Each new generation of parents is more and more familiar with bleeding-edge technology. Today, we are able to bank, shop, play and even, repay our friends through apps on any of our smart devices. These devices allow us to nurture friendships and stay up to date with current events. Without having to be in person, we are able to constantly stay connected and be in the know with what is going on with our friends no matter where they are in the world. And all it takes is seconds on our smart device.
What Does This Have to Do With School Admissions?
Great question. “Personal contact” has to be redefined to meet the expectations of the prospective and current parents, and future alumni and donors. The upcoming generations want the same level of service they already receive from their banks, their doctors, their frequent flyer programs – knowledge of who they are and the details of their relationship with you. They expect you to know about the current and previous conversations they’ve had with other members of your staff.
As an admissions officer, they want you to know about their family structure, their academic and extracurricular interests, for you to know when they clicked “submit” on finishing their application for your school. These parents want to be able to log into their parent portal on their smart device and quickly see where they are at in the admissions/enrollment process, sign up for an open house, pay their deposits and tuition, check grades, etc. They expect immediate access to any “paperwork” or transactional history. And, this is important – when they actually do pick up the phone to call you, or vice-versa, they expect that you’ll know all of this about them as if you had been thinking about them all day.
A personal connection is no longer purely about a face-to-face meeting. It’s also about how well you can demonstrate that you know your families, over the phone, through email, and through organized communication. It is all about building a strong relationship and the only way to make this easy is to use technology as often and as effectively as they do.
Here is a list of some things to think about:
Use technology to keep up with communication
It is critical for your family’s information to be up to date and easily available to you and your team. For example, if a donor happens to call your Development director, they expect him or her to know – immediately – that earlier that morning his son, Little Johnny, got accepted into 6th grade and will be trying out for soccer.
Be online 100%
You need to have online forms, a parent portal, and single sign-on. Give parents immediate access to the information they demand. They don’t want to call you to find out the status of their application, whether or not their payment was received, or what their child’s homework assignment was. Also, it is now almost inconvenient to have to manually fill out an application or any other paperwork. With technology these days no one wants to actually mail anything into your office.
Build a strong communication plan.
Your communication plan should be as well defined and consistent as your disaster plan. For every impersonal connection with a parent, you should consistently and quickly follow-up with at least two more personal contacts.
For example, if you receive an inquiry and that inquiry specifies that a prospective student has a particular interest in drama, within a few hours of the inquiry receipt, you send an invitation for that student to watch a rehearsal for the upcoming play and have the drama teacher connect with the parent.
Sounds pretty easy, right? But spread that across the different types of inquiries… and even further across the different departments of your school and it gets complicated quickly. To be able to respond to a variety of different scenarios in a consistent and timely fashion, you need to plan for each one and the action you will take. If you use SchoolAdmin, you have the capability to create an unlimited amount of communication plans.
What about connecting with them on social media? Check out our blog, 3 Simple Steps to Social Media for School Admissions.
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