Scott Barron, M.Ed and School Growth founder, said, “Schools need a little less art, and a lot more science” — but he’s not referring to the classroom. “Schools need to apply science to their enrollment strategies, developing a more intentional, data-driven approach.”
Scott and Tammy Barron unpacked these intentional enrollment methods during the on-demand webinar “What is an Enrollment Growth Plan.” The webinar was part of the FACTS School Marketing & Strategic Growth Summer 2020 Series.
We’ve assembled five great tips from the webinar, and encourage you to watch the entire presentation for in-depth enrollment strategies.
1) Set your branding straight
Enrollment numbers are a vital sign of school health — like taking your temperature. But this number is only an indicator of overall well-being, and an Enrollment Growth Plan is not the cure-all. First, your school leadership must be united on foundational elements such as your school mission, target market, story, and the value proposition you offer to families. However, these can change as you discover what matters most to your target families.
- Mission: This is why you exist. Ensure everyone in school leadership is mission-passionate, not just mission-tolerant.
- Target market: Begin with understanding your target families’ wants and pivot your school branding to match that. Use data from current family demographics and surveys to understand who your school is really serving and why those families chose your school.
- Story: Your school’s story is not just a history of how you came to be. Create a narrative with your students and families as the hero. Your website, admissions emails, and tours should reflect this.
- Value proposition: Schools used to sell curriculum and location. Now they’re selling culture —person-to-person and classroom-to-classroom experiences. Find out what experiences parents value most at your school and promote it.
2) Discover your school’s unique advantage
Newly enrolled families just finished comparing your school against the competition. Perform a new family survey to find out why they chose you. Listen for common themes you hear from families and adjust your marketing messages and school initiatives to match. You can get started right now with this free family survey from School Growth.
3) Take responsibility for retention
Enrollment may be the enrollment office’s duty, but retention is the job of everyone at the school. It’s a reflection of parent satisfaction with the value you deliver. Here are a few ways to encourage retention ownership:
- Break down your school’s retention numbers by grade.
- Show teachers their class retention rate yearly to take ownership.
- Perform exit interviews with families to know why they left.
4) Be careful with financial aid
Enrollment is not primarily about increasing the volume of students; it’s increasing the level of net revenue per student. Know your financial limits so you can be prudent in giving financial aid. Generosity is admirable, but going too far can endanger your school’s future.
5) Optimize your family onboarding process
Making a new family feel connected and part of a community is difficult. Doing that from behind a computer screen — unheard of. Yet, onboarding is a pivotal time when families form an impression of your school. Consider these factors in your onboarding process:
- Onboard families quickly.
- Make them feel part of a team; personalize as much as possible.
- Ensure administration has the same “customer service” mindset as the admissions office.
- Equip families to be ambassadors. Send them a packet with materials to promote or a graphic to share on social media.
Enrollment has always been important. In this unusual season, it’s now a matter of survival. No matter your school’s size or enrollment situation for the upcoming year, you can focus on improving what’s in your control. For a more in-depth look at the science behind enrollment strategy, view our full webinar list in the FACTS School Marketing & Strategic Growth Summer Series.