It’s that yield time of year where across all media channels, schools will be promoting their “revisit” days, “acceptance parties”, and “welcome nights”. It has come to the point where admission offices will do almost anything to get a heads-up on their yield. Which begs the question, “why not have a better idea throughout the process?” And why not do everything you can to set yourself up for a successful enrollment season?
Colleges have used the “early decision” tactic for years. They use messaging that communicates, “If you tell us that you REALLY want to come, and you’re accepted, you WILL enroll with a guaranteed spot.” Smart, right?
This approach helps to get students processed who don’t need extra attention. But what is really accomplished here is a good read on where an incoming class stands much earlier.
It’s probably untenable for independent schools to adopt this model. Based on conversations with association directors, a choice is still a very important component in many markets. So, this tactic will probably not trickle down anytime soon. However, the need to have a good idea of what your yield is going to be prior to spring break. In a majority of the schools in the U.S. market, there are plenty of nervous directors, business officers, and heads of schools who are looking through the mail and checking their inbox every day waiting for contracts and deposits to show up.
How much better would it be to have a more predictive model for enrollment? What’s more valuable than knowing, in advance, what your classes will look like? Hiring and staffing needs are addressed earlier, waitlists are managed in a more efficient manner, and the budget is much more in focus for the summer months ahead.
While it may be too late to dive in to make a difference for this enrollment class, there is always time to make a change before the next season. Here are three things you can do now to set yourself up for a successful enrollment season:
Start Building a Profile
Know as much as you can about the students who said “yes” as well as the students who said “no” or didn’t respond. With this information, you can plan a targeted communication plan that can solidify applicants’ choice of your school before you even get to the accept stage. Once accepted, you can start to classify those that need a little extra prodding to get them over the finish line.
Make a Date
Look at all of your competing schools and the dates that they currently have events for accepted students. Are you missing an opportunity with students that cross applications? Find a sweet spot and plan your events to put your school and message on the best possible terms. Even better, get your applicants on campus sooner and more often – before decisions – to events geared toward their individual interests.
Strategically Plan Your Communication
Do you have a coordinated effort for when and how you keep prospects in the loop? Does your admission platform help you communicate with your prospects along the way, and is that communication tailored and personalized? In the end, it is the personal relationships you develop that will lead candidates to the bottom of that funnel. Look at what your competition is doing and talk to your current students and parents. In doing so, you might gain insight into opportunities to spread your message at the right time, in the right medium, and to the right candidates.
Overall, your office has put a ton of time into each prospect, and you should fight for each enrollment. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that you have a plan and stick to it.
We’d love to hear your stories of enrollment victories and losses. Is there one student in particular that you “saved” this year? Or did you lose one that you thought was a sure thing? Let’s start the conversation, so we can learn together and be better for next year’s cycle.
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