7 Steps to a Better Student Recruitment Plan: Step 5
Amid increasing school choice and awareness of other school options, more and more parents are taking ownership of the decision of where to send their child to school. They want to make the best decision and will often choose the school that explains why they’re the best choice.
It’s important to recognize that their decision on where to enroll their child is one of the most important decisions they’ll make. Of course, not every parent looks at it this way. Some take the path of least resistance and do indeed send their child to the nearest public school.
But the number of parents who feel this way is decreasing. And as such, you have to be proactive about engaging families rather than relying on them to enroll with you just because your campus exists nearby.
In today’s installment of 7 Steps to a Better Student Recruitment Plan, you’ll learn the importance of improving family engagement in two key areas: your school website and your school tour (don’t have one? Keep reading!).
Improving Family Engagement via Your School Website
For your school to be successful in a competitive environment, you must provide multiple ways for parents to engage with you. Your goal is to convince them that your school is the best choice.
Your first way to engage with your prospective parents is your website.
Many schools make the mistake of thinking their website is a vehicle to communicate with existing families. It is (to an extent), but you also need to recognize that your website is often the only way you can describe your school to potential parents. Your currently enrolled families have considerably more ways to receive communications from you.
Does your website tell the story of your school and make parents want to send their children to your school? If you need a refresher on what this all means, go back to Step 2.
Assignment #9: Ensure You’re Telling Your School’s Story on Your Website
Go to your school’s website right now. Read through it, and answer these questions:
- Can you easily find reasons why a parent would choose your school?
- Are you describing your great environment, curriculum, and teachers?
- Do you have pictures of happy students throughout your website?
- Do you have videos showcasing why your school is so great?
- Is your school’s story enticing?
If you’re not answering yes to those questions, you need to do a better job of making your school’s website a true marketing asset rather than just a repository of information. You don’t want to be making any of the 10 most common mistakes schools make on their website!
However, reading about your school and watching engaging videos is not enough.
You need to get parents to your campus — get parents to see the inside of your school, walk your halls, and tour. It’s a critical component of any school’s recruitment process.
SchoolMint offers a variety of enrollment marketing services. With our secret-shopper service, you get third-party, unbiased observations of the online and offline experiences prospective families have with your school.
Never heard of a secret shopper? Learn more about how one of these undercover consultants can help you in this previous article. Don’t have much time? Watch the short video below!
Improving Family Engagement Through via School Tours
Many traditional public schools don’t routinely conduct school tours. If you work in a public school and don’t offer this, you’re forgoing a powerful recruitment tool that every charter and private school uses.
- Additional reading: Why Parents Choose Public Schools
- Additional reading: Why Parents Don’t Choose Public Schools
Now, there can be resistance to offering tours by traditional public schools. After all, you’ve never had to do them! But student recruitment is different now, and you need to adopt different approaches.
Remember last week’s car analogy? Would you ever buy a car without a test drive? You’d want to see how it drives. But yet many schools expect parents to enroll their child without doing the same level of diligence they’d do to purchase a car.
Now, don’t think about school tours as a showcase of your facilities. Regard the tour as a 45-minute opportunity to showcase your school and to demonstrate to parents why they should enroll with you.
If you’re wondering how you could possibly find time to squeeze in a tour, there are ways to make it more manageable:
- Restrict the times for tours. Ideally, parents could tour when they’re free, but in the beginning, it’s okay to restrict tour availability. For example, start offering tours every Wednesday at 2:00 PM. If nobody signs up, you have an hour free in your day. Otherwise, you’re committing one hour a week to doing something that will drastically help your recruitment strategy and enrollment numbers.
- Allow people to register online. One way to manage your time effectively is to allow them to RSVP via an online form. Then you know if they are coming or not. Plus, you ensure that a parent who wants to tour is not playing endless games of phone tag with your receptionist trying to schedule a tour.
Assignment 10: Designate an Hour a Week to Do a Tour
If you already offer tours, this assignment doesn’t apply to you. But if you don’t? It’s time to make a change!
Find a time slot and day on your weekly calendar that you can devote to giving a school tour. Now announce this new offering online (on your website, on your social media, etc.), and post it with an online registration form. This could be as simple as a Google Form.
(By the way, if you’ve never done a tour before or if you have one and want to make it better, we have tips for creating a strong school tour in this post.)
Enrollment is a series of steps you encourage parents to take to get to know your school and, ultimately, enroll their child.
By engaging with them across multiple mediums and by telling your school story effectively on your website and in person, you’ll start to move them from prospective parents to enrolled families.
Head off to Step 6, where you will learn how to deepen your engagement with families through one of the most powerful tools in any recruitment toolbox: the school tour!
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