Open House Tips and Tricks
Vol. 13 No. 2
October heralds open house season. Just as every school is different, no two schools run open houses in exactly the same way. Here are some insights gleaned from the open house veterans on our Admission Director e-List!
- Experiment with event timing. While fall is considered a major open house season for independent schools, one school remarked that it hosts only a single open house in February and have found it more successful than hosting multiple major events. Others have seen better quality applicants after moving their open house events to the daytime instead of in the evening. One director reported that the few open houses in November often attracted parents unhappy with their student's first report card and not necessarily strong applicants. Consequently, the school switched from massive open house events to smaller weekly events all fall.
- Try multiple smaller events rather than a few massive open houses. Parents are looking to enroll their children at a new school, but their schedules can be hard to work around. By having several smaller events instead of one or two main ones, there’s a greater chance parents can attend your events. Or, you could try what one private school looking to inspire repeat visits is planning this fall: hour-long mini-sessions featuring five-minute presentations by teachers from various departments, followed by brief tours and individual meet-and-greets with parents.
- Use “live” examples from your school’s daily life! Several Admission Directors commented on their open houses’ showing of curricula being used in the classroom that year. These same directors recruited students and alumni to speak to families about their experiences at the school. By using the current curriculum, the students can speak directly to the parents about how the lessons work and impact them, as opposed to forcing analogies between current work and an old curriculum from previous years.
- Go off campus. One school found that by hosting a one-hour breakfast for prospective families at an off-campus restaurant, it had a higher enrollment return than large-scale open houses. After breakfast and presentations by current students and parents, the families were invited to the campus for a tour—only a five minutes trip. The director did warn of loads of leftover food after the event, so order wisely!
With any luck, these glimpses into the open house events at other private schools has provided some ideas for your own events this year. As always, keep the focus on your students—both current and future—and your school’s mission
Join the conversation by subscribing to ISM’s Admission Directors e-List!
Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 1 How to Get Your Faculty Ready for Open House
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. 11 No. 3 'Tis the Season for Service ... And Open Houses