Re-enrollment Communication 101
Vol. 13 No. 6
It’s that time of year again: re-enrollment. Images of you chasing tardy families down the street waving paper contracts might spring to mind. The struggle to underscore the importance of deadlines to your school community—only for them to tell you that they didn’t know the deadline and its importance!—may haunt your dreams.
To avoid these night terrors, try these communication strategies to encourage your parents to enroll on time. Ranging from gentle reminders to downright entertaining videos, we’ve got a solution for just about every school.
- Mass email reminders and follow up with personal notes. A group email is a good way to jog everyone’s memory about the deadline. Try following up a group email with a personal note to each family that has struggled in the past with timeliness; it might open up communication with your office about potential issues sooner rather than later. (Including a link to the Web page devoted to re-enrollment in your email signature won’t hurt, either.)
- Take advantage of the school's already established quick communication systems. The same text program that automatically messages every family could also be used to remind them of the upcoming re-enrollment deadline. Such a message would reach users quickly and effectively, as most reflexively check their text messages, even as some may screen emails.
- Use school newsletters and PTA meetings!
- Have parent-leaders in the school community share the deadline via word-of-mouth to other families. The importance of timely re-enrollment carries better when it’s a third party who delivers the message, rather than your office which is “invested” in the outcome.
- Place a targeted social media advertisement on your school community’s social platform of choice, containing a link to the page of your website dedicated to re-enrollment. Prices can vary, of course, and it might be more expensive than alternative methods, but weigh that price against how much timely re-enrollment is worth to your school and office.
- Messenger pigeons and smoke signals. Okay, maybe not, but wouldn't it be neat if they were a possibility?
- Hand-addressed letters mailed through the postal service. Taking the time to personally address envelopes—even if the inside letter is typed—elevates the importance of the contents to the recipient, far more than generic mailing labels could. For added personalization and urgency, consider adding a Post-It note, underscoring your office’s dedication to personally assist the family through this process if necessary.
- Sync the school's calendar with families' wireless ones. If your school has an up-to-date online calendar, add the re-enrollment deadline to it. Parents can sync their mobile device's personal calendar with the school's to make sure they don't miss any important events like their students' play—or the contract renewal.
If you’re especially creative, try our final suggestion: Send a video to your parents about the re-enrollment deadline featuring your school’s faculty and staff! Madison Country Day School in Waunakee, Wisconsin, did so in this 45-second “silent movie” as part of a video update to their parents. It's gotten great feedback (and a fair few chuckles!) from families.
How has your school communicated with parents during re-enrollment season? Share ideas with your peers in the comment section below!
Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 9 Perpetual Enrollment: Is It Right for Your School?
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 3 Re-enrollment as Re-recruitment
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 13 No. 4 4 Reasons Why You're Chasing Re-enrollments
ISM Monthly Update for School Heads Vol. 8 No. 6 It's Re-enrollment Time. How Do You Deal With A Difficult Parent?
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 2 Problematic Parents and the Enrollment Process