Why Keeping Virtual Admissions Post-Pandemic is Essential to Growth
Virtual admissions was and is a key component of the pivot to COVID-friendly policies and procedures for private K-12 schools. With many schools completely closed to students and outside visitors, virtual admissions strategies offered a unique way to continue driving inquiries and applications.
But as schools continue to open and school visitor practices return to normalcy, are those virtual open houses, tours, and admissions practices still relevant? The answer is yes – as long as you follow a few ground rules.
Virtual admissions is just admissions
The biggest issues with pre-COVID admissions pages were related to processes. Schools made the process of admissions look too complex, too overwhelming, and too difficult to navigate.
Over the past year, the pandemic and virtual admissions necessitated a shift to more streamlined thinking. What are the quickest, easiest ways to allow families to learn about our school and get them to apply? That’s the mindset we should we take with us going forward. Moving parents through the admissions process should be a fun and exploratory experience for them, not an inconvenience.
Virtual admissions: what to keep and why you should keep it
Downloadable information packets. Virtual or recorded tours. Virtual on-campus visits. Live streaming open houses. Admissions processes distilled to a handful of steps. Why is it important to keep these things?
- Convenience is key – Working parents value convenience more than ever. A 9 a.m. in-person open house becomes a lot less attractive if a competing school has a more flexible online option. Creating choices to fit all schedules will open your doors to more families in your community.
- Low-pressure research is preferable – Millennials prefer to do their research in low-pressure sales environments. Hence the growth of online car sales, crowd-sourced buying decisions, and significant online research before making a purchase. The same goes for education decisions. The act of stepping into a physical school represents a commitment to that institution that the family may not be ready to make yet. But, watching short “open house-style” videos on their phone that show 30-second snippets of your classroom experience, campus culture, and academic offerings are a way to give families a soft introduction that leads to the next step.
- Embrace technology from the classroom to the front office – For schools that profess to be technology forward, it’s important to show that from the first interaction onward. Allow parents to get a feel for the school digitally (you can create online tours with Google Tour Creator), text questions rather than call, and complete the application and enrollment process online too.
- Connect with the school community in new ways – One of the differentiators in private K-12 education is the culture of the school community and the ability to bond and connect with families, faculty, and staff. Tools like PeerPal allow prospective parents and students to connect with parent and student ambassadors on their schedule. Modern interactions like this are less anxiety-inducing for students than the typical “shadow days” and give out-of-town families the ability to connect with your school even if they aren’t located in your immediate area.
As you close out this school year and move to the next, I encourage you to learn about mastering the art of early enrollment/re-enrollment and the partnership between enrollment and leadership. These topics are essential to complementing your virtual admissions processes and will help round out your enrollment management strategies going into the 2021-2022 school year. As always, feel free to reach out to me with your experiences, questions, and success stories at [email protected].