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Boost Your School's Enrolment with These 3 Proven Tips

Read Time 5 mins | Apr 30, 2024 10:12:20 AM | Written by: Caroline Scott

Introduction

Each September, every private school faces a familiar worry - have all of our available school places been filled? Now, any seasoned admissions pro knows that the new student recruitment season starts long before existing pupils leave for summer holidays, but, in today’s competitive education market, how do school leaders not only attract, but also effectively nurture prospective families as they consider an abundance of school options over a 6 - 12 month period of time?

And, since not every student makes it across the finish line, you’ll want to ensure that the number of applications you receive is at least 1-5 - 2x the number of spaces you need to fill; we call this your enrolment pipeline and it is crucial that all families in your enrolment pipeline feel valued and informed about your program and admissions process.

Take Nudge’s expert advice: a healthy enrolment starts with an effective communication strategy; let’s dive into three tips to get you there.


Keep Communication with Prospective Parents Simple

Clear and concise communication is always important, but especially crucial when aiming to engage busy parents who are likely juggling multiple school admissions process. Prioritise crafting messages that are straightforward and require minimal effort for them to respond, allowing parents to show their interest or advance the process without jumping through hoops.

Key Strategies:

  • Optimise Email Communications: Start by simplifying the language used in your emails. Be concise; ideally, parents should be able to respond with a simple "yes," "no," to complete a straightforward request. For instance, when inviting parents to an Open Day, structure the invitation so that they can RSVP with a single click or reply. Beyond this, use language that feels inclusive, welcoming, and avoids jargon or acronyms; school enrolment is a HUGE decision for families and the language you use sets the tone for your schools’ environment.
  • Reduce Actions Required: Limit the number of actions or decisions parents must make in a single interaction. Overloading parents with multiple forms, surveys, or decisions in one communication can lead to delays and decreased engagement.
  • Segment Your Audience: Tailor your communications based on the stage of the admissions process the parents are in, or by the student’s grade point of entry, so that you are sending only information that is specifically relevant. New inquiries might receive more detailed introductions to the school, while parents further along might get more specific prompts related to enrolment paperwork or next steps.

The Critical Role of Following-Up

Effective follow-up is crucial but often overlooked. Your admissions team sets the tone for the experience that families will have if they choose to enrol at your school, so it is essential that you keep families engaged and informed with personalised follow-up throughout the decision-making process.

Essentials of Effective Follow-Up:

  • Timeliness: Immediate follow-up after an initial inquiry sets the standard for a proactive and attentive relationship. Using an admissions platform that triggers follow-up tasks automatically after a prospect completes a step (or if there hasn’t been a response in a set period) means you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re missing a follow up opportunity.
  • Personalisation: Leverage your CRM notes or custom contact properties to show families that you remember their concerns and value their needs. We love automation at Nudge but believe it only goes so far; create email templates that allow you to standardise 80% of your follow up communication, but offers space to add details relevant to the relationships you have built with your prospective families.
  • Consistency: Establish a consistent cadence for follow-up communications. Whether it's a weekly update or a reminder about upcoming deadlines, keeping a regular schedule helps ensures that your school is at the forefront of parents’ minds without overwhelming them.
  • Multi-Channel Approach: While email is a valuable tool for follow-up, incorporating multiple communication channels such as WhatsApp, phone calls, or even LinkedIn can reach parents in a medium they are most comfortable with. Consider asking about communication preferences during the enquiry phase so that you can maximise your efforts!

Implementing a Successful Referral Programme

Referral programmes can be a powerful tool in the admissions strategy of private schools and offer a real win-win-win for existing families, prospective families, and the school itself. By incentivising current families and alumni to refer new students, schools can leverage their existing community to grow their student body in a cost-effective manner.

Steps to Establish a Referral Programme:

  • Design the Incentive Scheme: Decide on the incentives for both the referrer and the referred family. Common incentives include tuition discounts or credits, which can be appealing to both parties. Ensure the rewards are compelling enough to motivate participation but also sustainable for the school's budget. If you’re a new school, you might create a more substantial referral bonus and then reduce as the school reaches maturity. Look out for super-referrers and consider alternate arrangements - maybe you just found a new member of your admissions team!
  • Communicate Clearly: Launch the programme with clear, straightforward information about how it works, the benefits involved, and any limitations. This should be communicated through multiple channels—email newsletters, school meetings, and direct communications from teachers to parents—to ensure broad awareness.
  • Track and Manage Referrals: Establish a reliable system to track referrals and so that the referrer and the referred family receive their promised benefits. Nothing will kill your referral program faster than “missing” referral payments to existing families! If you already have a robust admissions software, Nudge recommends using a contact property directly on the application so that it’s easy to report and manage your referrals.
  • Celebrate Successes: Publicise the successes of the referral programme within your school community. Sharing stories about how referrals have positively impacted the school can inspire more families to participate.

Improve your admissions process with Nudge

Building a strong and healthy admissions pipeline is essential for hitting enrolment targets and fostering connections with families. However, it requires consistent effort.

Nudge streamlines your admissions process, keeps applications on track, and reduces manual effort.

Discover more and bolster your admissions pipeline today

Caroline Scott

Caroline has spent over a decade in admissions, managing, launching, and growing schools. Her main focus has always been on leveraging data-driven decisions to reach enrollment goals. This passion for data has led her into her new career in revenue operations where she focuses on building seamless, customer-centric journeys.Blending these two worlds, she shares practical and actionable tips that schools can use to implement modern strategies into their admissions process.