June 25, 2023
The best way to begin any relationship is with conversation and active listening. As you plan your upcoming school year, consider ways to engage prospective families through intentional and personalized dialogue.
Taking the time to engage each family in conversation demonstrates the high value you put on getting to know them, their concerns, and their desires for their children in a way pure facts and statistics cannot.
Here are four tips to consider as you develop your admission plans for the year ahead.
#1—Segment Your Messaging
Your school has many unique offerings, and it’s tempting to share all of them with every prospective family—even if they don’t care to hear it. When you share something a prospective family has no interest in, their reaction might be that you don’t really know their wants or needs.
For example, if your school is known for its competitive athletic programs, with an impressive showing of state championships, you might be tempted to lead with that in your messaging and make it the headline of your marketing materials. If some prospective students have zero interest in sports, you are missing the mark with them and potentially discouraging some great candidates.
Take time to discover the real interests of each prospective student. You can do this through meaningful conversations or with the help of well-crafted online inquiry forms. Once you know what matters to them, segment your messaging and share specific programming and benefits that will resonate.
Are you interviewing a student who loves science? Consider sharing an anecdote about some of the cool experiments happening in your science department and how this relates to your school’s inquiry-based approach to learning.
#2—Add Value With Every Interaction
Parents are busy, so ditch the kitchen-sink approach to communication in favor of value-added messaging. To achieve this goal, consider these tips.
- Prioritize quality customer service.
- Make your school’s mission clear—early and often.
- Establish trust through points of contact.
- Identify needs and offer solutions.
Tune in to live webinars every week during the school year to get specific, research-backed insight you can immediately apply at your school.
Whenever families visit your campus, find opportunities to engage them in conversation about things that matter to them. You may not be able to personally interact with each prospective student—this is where your parent or student admission ambassadors, faculty, and other staff are critical to your success!
Anyone can learn how to ask a question, listen thoughtfully, and then offer a response. Having a handful of scripted questions ready to ask prospective families demonstrates an interest in learning about them.
To ensure conversations remain aligned with your values, use a list of commonly asked questions to prepare responses that reinforce your school’s mission.
#4—Engage the Student
Research demonstrates that students have an important influence in selecting their school. This is why engaging the student, as much as their parents—especially early in the admission process—can go a long way.
Inviting families to visit is one way to get students excited about enrolling. Spending a day on campus provides them an opportunity to see your popular programs in action or to meet with teachers who can answer their questions about academics or programming. This experience goes a long way toward helping prospective students envision themselves as part of your community.
Be mindful of each detail—from how they are greeted on arrival to their lunchroom experience—because students assess your school from the moment they step on campus.
The best way to ensure you enroll mission-appropriate students is to get to know them and their families during the admission process and to let them get to know you. Helping them learn why your school is a strong match becomes much easier when you know what they seek … and all you need to do is ask!