Six Ways to Welcome New Families Into the Fold

Vol. 14 No. 8

admissions eletter Vol14 No8 welcome

New enrollment contracts enter the Admission Office each spring, bringing fresh faces and new hopes to the school community. But, your job as the Admission Director doesn’t end with enrollment! To assist with future re-enrollment, making sure your new families are as welcomed as possible within the new school community is vital. Try these six ways to make new students and their parents feel part of your school from Day One.

  1. After a family has accepted their admission invitation and formally enrolled in the school, the Admission Office should continue contacting the new student and parents to maintain excitement for the next school year. Wherever possible and appropriate, consider addressing mail to the student, with information that he or she would find particularly relevant or exciting and a personal note from a school contact the student would recognize. For example, if a new student is a skilled musician, perhaps send her the brochure for your summer program’s band camp or a local community music festival with a handwritten sticky note telling the student that you thought of her when the brochure crossed your desk.
  2. Formal orientations for new families—parents and students alike—provide an organized dissemination of necessary information in an intimate enough format that doesn’t make parents feel as if they’re tossed a brochure and left to their own devices.
  3. “New Parent” special events sponsored and run by the school are a great way to introduce parents to the school community and its facilities. A picnic on the soccer fields, a family softball tournament, or a special “art night” of music and theater performances with seats specifically reserved for new families (either admitted or enrolled) can help reinforce the opportunities available to new students and serve as an introduction to faculty, families, and administrators.
  4. Parent Ambassadors—volunteers who serve as school “liaisons” to prospective families and donors—can be paired with new families to provide them with a familiar face at school functions and gatherings, as well as serving as a resource for common questions new folks may have.
  5. Make sure your School Head hosts a special presentation only for new families, during which the Head reiterates your school’s mission and how that mission shines through in the school’s work. While parents have already heard of your school’s mission and values, the Head can take this opportunity to go into more detail about the practical application of the mission in the daily life of the school. The Head can also use this presentation to establish the school’s expectations of the parent—annual giving, timeliness, support at home, and other mission-pertinent parent responsibilities—in a personal, clear way.
  6. As the new school year starts, make sure your Admission Office touches base with new students and their parents at least once in the first month of school. If there are any problems with the student’s integration into the school community, then the student or parent may feel more comfortable discussing such issues with you—the person they worked with during the admission process—than to another administrator. If nothing is wrong, the contact reinforces your school’s concern for the success of the individual student to the parents, engendering trust.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Admission Directors Vol. 12 No. 7 "Welcome!" Now What? —What You Send to Accepted Students
The Source for Admission Directors Vol. 12 No. 4 Current Families Welcome, Retain Students

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 30 No. 3 Focus on Your School's Unique Family Demographics
I&P Vol. 39 No. 2 Full Disclosure of Non-Tuition Expectations During Admission

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