Among their many duties, private school principals, administrators, and program directors should focus on strategies that will help them increase student enrollment and provide their school with a steady cash flow and profit.
Of course, the ultimate magnet for boosting student enrollment is providing high-quality education in a safe environment, but that’s not always enough.
It’s crucial for private schools to also communicate those and other benefits they offer to potential students, their families, and the local community at large.
So, if you’re among school professionals tasked with increasing student enrollment, here are nine practical tips that will help you increase student enrollment.
Do a Competitive Analysis of Other Schools
Whether your organization is establishing a new private school, taking over an already existing one, or trying to identify what your school can do to increase student enrollment, doing a competitive analysis of other schools in your area can generate priceless insights.
First, let’s point out that competition between schools, although good for educational outcomes, only got more intense as the schooling options became more diverse (government scholarships,charter schools, homeschooling, etc.).
Against this backdrop, private schools need to do everything they can to attract new students, and those efforts start with understanding local competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and the marketing strategies they use to increase student enrollment.
In other words, you should do a competitive analysis of other schools in your local area to better understand what your school needs to improve if it wants to stand out from the competition.
In broad terms, here’s how that’s done:
As you can see, the first step is to identify your competitors, which usually starts with googling something equivalent to “schools in my city.”
Of course, this initial search should be focused on your school’s educational level (e.g., elementary school, high school, etc.).
The next step is collecting important details on your school’s strongest competitors, such as the year they were established, their location, price, curriculum, the number of students, teaching staff profile, website, and social media channels.
After that, you should evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, which are often highlighted in the reviews and comments left by various parents and parent groups on different web forums.
This will allow you to identify your school’s competitive advantage, i.e., unique selling points.
Overall, when done properly, a competitive analysis of other schools in your area will provide invaluable insight into what competition your school is facing and what strategies it should use to increase student enrollment.
Create After-School Programs for Students
Whatever form it takes, your competitive analysis should also cover what kind of after-school programs your top competitors offer, followed by reviewing and creating your own that will bring added value to existing and prospective students.
A great after-school program can attract new students and their parents/caregivers to your school, i.e., increase student enrollment.
For starters, studies show that extracurricular programs significantly improve students’ attendance and academic performance while strengthening their future college applications.
Next, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that they also give some extra time to parents before they pick their kids up.
With that in mind, what type of after-school programs should your school go for?
Unsurprisingly, that will depend on students’ interests and preferences, as well as your school’s budget.
Since the list of potential programs could be a mile long, we’ll just give you a taste, and you can explore further.
Source: Science and Literacy
With so many possibilities, it’s important to survey the students’ interests and research your competition to see which programs would bring the most value to your school’s students and distinguish it from other schools.
Of course, organizing after-school programs and handling students’ registrations and parents’ payments can quickly become complex or even overwhelming.
That’s where today’s modern tools come in, like our online registration and payment software, Regpack.
It will enable you to easily create or customize registration forms and also allow you to securely process online payments for after-school programs.
All that’s left to do is research, review, and create different after-school programs that will provide great value for existing and future students, which can be crucial for increasing student enrollment.
Be Active in Your Local Community
As the majority of prospective students will come from local communities in the areas surrounding the schools, it’s logical that private schools should build a great reputation in those communities to increase student enrollment.
In other words, your school should be active locally, both by hosting its own events and participating in community events such as fairs, festivals, and parades.
Another activity your local community will surely appreciate is volunteering in charity events like fundraisers, park cleanups, donating to food banks, tree planting, etc.
Similar to after-school programs, such activities not only bring invaluable experiences to students but also help the community and enhance your school’s recognition and reputation, like in this example.
Source: Greenfield Reporter
Of course, students can also earn extra credits for their volunteering work, thus also enhancing their academic performance.
One more thing: whenever your school participates in local community events, it should ensure that its brand is visible.
For instance, students involved in volunteering should wear school colors (caps, t-shirts, hoodies, etc.).
Similarly, selling school-branded clothing is great for different fundraising activities, which, at the same time, ensures your school’s brand will be worn across the community.
Overall, being active in your local community, participating and/or organizing different events, volunteering, and charity actions is an excellent way for your school to build a great reputation and increase student enrollment.
Ensure Your School Appears in Local Searches
Of course, as we’ll discuss below, having a school website is a must.
However, even the best website won’t do much to increase student enrollment if prospective students and their families can’t find it.
Luckily, there is a free and quick way to ensure your school will show up in location-specific searches and maps, and that’s to register your school on Google Business Profile.
This free Google service will allow potential students, as well as their parents/guardians, and family members to find your school when they search for schools in their local area.
The registration process usually takes about 15-20 minutes if you’re entering the basic info about your school.
It might take a bit more if you want to add more content, such as photos, posts, or videos to your school’s business profile.
Overall, ensuring your school appears in local searches by registering on Google Business Profile is a free, easy, and quick way to raise the school’s visibility in your local community and increase student enrollment.
Build a Great School Website
As said above, building a great school website is essential for attracting more students and parents to your school.
You should think of it as the primary marketing tool for presenting your school and increasing student enrollment because, nowadays, we can safely say that any search for prospective schools starts with students and parents visiting the school’s website.
Therefore, the content on your school’s website should be optimized for search engines to rank higher when potential clients look up, for instance, “schools near me.”
Additionally, the website should also be optimized for mobile devices, meaning that its contents should be equally well displayed whether parents and students access it over their smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet.
As for your school’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and what that would entail, there’s simply not enough room here to address them, but you can learn more in an article shown below, courtesy of SchoolMint.
In simple terms, potential clients who google, for example, “best schools in my city” will get different results than just searching for “schools in my city,” and the position your school website takes in such cases will depend on many factors, all of which are part of SEO.
In summary, building a great school website and optimizing it for mobile devices and search engines is the number one way to present everything your school offers, thus attracting more prospective students and parents.
Automate Your Lead Nurturing Emails
Even though your school website might be well-optimized enough to attract potential students and parents to visit it, that doesn’t mean your efforts will translate into more enrollments.
In other words, when potential clients visit the school website, they should be compelled to volunteer their contact information, which can then be used to build relationships with them by sending lead nurturing emails like educational offers, reminders, or shorter blog posts.
That way, if your school has, for example, 25 new first grade seats, you will already have a list of potential candidates who are familiar with and interested in enrolling their first graders.
Keep in mind that many people are wary of giving their email address and other info to someone they still don’t know.
Therefore, they should be offered something of value in exchange for their contact information.
In the marketing world, those things of value that you offer to potential clients are called lead magnets, such as the one shown below.
Source: École Saint-Landry School
As you can see, this French immersion school will send an info package to any potentially interested parents and, as an additional incentive, a free coloring book for their children.
Of course, there are other lead magnets that can be offered on your website, such as different guides, e-books, or webinars concerning the topics parents or caregivers would find valuable enough to volunteer their contact information.
Once you have their info, your school can automate sending lead nurturing emails to prospective clients, thus building relationships with them in advance and creating solid foundations for increasing student enrollment.
Have an Active Social Media Presence
This section goes together with having a great school website and ensuring that it will rank high when students and parents look for prospective schools.
Since almost all students and parents use social media nowadays, having an active social media presence is a must for increasing student enrollment, as it can help schools present what they’re about and attract more attention from potential clients.
In other words, schools can use their social media accounts on, for example, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, to share their story and post content (e.g., text, videos, images) that showcases what they offer to students and their parents.
Here’s an example.
Of course, if your school has little or no experience with social media management, it’s best to start by creating engaging content on just one platform to avoid being overwhelmed.
As for which social platform to start with, school marketing expert Ellie Diamond says:
Facebook is a great way of reaching parents, and Instagram really shines as a way to target students. Keep those audiences in mind when crafting posts.
When it comes to the type of content your school should post, the best results for increasing student enrollment are achieved through a combination of posts, videos, and images generated by the school and its followers, i.e., students and parents.
Ask Families to Review Your School Online
After potential students and parents check your school website and social media, the next thing they’ll probably do is search for online reviews posted by your school’s existing students and family members.
Consequently, asking them to review your school online is a great way to boost student enrollment, as good reviews and testimonials provide social proof that your school is their best option.
Simply put, when deciding on something, people overwhelmingly prefer to rely on the input and experiences of their families and friends.
Other than that, online reviews posted by students and parents come right after and can also play a major role in making the final decision.
As there is little room to explore this subject in depth, we’ll let school marketing professionals tell you more, courtesy of Constant Contact.
Source: Constant Contact
Of course, your Google Business Profile and/or Facebook Business Page, both of which are free, can also be counted as review sites, so responding to both positive and negative reviews posted on them should be among your priorities.
In summary, you should encourage existing students and their families to post online reviews on web forums and social media, as potential clients often consider them proof that your school is what they’re looking for.
Survey Families at the End of Each School Year
Last but not least, your school should survey existing students and their families at the end of each school year as a way of gaining valuable insights about what needs to be improved to increase student enrollment.
First, even the current students attending your school can leave if they or their parents are unsatisfied, which can also cause problems when trying to attract new students.
Therefore, it’s better to conduct regular end-of-school-year family satisfaction surveys to determine what your school is doing right and what aspects could be improved.
If efforts are invested in making such improvements, that can ultimately lead to retaining more existing students and attracting more new ones to your school.
As this is yet another topic that deserves a more in-depth explanation, we’ll again refer you to an article by SchoolMint.
Keep in mind that when students and their families are surveyed anonymously, they will be much more likely to point out potential issues.
Such honest feedback can provide valuable insights into what needs to be improved for students and parents to be more satisfied.
Of course, following through on those improvements will raise the overall quality of services your school provides and ultimately increase student enrollment.
Overall, these nine tips for increasing student enrollment can seem like a lot to handle all at once.
However, your school can start slowly by selecting those you find relevant while being mindful of the fact that attracting new students is, just like education, a long process that can be accelerated by strategically employing these tips.