I’ve enjoyed reading Brian’s work at AQ for years now and really appreciate him taking the time to enjoy a Cup of Coffee with me.
1. What was the motivation for writing your most current eBook: “Private School Rankings – They’re Misguided?”
We receive a steady stream of comments and questions asking “what’s the best school” or, more aggressively asked, “tell me four schools that my kid should attend if we want her to get into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton?”
These types of questions are usually coupled to the unhealthy, never ending, discussion about ‘what’s the best school’ and its partner in crime creating some sort rank order.
When a family asks me about the best school, I always answer ‘it depends-‘ on who your student is and on what he needs in order to grow the furthest. The best school is the school that best fits who your student is on opening day and can then grow him the furthest during his time at the school.
There are great schools that take high achieving, high scoring, multi-talented students and grow them even further. But that’s not every student; realistically, it’s a few. And, it’s also not every private school.
One of America’s strengths is the simple vastness of our education offerings. We have schools and colleges to fit all types of students.
2. How has the reaction been to this particular eBook? Positive? Negative?
The reaction has been very positive. Colleagues and families appreciate the healthy discussion. We’ve never heard a negative comment.
3. AdmissionsQuest.com has produced a number of eBooks in the past year. Why did you decide to go in this direction?
eBooks present the opportunity to educate, inform a discussion, and, in our case, help families considering private school get an understanding of/get started on the process. Families referring to our eBooks can learn about, and get a handle on, private school admission and financial aid before they ever call a school.
Our goal is always the best school-student fit and good work between prospective family and school. We arm families with enough good, realistic information so that they speak confidently with admission offices.
4. How long does it typically take you to create an eBook?
It depends…There’s that answer again.
The rankings eBook came together very quickly because we’re continually engaged in the discussion and we know the topic well. The rankings eBook is essentially an amalgamation of my reply notes to questions and some of our AdmissionsQuest articles.
I can’t pin an exact time on how long the larger books take but I’ll touch on some of the variables. How involved are we in the topic? How much we’ve written about it previously? Writing alone or writing with others?
If we know the topic, things move faster. If we’ve got a library on the topic, that speeds the process. If I’m working alone, that lets things move faster.
Research and collaboration require the most time.
5. Can you explain your eBook creation process?
We always begin with a question, or issue, coming from either families or admission colleagues. Then, we ask would filing this void/publishing a piece on this help schools and families? Followed by, do we have the expertise, or, can one of our friends/colleagues help us or work with us?
If an eBook can contribute and we have the expertise, we write it.
And, I have to throw in, just like our school colleagues, we ask do we have time right now?
Like everything in schools, how do you demonstrate that something is important? You assign it time and resources. If a school wants to publish an eBook on a particular topic, then time and resources will have to go toward it. But, as any of us who’ve lived and worked in schools knows, finding time and resources to dedicate toward projects is always challenging.
Our schools work so well because faculty focus so tightly on the day-to-day lives of our students. But, the flip side of that day-to-day focus is that it’s hard to find time, and support, for new projects.
7. If you knew then what you know now – what advice can you share for schools just starting out with eBooks?
Begin by addressing focused questions/situations. You’re not out to solve a major world issue. You’re writing to inform/answer a constituency question. Speak to a constituency. Answer a question. Cover a concern. Be helpful.
8. Can you share one ‘secret’ which has helped your Twitter feed?
Balance. We didn’t understand it when we started. For us, Twitter is about sharing- not blowing our own horn.
Early on, we showcased our content and missed the mark on highlighting other stories in the K-12 private school world. We wondered why so few people were re-tweeting/sharing our posts. It didn’t take long, though, to catch the mistake.
We shifted our approach to a pretty even split of sharing AQ & non-AQ material. The results have been terrific- more conversations, a significant increase in folks clicking on our links, and a steady stream of followers.
9. You have written more that a thousand blog posts for AdmissionsQuest.com. How is writing an eBook different that writing a blog post?
Blog posts are bits and bytes- sometimes with an op-ed angle. The blog posts (mine at least) tend to be impressionistic and short. They can end with a question. They’re often undergirded by thoughts like “hey, this is interesting;” “did you see this?”
As references/guides the ebooks require planning, research, and formality. When you’re trying to help families enter and understand a process/provide guidance and advice, you don’t get to end the work with a question.
10. Can you give us a preview of your next eBook?
Great question. Any suggestions on what families might like to read?
Thank you Brian for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. I encourage you to connect with Brian at AdmissionsQuest.com and download his latest eBook: Private School Ranking: They’re Misguided.
If you do have a suggestion for Brian’s next eBook please post your idea in the comments section below.