Re-enrollment as Re-recruitment

Vol. 11 No. 3


How many times a day do you see or hear ads from cell service providers, telling potential customers how they offer faster service, better coverage, and cheaper rates than the other guy? They spend all their time and effort attempting to lure new customers. Same goes for cable television providers. But what effort goes into retaining their customers? Generally, not much. These services usually have their customers nailed into two-year contracts. It’s easy to argue that the law of inertia tends to keep customers where they are beyond two years—and the thought that it's not really worth the effort to move.

As Admission Director, you head your school’s considerable efforts to attract new students to your school. But how much time and energy do you put in keeping the students you have? Unlike a cable or cell service, your families are investing not only a significant amount of money in your program, they are entrusting their children’s education to your school. You need to put the same effort into keeping the students you have as you do recruiting them. After all, every retained student means one less seat you need to fill with a new student.

Think of retention as re-recruitment. That way, you don’t merely assume students will return. Instead, you actively cultivate your families throughout the year. Continue the strong effort you used to attract your families to strengthen their bond with the school as the student moves from grade to grade. Your focus should be to validate the quality of your programs and the opportunities your school offers. Here are some tips for your parent newsletter.

  • Highlight a specific program or school benefit for a lead article in each of your parent newsletters to highlight your school’s strengths.
  • Recognize alumni accomplishments to illustrate what a graduate of your school “looks like”—the graduate’s capabilities and character built on the foundation of experience in your program.
  • Include a feature on a teacher that will help showcase your outstanding faculty as a whole. Fall is a good time to introduce new teachers, and to spotlight some impressive summer activities of your returning teachers.

Another key re-recruitment tool is an an easy-to-navigate, informative, attractive, and, most importantly, up-to-date Web site. Nothing is more frustrating to a parent than not being able to find essential information such as the school calendar, contact information, and important deadlines on your Web site. It’s also important to your advancement efforts to have your “support the school” information at their fingertips, particularly in December for those last-minute tax-deductible gifts.

While re-recruitment is the responsibility of everyone in your school—administrators, teachers, staff, and students—you should assemble your re-recruitment leadership team. This should include, along with yourself, Division Heads, the Parent Relations Director, the Publications and Web Directors, and the College Counselor or Placement Officer.

Your re-recruitment team is charged to develop a re-recruitment plan for your school. It must include specific tactics, deadlines, assigned responsibilities, support needed, and any potential costs. That way, your re-recruitment effort is more than an afterthought. Working with this plan, you can effectively combat attrition.

Additional ISM resources of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 9 No. 8 Filling Your Seats When Parents Don’t Promptly Re-enroll
ISM’s compendium Marketing Your School: Recruitment and Re-recruitment
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 8 No. 4 Your Secret Weapon for Re-recruitment: You Faculty
ISM Recorded Webinar: The Art and Science of Systematic Bragging: The Fundamentals of Parent Relations and Education

Additional ISM resources for Consortium Gold Members
To The Point Vol. 7 No. 6 The Re-recruitment Team in Action
To The Point Vol. 7 No. 8 Teachers—Your Most Effective Re-recruitment Resource
I&P Vol. 31 No. 6 Your Parent Education Plan: Predictability and Support

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