All across social media channels, we have seen traffic from schools hosting their “revisit” days, “acceptance parties”, “Welcome nights” and more. 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 don’t you have a better idea throughout the process?”
Colleges have done the “early decision” tactic for years, saying “If you tell us that you REALLY want to come, and you’re accepted, you WILL enroll with a guaranteed place.” Smart. While this approach helps to get students processed who don’t need the extra attention, what is really accomplished here is a read on where the class stands much EARLIER.
It’s probably untenable for independent schools to go to this model, and based on conversations with association directors, choice is still a very important component in many markets. So there probably won’t be a trickle down anytime soon. However, the need to have a good idea of yield going into spring break is vital for admission offices. It’s probably fair to say that in a majority of the schools in the US Market, there are plenty of nervous directors, business officers, and heads of school who are looking at the mail every day waiting for contracts and deposits to show up.
Wouldn’t it be better 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, waitpools 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 really dive in to make a difference for this enrollment class, there is always time to improve for next year. Here are three things you can do now to get yourself set up for next 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 targeted communication 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. By looking at what your competition is doing and talking to your current students and parents, you might gain insight into opportunities to spread your message at the right time, in the right medium and to the right candidates.
Clearly, there’s a lot happening here. 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.
We’ll be discussing some important data points at the Small Boarding Schools conference next week in Florida. I’d love to share the results of our presentation with you as soon as I can. If you want to learn more, jump on in.
Yours in the funnel,