Enrolling students must be someone's job and everyone's job. Certainly the admission office is responsible for inviting students, but the other board, other administrators, faculty, and families also have an important role to play. An effective way to share the load to grow enrollment is through family mobilization. As we discussed on the School Growth Webinar this week, below are some ways to gain broader involvement.
A great way to get more families onto your campus is to ask faculty to teach adult and youth classes or camps. This might include classes for business writing, drama, photography, technology, music, or maybe even wood carving. This provides a way for faculty to supplement their income, makes use of additional skills/interests, and helps increase mindshare for the school in your community and they have a chance to see what great teachers and coaches you have. Of course you want to make sure marketing materials are readily available and shared.
Business Cards and Marketing Materials
Hopefully your school employees are active in your community, so leverage those relationships established through church, recreation leagues, summer camps, tutoring, etc. Encourage your faculty to distribute school materials by giving them some business cards and a school information packet. Faculty contribute in a significant way to the recruitment and retention of students, so train them to understand and share the key points of the school story. You might even create a challenge among faculty groups to invite the most families.
On average, 75-80% of your new families will come from referrals by your current families. Invest the time to maximize the number of parent ambassadors across your campus. Activate them with meaningful training and concrete ways to contribute. They are your raving fans and want to invite others.
Your newly enrolled families are generally the most enthusiastic. Consider hosting an ice cream social (or similar event) and encourage new families to bring friends. You might also want to recruit and train mentor families to partner with your new parents and provide guidance to them in their first year. The number one reason why parents may not be inviting other families is that you haven't asked them to do so. Set that expectation early and often.
Ask your Ambassador families to host coffees and/or deserts people in their community or subdivision. They could also host useful training session at their home like "Raising Teenagers While Keeping Your Sanity" or "Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Teachers." These sessions can be led by school personnel and, of course, admission materials will be included. This is a very effective way to expand your platform of influence.
Mine the Data
Dig into your data on prospective and current families, looking for key influencers such as real estate agents, corporate HR leaders, church leaders, pediatricians, etc. Look for ways to provide mutual benefits to local community leaders and they are more likely to work with you. Sometimes the post office will provide a neighborhood address list, and you can use some purchased lists as well. Find ways to stay in touch with families who were previously at your school or who opted not to enroll previously because their life situation may have changed and sparked renewed interest.
Use social media to create friends and followers on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Make it easy for your parents to share your messages by encouraging them to re-tweet your comments, like posts about your school, re-pin your graphics, and so on. Increase the share-ability of your communications by featuring names, names, names--of your students and parents. Make them the heroes.
Mobilize your families and your faculty as a team to grow enrollment!