The burden of enrollment does not rest solely on the admissions office. However, without an effective admissions office, enrollment cannot reach its full potential in any school. Here are some tips to help you optimize your admissions office's processes in order to grow enrollment.
Understand the different factors that affect enrollment.
The admissions office is an important part of enrollment, but it is not solely responsible for this function of the school. Enrollment is impacted by many different factors, including the school's marketing strategies, the effectiveness of the teachers, the level of engagement of current families and the circumstances within the surrounding community. Problems in any of these areas can lead to a decline in enrollment and must therefore be addressed immediately.
Collect information to assess trends.
The most important asset you have when it comes to evaluating the state of your school's enrollment is the data you collect. Collect and analyze data regarding your school's retention and attrition, both overall and in individual grade levels or classes. Solicit feedback from current families, staff members and faculty. Use all of this information to look for strengths and weaknesses that may be affecting enrollment. If you find weaknesses, take steps to correct them and/or compensate for them.
Be proactive about communication.
The admissions office cannot operate alone. It requires support from faculty, staff, administration, board members and current families in order to perform at its best. Be proactive about communicating with all of these people at regular intervals throughout the year. Make sure that:
- Faculty members, staff and administrators are aware of trends in retention and attrition.
- Faculty members are effective, engaged and working to grow enrollment.
- Current families have the resources they need to "sell" the school to others, such as enrollment packets or brochures.
- Board members and other stakeholders have accurate reports and forecasts with regard to enrollment.
Create a clear plan for dealing with prospective families.
Involve faculty, staff and administration in the creation of a clear plan you will use any time a new family shows interest in the school. This plan should include strategies for bringing families in for a tour, conducting a successful tour and following up to maximize the chances of enrollment. The admissions office should respond to any expressions of interest quickly in order to avoid losing a prospective student. In addition, all interactions with the prospective family should be customized as much as possible based on the information provided by the family during the inquiry process.
Develop a solid onboarding strategy.
Once you have recruited a new family, the next step involves making sure that the family feels welcome, gets involved and re-enrolls the following year. The admissions office should develop a concise, proactive onboarding strategy designed to ensure that no new family "falls through the cracks" after enrolling. This strategy should involve not only the admissions office, but also the faculty and administrators.
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