Tour Dos and Don'ts

Vol. 12 No. 5


The winter season has definitely arrived and so has tour season! Soon, you will play host to prospective parents and their children. Keep reading to find some dos—and don’ts!—for your visitor programs to guarantee a successful season.

  • DO establish a personal connection with each family. Have a conversation with the parents and children to learn about the family’s priorities and the student’s strengths. If you’re planning a larger event this spring like an open house, personally speak with all attendees and send a customized follow-up. Even a sticky note on the form letter referencing specific details from a conversation goes a long way to striking up that vital rapport with a potential new student.
  • DON’T feel that your ability to fill seats this year lets you get away with giving visitors less than your complete attention. Just because your school is full to bursting with a healthy wait pool this year does not mean that the same will be true down the road. Maintain your school’s reputation by continuing to give 100% to inquiring families.
  • DO know the most important questions your visiting families have—and DO know the answers to them all! You’ve probably been giving tours and interacting with new parents and students for years, so the answers are ingrained at this point, but not all staff or faculty will have the same level of experience. Consider writing the answers to common questions in an easily accessible resource for those who don’t field these inquiries daily. ISM’s The Admission Funnel includes the following areas (among others!) as qualities parents look for when preparing to send their child to a new school:
    • Your school’s mission and how it’s fulfilled
    • Class size
    • Your Portrait of the Graduate
    • Facilities and resources
    • Expected financial obligations
    • The composition of the student population and the school’s approach to diversity (if applicable)
  • DON’T think only your Admission Office is involved in showing off your school! When touring the school, families examine your campus with a fine-toothed comb, and it stands to reason that the faculty could make or break the decision to apply. In addition to the answers you provided them with above, you should also make sure that the faculty have their 30 second “elevator speech” prepared about the school. Personal stories about the students they teach and their professional development goals that align with the school’s mission work wonderfully for this! Make a point of sitting down with each of the faculty to help them sculpt a tale or two to share with visiting families.
  • DO remember that the visit is a two-way street. Just as you and your school are evaluated by the family, so are you evaluating the family as a prospective member of your academic community. While tours are not interviews and should be enjoyable for everyone involved, guides should be on the look out for potential red flags to report to the Admission Office for further consideration—or for unforeseen positives, too!

Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 1 Make Your Next Open House Exciting and Effective
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 8 No. 4 Private School Facts—What You Didn’t Want Parents to Find

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 32 No. 3 Marketing Your Purpose and Outcome Statements
I&P Vol. 26 No. 5 Your Faculty’s Role in the Admission Process

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