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Step 2: Crafting an Irresistible Story for Your School

4 min read
Aug 30, 2023 8:00:00 AM

7 Steps to a Better Student Recruitment Plan: Step 2

Welcome to the second part of our seven-part series, 7 Steps to a Better Student Recruitment Plan! You can learn more about this series here, check out Step 1 from last week, or skip ahead to Step 3.

Today, we’re kicking off the second installment with storytelling — and I don’t mean the fictional book kind! By the end of this blog, you’ll understand the importance of having a story for your school as well as how you can be sure the one you’re telling is strong and compelling.

Put Yourself in the Shoes of a Prospective Parent

Let’s think about how parents choose a school. Prior to the expansion of school choice, there were a few, very straightforward reasons for picking a school: 

  • It’s the school that’s closest to me 
  • It’s the school I’m zoned for
  • It’s the school I don’t have to pay for

As little as 20 years ago, these were highly motivating reasons for why families chose — or even just defaulted to — the schools they attended. But today, choosing a school is considerably more complex.

For prospective parents, the decision is no longer between the local public school and the local private school. Nowadays, parents options include:

  • Traditional public schools in their district
  • Traditional public schools in neighboring districts
  • Public charter schools
  • Private schools that cost a lot
  • Private schools that don’t cost anything (due to vouchers)
  • Magnet schools
  • Virtual schools
  • Homeschool (or homeschool pods)

To compete with other schools in your community, you have to give parents a reason why they should choose your school — you need to tell them a story.Subscribe to the schoolmint blog ad

Creating Your School’s Story

If you’re wondering, “What’s a school story?” — don’t fret. The concept is pretty simple. Your school’s story is a culmination of all the things that make your school unique. Your school story is, at its core, the answer to a parent’s question of “Why should I choose your school?”

To begin creating your story, you need to answer that question. And it’s not as hard as you might think!

Pull up a blank document. Think about your school.

How would you describe your school in a way that’d make a parent who’s never heard of you want to choose you? What about parents who have heard of you but don’t know what makes your school special?

Now think about things that parents look for in a school:

  • A good education
  • Unique growth opportunities
  • Extracurricular activities their child is interested in
  • Programs and resources for children who need support
  • Assurance their child will be cared for, loved, and protected
  • College and career preparation

If your school has high acceptance rates at great colleges, if your school is the only one in the area to offer swim team, if your school has a fantastic support program for children with special needs, or really anything else — you need to tell parents the story of your school. And to do so loudly and proudly!

Don’t assume your community knows what you offer. Identify what makes your school unique, then communicate that story consistently across your website, promotional materials, social media, school tour, and so on into infinity.

Assignment #3: Write Your School’s Story

So here’s your assignment to go along with last week’s assignments: write five reasons why a parent should choose your school.

Once done, review your list. For each reason you wrote, ask yourself, “Are these reasons important to a parent…or are they important to me?” Be sure you’re looking at your list through the lens of a prospective parent.

If needed, edit your list to be things parents care about. Once you’ve got five reasons that pass the test, determine if those reasons are unique to your school. Since you’re competing with every other school in your community (plus homeschooling and virtual schools), you need to make sure you’re communicating things a family can get only at your school.

Lastly, review your list one more time. This time, you’ll be looking for education-related jargon. And remove every single bit of it in there!

While you know the importance of learner-centered classrooms, inquiry-based learning, one-to-one technology, and the endless list of abbreviations related to student behavior and learning styles, this jargon means nothing to most parents.

Focus on the things they care about, and you’ll be on your way to an incredible school story.

Assignment #4: Confirm Your Story

Once you’ve written your story, solicit feedback from other faculty members — and, more importantly, current parents about your five reasons.

You may find your school’s current families chose you for completely different reasons than what’s on your list. Use their input to revise your story again.

Now you have your school’s story — and you know it’s accurate, compelling, and ready to be part of your student recruitment strategy.

And now you are ready to move to the next part in this series: Step 3 — how to better understand the parents you serve.

At SchoolMint, we spend a lot of time working with schools and helping them articulate their story. Many of our clients, particularly public school clients, haven’t historically had to tell their story. But now they do.

If you were struggling in the consideration and engagement phase from the funnel exercise last week, having a strong school story is key.

If you’re interested in some outside help in uncovering what makes your school (or schools) compelling, check out our enrollment marketing services.

Our expert team would love to help you find your school’s unique story!chat with a schoolmint k-12 enrollment consultant ad

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