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Introduction to K-12 Strategic Enrollment Management: Part 1

4 min read
Oct 6, 2021 8:00:00 AM

Attract families. Boost enrollment. Build positive classrooms. Discover the difference the K-12 Strategic Enrollment Management framework can make in your school or district.

With default neighborhood public school assignments on the decline and families increasingly able to choose their child’s school from multiple options, the need for schools and districts to ensure equitable access to high-quality education options has never been greater.

As families nationwide demand a more transparent, inclusive enrollment process, the stakes are getting higher.

To meet this demand, forward-thinking leaders in education now recognize that the Strategic Enrollment Management framework offers a much more holistic experience than a traditional enrollment approach.

What is Strategic Enrollment Management?

Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) is an ongoing, deliberate approach to choice and engagement that higher education has been following for years. Now the concept has entered the K-12 education space.

SEM starts before enrollment even begins with marketing and outreach. Then it transitions into applications and registration, continuing throughout the school year with ongoing family engagement that spans a student’s entire time attending school.

SEM requires a philosophical shift. Leadership must commit to rethinking the entire enrollment experience, which begins with a family’s first interaction and continues throughout their lifetime with the school system.

Transitioning to a strategic enrollment process can be a challenge for districts and schools. But the stakes are too high to ignore or delay.

The High Stakes of Student Enrollment

dark blue circle icon with a ribbon in the center1. Brand and Reputation

With increasing competition, schools have to differentiate themselves and provide quality experiences for families.

dark blue circle icon with schoolhouse and leaf2. Financial Sustainability

Forecasting, optimizing, and balancing enrollment demand across schools is a critical budget lever. The K-12 SEM framework can help your bottom line.

dark blue circle icon with chart operational efficiency icon3. Operational Efficiency

Real-time enrollment data is critical to informing your strategic decisions about planning and executing operations, logistics, and facilities.

dark blue circle icon with globe inclusion and access global icon4. Inclusion and Access

Equity and accessibility throughout the enrollment process ensure all students have a chance at enrollment and fair practices for families.

dark blue circle icon of two parents and a child together5. Family Engagement

Families form their first impression of you during the enrollment process. Strategic Enrollment Management puts family engagement at the forefront.

dark blue circle icon with a cursor clicking in the middle6. Programs and Outcomes

The right data enables you to monitor relative demand for schools and programs and determine which ones to replicate and which to reconsider.

Every city, school, and district is unique. Each has its own student population, socioeconomic and political landscape, budget and operations, and community relationships.

Take the time to define your needs, and enlist a cross-section of stakeholders to work together to determine the scope, policies, protocols, and processes that will define your new system under Strategic Enrollment Management.

Primary Considerations

  • Define the problem your school or district needs to address with the new enrollment system.
  • Understand which enrollment strategies would best address the problem you need to solve.
  • Take your time with a thoughtful design process, and involve stakeholders to define the requirements, processes, and governance.
  • Describe what success will look like for your new system — and document it.
  • Identify who will be responsible for administering the new system.

To ensure you have the requirements for a new enrollment system, start by defining the issue(s) that must be addressed by the new system, then craft a “problem statement.”

This isn’t just a critical first step — it’s also a way to keep everyone focused throughout the design, implementation, maintenance, and evaluation of the system.

Strategic Enrollment Management Solutions

Don’t keep doing the same thing yet hoping for a new outcome! Districts and schools across the country choose SchoolMint to increase student enrollment, improve teacher retention, and create positive school climates.

With a full suite of Strategic Enrollment Management solutions, SchoolMint can help you attract and enroll more students and families, then retain them throughout their time with you. 

In the second installment this blog series, you’ll learn about common enrollment problems, different enrollment strategies, and things to take into account when building your own strategy. Click here to read part two.



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