In the final episode of the "Enrollment Blitz" webinar series, we focused on strategies for onboarding new families in order to increase their enthusiasm and likelihood to reenroll.
We use the term “onboarding” to describe an intentional process for families to learn about the common language, expectations, communication outlets, and other such details about the school so that they have a smooth transition into the community and culture of the campus.
Raving fans a great asset to drive word-of-mouth marketing—which we all greatly desire. Engaged, enthusiastic and excited families are most likely to invite others to consider enrollment and to give in some way. Some schools go so far as to cultivate a consultative relationship with their families, where they have greater understanding of the issues and concerns of parents and students and seek to create solutions.
Recommended Strategies for Effective Onboarding
Mentor parents These are carefully selected parents who personify the mission and culture of your program. Mentor Parents volunteer to work with new families to help them acclimate, build new friendships, and overcome any concerns or fears. They might be expected to host two events for new families would be trained in how to effectively communicate about announcements, upcoming events, and traditions of the school. These leaders are selected based on their ability to build strong relationships, their high level of emotional maturity, and their scope of influence.
Creating your packets. Having the Admissions office put together well explained, easy to understand onboarding packets helps accelerate new families in their knowledge, expectations, and engagement to your school. By sharing the packets with your Mentor Parents, it provides them talking points for conversations and follow up.
Social event. Invite Mentor Parents host an event for new families to interact with the school leadership. This more comfortable event could be at their home or at their neighborhood clubhouse. The ultimate purpose of the meeting is to hand off the new families from the admissions office to the school administration, and provides the new families an opportunity to meet new people beyond admissions. Packets are shared and they are able to connect with the right point of contact at the school.
Summer parents. When new families enroll late in the admissions process, they have ground to make up FAST! Onboarding of these new families needs to be done quickly but with intentional school relationships rapidly established. Admissions should have coaches, art teachers, drama directors, band directors, etc. call immediately to plug the new students into their areas of interests. Encourage Mentor Parents to contact them immediately is paramount to their onboarding and establishing connection within the school family.
New family data. Since new families are now just being added to the school's database, they will need access to the parent portal within the school’s student information system. Provide easy to understand instructions in the welcome packet.
Class schedule. New families need access to the school's guidance counselor. She/he can quickly provide the new student's academic schedule for the parents to buy books, uniforms, and supplies. Promptly providing details like the class schedule can help alleviate stress and anxiety regarding the basic details of campus life.
New family meetings. Establishing clear expectations at the beginning with each new family is vital to a successful long-term relationship. This might include inviting them to give to the annual fund as an expression of their commitment to the future of the school and to sign up for volunteer opportunities. Encourage them to take concerns directly to teachers and coaches, and to assume the best of each other.
On boarding does not end as you begin the new fall semester. It continues throughout the first semester with active engagement by the administrators and/or counselors. Have the guidance counselors proactively ask the new students how they are doing behaviorally, academically, and socially during their initial semester. Monitoring how well they are assimilating, connecting, and engaging is very important. Survey the new families in the fall, asking about their experience and what they would change adjust or improve.
Raving fans are the best assets to drive your word-of-mouth marketing. Engaging enthusiastic parents contribute directly to your school’s growth, success, and future opportunities.