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Using a School Finder to Improve Access to Choice in Districts

5 min read
Jul 19, 2023 8:00:00 AM

Amid increasing school choice and competition, a school search platform can be your district’s ticket to the front of the line in parents’ minds.

Today, families are presented with an unprecedented range of choices when seeking out a school in K-12, and the educational “marketplace” has become highly competitive and crowded. Families often search for schools much in the same way they search for and compare, well, products on Amazon.

To ease that “shopping” experience, we created SchoolFinder — the ultimate school showcase for districts.

As the platform has recently experienced a significant facelift and been enhanced with new features, I want to share how this incredible platform connects each school in a district with the families that school serves best.

What is SchoolFinder?

SchoolFinder is a school search and comparison tool for K-12 — a “district search engine,” if you will. Think Google but only for your district’s schools.

And while you may point here to your school directory, families often struggle regardless with comparing the schools within that directory and making a final enrollment decision. This is where SchoolFinder comes in, connecting your schools with local families.

The platform is dual-purposed for two audiences:

  1. Families: Local families have one destination to research, discover, and compare all school options in an easy, interactive search-and-learn manner.
  2. Districts: You can equally showcase each of your schools on a platform through which you can promote their programs to families as parents search for, learn about, and compare schools of interest.

SchoolFinder facilitates the enrollment process by giving families the ability to locate their neighborhood school, search for schools on a map, or match to best-fit schools using the guided search process.

On any results page, families can compare schools side-by-side — or dive more deeply into a school profile and see current content (like photos, videos, and upcoming events) in addition to data points, demographics, and performance data.

schoolfinder compare schools feature

Further, SchoolFinder helps you replace the sites potential families land on when searching for information about your schools. These sites often contain incorrect, outdated, or inconsistent information that conflicts with official school-published information and data.

Some of these sites include GreatSchools, Niche, PublicSchoolReview, PrivateSchoolReview, and SchoolDigger. Each site uses their own criteria for rankings and typically offers a place for visitors (most commonly parents) to leave a school review.

Plus, managing your schools’ profiles across all of these platforms can be cumbersome. Imagine the headache of having to update just one or two pieces of information for 10 schools. Or 25. Or 100. SchoolFinder eliminates that problem by streamlining the process of making quick edits to your schools’ programs, services, and more.schoolfinder manage schools and programs feature

Further complicating the school selection process is that real estate agents often direct families to where the “good schools” are in a particular city, guiding them to one neighborhood over another based on that agent’s own biases and second-hand knowledge.

This knowledge is opinion-based and can include rumors, personal experiences, peer opinions (“My friend told me that Silverstone Elementary is…”), and general myths (i.e., “There are no good schools in that part of town”).

While you ultimately can’t control these informal conversations about your school, SchoolFinder offers you a chance to showcase your schools in the best light possible.Subscribe to the schoolmint blog ad

What Do Families Want in a New School?

When we talk to families about the research, discovery, and decision-making process, they often say, “I want my child to attend a good school.”

Well, what is a good school? How is it defined? Does a school’s academic performance determine whether the school is good?

As the leading expert in student enrollment and with our exclusive access to SchoolFinder’s family search and SchoolMint Enroll’s enrollment data, we at SchoolMint know what families look for when evaluating school options.

Some of those factors include:

  • Proximity to home
  • Transportation availability
  • Student support services
  • Academic programs
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Student body diversity
  • Academic performance

The takeaway here is that a good school means different things to different people. Providing access to this information is critical to helping each potential parent or guardian compare your schools on the metrics that matter most to their family.

However, a lack of reliable information explains why so many families struggle with the discovery and comparison process.

Often, districts host school fairs, but with limited budgets and resources, these events often miss the families who would benefit most from the experience — parents without transportation, parents who must work atypical hours, or parents who don’t speak English as a first language. These groups (among many others) can be at a real disadvantage for attending district information sessions and school fairs.

SchoolFinder solves this problem by being accessible via mobile device, by being available 24/7 no matter the parent’s location, and by offering translation of all pages into that family’s preferred language.

Rather than needing to physically attend one of your fairs or participating in an online event, they can discover all there is to know about your district’s schools and compare multiple schools against each other through the easy, intuitive, step-by-step process SchoolFinder offers.

schoolfinder guided search feature

Another way districts attempt to boost awareness of their many schools is through publishing printed guides of all of their schools. Unfortunately, these resources are often outdated the moment they are printed, whether due to a change in leadership, contact information, program availability, or other general information.

The result is a waste of time, energy, and money when most families just wanted to know about one or two specific programs.

Once again, SchoolFinder can help here. Updating profiles and managing each school’s offerings happens with just a few clicks. Families can also download .pdf profiles of the school and keep a digital file for their personal reference.

What Will SchoolFinder Do for Your District?

Let’s go back to the idea I presented earlier of families searching for schools being similar to shopping online. This presents a marked change from enrollment of years gone by, where a parent would enroll their child at the local public school by default.

Let’s be clear: those days are over. And at SchoolMint, we’re helping districts both large and small navigate this new reality. 

We aim to help you provide your local families with an authentic search experience that gives them the ability to evaluate their choices, compare options, express interest, and make informed decisions — ultimately leading to an application through SchoolFinder’s integration with SchoolMint Enroll.

Learn more about the platform, or get in touch with our enrollment team to get a personalized demo for your school district.

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