One thing that can disappoint me -- as a former teacher and as an educational marketing consultant -- is when school leaders or trustees don't connect the dots between the quality of the product (teaching and learning) and success in enrollment management and retention. Hard to fathom, but it happens. Usually the admission officer -- the chief revenue generator for the school -- gets sandwiched on this one!
What I'm talking about here is the misplaced belief that good sales and promotion will compensate for strategic or product weaknesses.
One of Connor Associates' services is the Image Audit we conduct with families who visited but didn't apply, families who were accepted but who did not enroll, and those who were invited to return but chose to go to another school.
The first are the ones who dated you and you never heard from again, the second group left you standing at the altar, and the third group essentially divorced you.
What the school hears when conducting admission funnel surveys or exit surveys on their own often centers on cost. No doubt that is a legitimate concern, particularly for families with multiple children in the school. But some of these families leave, only to enroll in other schools that are equally expensive.
Cost often hides a host of both substantive and communicative issues. When one digs deeper into confidential third-party conversations with these families about what factors influenced their decision, you often find there was a problem with the perception of or their actual experience of teaching and learning--the product. If you are depending on a cool website or brochure to attract them and keep them, you're only halfway there.
On September 26, 2014, The Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP) will host the second of a series of five webinars I'll be offering this fall on Essential Practices for Outstanding Enrollment Management. Sign up here and you'll also see a host of other professional development webinars offered by AISAP.
We'll discuss what you can do to make sure your teachers and your program are at the heart of your marketing. Last time I checked, parents and students sign up for and remain with schools that put their highest priority on transformative teaching and learning. The return on investment--ROI--will follow!