The school budget, the programs offered, and the teachers on staff all stem from the number of students that enroll at your school. It’s your bottom line. Every private school struggles to continue increasing student enrollment, simply due to the number of education choices available to students. Focusing on increasing enrollment requires a full coordinated effort and often new approaches to programs offered at the school. In this blog we’ll focus on how to leverage what makes your school unique – and how to tell everyone about it.
Attraction – What makes your school unique?
What makes your school special? Why are staff proud to work at your school? Every school is unique. It could be the sports teams, special programs, faith-based instruction, or unique approach to classroom learning. This is the “brand” of your school and the reason that parents may recognize it as a place to send their children.
The brand may not be what you automatically assume. Start by asking staff, students, and parents what they like about the school. Asking parents will give you a good idea about why they sent their child to the school in the first place. Pro tip: you can use their quotes later in promotional messages
Maybe you’re thinking about standing out from the crowd a bit more, and trying something new at your school. There are many programs and differentiation options to consider that will attract the eyes of prospective parents. Each requires adjusting the curriculum, training staff (or hiring new staff), and getting the necessary resources for the school.
A few popular magnet programs that attract students (and parents!):
- Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)
- Project-Based Learning
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
- Additional languages (Immersion programs or otherwise)
Whichever you pick, aim for a program that sets you apart from other schools in your region. It could be that your school is the only faith-based curriculum with a focus on project-based learning. Stand out by being different, as it will make your school the only choice for students that want the unique education you offer.
How to Promote your School
The plan is in place, everyone is on board, and you’re excited to roll out for the next school year. It’s time to get the word out and start attracting students. You will need to get involved in some marketing activities to communicate the educational benefits of attending your school. Here are some activities to get started:
Word of mouth: Make no mistake, word of mouth is going to be the most effective means of letting the community know of your new programs. Take advantage of the community directly connected to the school: staff, students, and parents. Making the announcement to students may get them excited for next year, but the real network advantage will be through their parents. Use your school parent mailing list to announce the details of the new programs with links to more information on your website. And don’t be shy when asking for referrals! Ask them to share this information with their friends and family right in the email!
School Website: Parents will research every school online before they consider sending their child to it – especially for a private school. Consider getting your website updated with a better visual appeal, and include all of the new information that parents would want to know. Having a clean, modern, and easy to navigate website can be the deciding factor for parents when choosing a school! Your school website should clearly communicate the educational benefits of attending your school. Use your newly organized curriculum documentation to state what programs the school offers, the material that is covered, and how your unique approach preps students for the next stages of their learning and life.
Social Media: If you’re not doing this already, you’re behind the times. Get a school Twitter account, and start tweeting exciting events, student accomplishments, announcements, and anything else to build the brand of your school. Social media encourages students and staff to get involved and share their excitement for school. It also spreads the word of the great things that are happening throughout the school year.
Enter notable competitions: Get noticed in the local news by entering competitions related to the notable programs at your school. Whether it’s a robotics competition, a math league, sports game, or otherwise, having students compete always makes for a good article in the local news. This is a great way for getting your school’s name into a lot of houses and in front of a lot of parents. Keep in mind that this is a long-term strategy since you will need to have the programs in place first.
Starting any new initiative takes some work!. But as more and more students begin taking the classes, they will spread the word through their own family and friend networks making your job that much easier. Building the brand of your school takes a lot of time and effort, but it is an effective approach to increase enrolment and garner public recognition.