonable order.
EXPERIENCE WITH OTHERS ON PROJECT
During the course of this appraisal of the FDU Gateway Program admissions process, I had the help of a fantastic team who was easy to collaborate with. Few if any problems arose, and I most certainly found in myself the ability to lead them through this project in a collaborative and unique way. At the beginning of the process, there were a couple of teammembers who would attempt to throw their weight around, as it was not yet established who was leading the project. However, I was able to step forward and help organize everyone’s ideas into a consensus.
In terms of the people outside the group, I found them to be also helpful, if vague and slightly confrontational at first. Interviewing the personnel who were in charge of the admissions process, it was clear they did not want to admit that things were as bad as they are, but most of them eventually did so. I was able to exercise tact and diplomacy to get unpleasant but honest answers out of those I interviewed and questioned without them taking it personally. With the help of that leadership skill, I and my group managed to find plenty of quality information on the problems found rampant within the admissions department of the gateway program.
In conclusion, effective collaborative leadership strategies are the key to reinvigorating and adjusting the admissions process of the gateway program at FDU. A combination of worker apathy and poor leadership has led to a nonsensical process wherein one hand does not know what the other is doing. With the help of a change in administration from individualist to strategist, the administration can then take steps to delineate specific roles to people and create a common sense-based admissions process, thereby benefiting both the department and potential applicants.
Bennis, Warren and Robert Thomas. “Crucibles of Leadership.” On Leadership, 1990. Pp. 97-
Collins, Jim. “Level 5 Leadership: the Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.” On
Leadership, 1990. Pp. 115-119.
Rooke, David and William Torbert. “Seven Transformations of Leadership.” On Leadership,
1990. Pp. 137-145.