It likely comes as no surprise that COVID-19 affected both enrollment and schools’ admission pools. In fact, according to a survey done by Ravenna, K-12 schools overall had a higher number of applicants, yet fewer students chose to enroll.
It is hard to make continued big gains immediately following recent, exponential growth. However, that is the challenge schools nationwide are facing right now. How do you increase applications for your school, even more, to ensure your enrollment numbers have stability and maybe even steady growth, too?
1. Parent to Parent
What is the number one thing Millennials (born c. 1981-1996) are interested in when it comes to interacting with a brand? Authencity. And, other generations agree. After true friends and family, people turn to peers for trusted suggestions.
Consider connecting current parents to prospective parents. Hopefully, you have an admissions and enrollment system that tracks historical data, so you can best match families together. Focus on pairing up those from the same feeder school or zip code. Make sure to provide your current parent volunteers a communication timeline, with expectations around email cadences and phone call/text plans. And, don’t forget to give these volunteers communication enablement, such as open house invite templates, text suggestions, and more!
2. Highlight Student Life
What is it really like to be a student at your school? Families want to hear directly from your students about the academics, sports, clubs, and other great things about student life. This idea of social proof, that people are influenced by the majority, isn’t new. Make your social proof stand out!
Have students film short testimonials in real student life situations, such as before a game, during an engaging class (with permission of course), or while doing a service project. If you have tracked what email content resonated most with prospective families, you should tailor the social proof to their interests. With a bit of strategic planning, your communication impact can be even larger!
3. Host Office Hours with School Stakeholders
It takes a high level of trust for parents to feel comfortable and safe allowing their kids to be supervised and nurtured by someone else. Consider having your school stakeholders – administrators, coaches, department heads, and others – host office hours or coffee talks. These can be done safely in person or virtually, and you could have your current parent volunteers sign up to join as well. Having some initial feeder questions or conversation will open others up. If your admissions management system has an event management feature, you can gain further insight into your prospective families’ interests.
4. Personalize Communication
Create a flexible communication timeline that can be adjusted as you learn more about your prospective families interactions. Did people open up all of your open house emails but never register for one? Maybe you could share a virtual tour video and have a current student or family call those people. Did someone open and read all of your emails featuring your school’s athletic accomplishments, but he/she/they isn’t going to your head coach’s office hours? Maybe staff from your athletic department could call or text a personal invite. Are emails with student testimonials outperforming everything else? Seek out more students to share everything that they love about your school!
You get the idea. Lay out a blueprint for your communications and adjust as you learn more about your prospective families.
Casting a wide net certainly has its merits when it comes to marketing and communication. Your admissions office can’t spend time segmenting each and every prospective family. Or can you?
If you have a system that tags prospective families based on zip code, feeder school, Admissions Office event attendance, or any custom criteria, segmenting takes no longer than clicking a button. With those insights, you can dedicate more time to families in those segments who are historically most likely to apply. Spend your time where it can have the most impact!
If people feel connected to your school stakeholders and current families, you will have continued success with applications. Find a system that helps quickly and easily facilitate that key relationship-building element of admissions – including event management, communication tracking, and segment reporting. You could see your applications increase in quantity and quality! For more on how Ravenna can help you steward prospective families, visit here.