4 Reasons Why You’re Chasing Re-enrollments
Vol. 13 No. 3
You’ve begged. You’ve pleaded. You’ve called and emailed and sent letters. You’ve done everything but hire a plane to write messages in the sky. But you can’t get your current parents to re-enroll on time! Knowing many of you struggle with this issue, we asked one of our ISM Consultants to provide some insight into the annoying—and costly—problem of perpetually late re-enrollment.
1. Parents don’t understand why it’s important.
Families must be educated about the re-enrollment process and the important role it plays in driving enrollment interest among mission-appropriate prospective families. Promoting a culture of full enrollment—complete with waiting pools—drives acceptance standards higher and higher, which then drives student outcomes higher and higher.
Consistent, timely re-enrollment benefits current students as well as future ones. If parents don’t know this “why” of mission-based enrollment decision-making, they may not understand how important their role is. Educating parents on how they can make the school more successful by turning in their re-enrollment contracts on time—thus ensuring the best education possible for their children—should help alleviate this school-culture issue of tardiness.
2. Parents may not think you’re worth it.
If parents are waiting to return the re-enrollment contract until they absolutely have to, they are sending a message to the school that they are unconvinced this is the right school for their children. By not guaranteeing a place at your school, they could be hedging their bets—waiting to see if a better educational solution presents itself.
3. The school's expectations of parents haven’t been established.
The school’s expectations of parents—including timely return of documents and contracts—may not have been clearly articulated to families. This could result in the delay, as parents don’t see it as their “job” to return things on time.
The school must clearly explain to families how parents partner with the school during initial meetings, in the handbook, and throughout other interactions. If school leadership is forced to track down errant re-enrollment contracts, then that’s time not spent promoting the school’s mission—and parents must understand that.
4. The school may be a victim of its own enabling culture.
If, year after year, parents come to expect that the Admission Director will call to remind them to return the re-enrollment contract, then they will eventually become conditioned to wait for the call before doing anything about the contract.
Of course, it’s easy to say, “Don’t become a crutch,” but it's another issue entirely to execute it in practice. If the message of parent partnership and responsibility with the school hasn’t been consistently and clearly related to parents in the past, then this “sudden switch” may confuse or even anger families used to more lenient practices.
One way to help with that may be incentives, provided on the timely return of a re-enrollment culture. To avoid creating yet another “culture of inappropriate expectation” on the part of parents, however, consider messaging your incentive as an opportunity to avoid paying a late penalty, rather than a “discount” for turning the contract in on time. (After all, that’s what they’re supposed to do in the first place!)
Chasing down re-enrollment contracts takes time, money, and resources that your office could be spending on other things, like finding new families or planning events. Hopefully the next time you find yourself waiting for re-enrollment contracts, they’re late in the mail—not late being read!
Additional ISM resources:
Research: 2012 Annual ISM Re-enrollment Survey: Analysis of Results
Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 9 Perpetual Enrollment: Is It Right for Your School?
Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 3 Re-enrollment as Re-recruitment
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 38 No. 4 Waiting Pools: Base Enrollment on Class Needs and Mission
I&P Vol. 38 No. 2 Who Is Responsible for Enrollment Management?
I&P Vol. 36 No. 5 The Enrollment Management Cycle