The world is changing, and private school admission is changing right along with it. Parents and students want different things when it comes to their commitment to education, and it’s up to Admission Directors to illustrate the value their schools provide.
One question often asked is whether open houses are still an effective recruitment and retention tool. Some Admission Directors have moved away from the practice entirely, choosing instead to lead small group tours and host one-on-one conversations.
However, we believe open houses can be effective—when structured correctly. It’s time to relinquish the notion that open houses should be held mainly in your auditorium after hours, where families listen to speakers and then perhaps take a tour.
This model doesn’t work for many reasons. Parents aren’t able to see your school in action—such as how your faculty and students interact, the quality of your learning programs, your facilities at work—so everything they hear is hypothetical. You’re telling them what your mission is, but they never get the chance to see it for themselves.
Today’s private school families want more than just a description of what your school has to offer. An interactive open house solves this issue, letting families experience your school in action.
Here are three tips for constructing a successful interactive open house.
Tip #1: Cluster grades and have select teachers lead demonstrations. Group families whose children are close in grade level and have them go through a quick lesson with some of your best teachers. Allow them to see what it would be like to actually learn in your school!
Tip #2: Invite students to join. To make this experience even more authentic, invite some of your current students to sit in on the lesson as well. This helps parents observe authentic teacher and student interaction. Ensure the demo lessons require no prior knowledge so that all participating students can experience success.
Tip #3: Make sure teachers use your facility to its full potential. When helping prep your teachers for these lessons, guide them to use any of your school’s differentiating factors. Did you just invest in iPads for all students? Perhaps those play a role. How about a new smartboard? Maybe you decide to focus on small class sizes with one-on-one guidance. Make sure these are accounted for during the lesson.
An interactive open house—one where families see your mission at work—can still have many benefits for your enrollment management strategy. Consider these tips as you look to your open house events to see if they work for you.
We recently shared even more insight in Ideas & Perspectives, our flagship periodical available for ISM members. Members can read the article in full, and nonmembers can read more about the benefits of membership here.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Advancement Vol. 16 No. 10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Open House
Additional ISM resources for members:
I&P Vol. 43 No. 16 Design an Interactive Open House to Drive Enrollment
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