Private school recruitment teams have a lot of methods to choose from to promote their school and win over prospective students.
As anyone who has ever handed out flyers knows, some techniques are just more impactful than others.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the five of the best tactics you can apply to your recruitment strategy immediately so that your next admissions season is the best one yet.
- Highlight the Value of Your School
- Be Active in Your Community
- Host Virtual Events for Students
- Use Your Alumni Network
- Offer Students Mental Health Support
Highlight the Value of Your School
Private schools need to focus on highlighting their value to make themselves stand out from the competition and recruit more students.
Every recruitment team should come up with a short and convincing unique selling proposition (USP)—1-3 sentences explaining why their school is better than others.
These are the three key characteristics of an optimal USP:
|It’s something your school does exceptionally well.|
|It’s something your target students want.|
|Most other schools struggle to deliver this result.|
A well-crafted USP will help you win students who are stuck deciding between you and another ostensibly similar school.
They’ll be able to tell how you are different from the other school and why that’s beneficial to them.
Let’s look at some hypothetical examples.
A private school with an exceptionally high college admission rate to top schools might use the USP “75% of our graduates go on to attend a top 100 college.”
Another with students who score absurdly high on their SATs might use that as fodder for their USP, writing something like “Our students score in the 80th percentile in the SAT”.
On the other hand, a college might focus on the way they help students jumpstart their careers or establish connections with successful people.
Once you’ve created your USP, put it on the homepage of your school’s website, as well as other high-converting pages like your Contact Us or Admissions page.
Here’s an example of Ithaca College’s USP on their Admissions page:
Their promise is to help their students become the best version of themselves through ongoing mentorship.
Mentoring is something most colleges don’t offer, so this is a great way for them to shine.
Also, include it in your email marketing campaigns and your other marketing methods for increased enrollment.
When you’re coming up with ways to position yourself in your space, one of the best tricks is to think about the common complaints students have about other schools and then identify one of those areas in which your school uniquely excels.
For example, if a lot of your competitors have bad teacher-to-student ratios, but yours is better, you might use that fact as your USP.
Another way to find your USP is to ask current and past students why they chose to attend your school over the other schools.
This can be as simple as creating and emailing out a survey with a tool like Survey Monkey.
In sum, make sure that you’re always reminding potential students about how your school is going to provide them with more value than the other options.
Be Active in Your Community
Recruitment teams should be active in their local communities to meet and connect with potential students who live in the surrounding area.
For example, you could host community events on the school grounds, like a haunted house during Halloween, a concert in the summer, or a prospective students’ day during college application season.
If the event is interesting and well advertised, potential future students and their families will jump at the opportunity to come and check out the campus.
Not only does this give your team opportunities to get to know these potential students, but it also increases the chances that the students will fall in love with the school and its grounds.
Sometimes just walking through a stone archway and stepping out onto the manicured green park surrounded by brick buildings with white pillars is enough to convince a student that this is the place for them.
Source: Top Universities
It’s a good idea to host guided tours and offer special events where you educate students and parents about what it’s like to attend.
In addition to holding events, private schools should also partner with local institutions that will help them meet prospective students.
For example, a college might partner with local high schools and hold presentations in the auditorium to teach students about the opportunities at their University.
You could also partner with the following groups:
As long as a group has relationships with a lot of prospective students, it’s worthwhile trying to form a mutually beneficial partnership with them.
Sometimes all you’ll have to do is provide a good experience.
For instance, a tutoring business might let you come in and present to the young people using their services because it helps their students learn about schools, which makes the parents—the people paying for the tutoring service—quite happy.
Well-orchestrated partnerships are beneficial to all parties.
In this case, the students get the information they need, your school gets advertising and sales opportunities, and the business gets brownie points with their customers.
In sum, becoming active in your community, hosting events, and forming partnerships will help you improve your recruitment numbers in the short and long run as your brand image becomes more well-known.
Host Virtual Events for Students
Bringing prospective students together to learn about your school and meet each other and your team is a great way to boost enrollment.
But not all of your events have to be in person. Ever since the pandemic, people have become more open to attending virtual events. Some even favor it.
A Future of Events survey by vFAIRS found that 77.2% of the customers prefer virtual events because they are more convenient to attend than in-person ones.
This opportunity to take part in such events is especially important for potential students that live far away from your school, namely, international ones.
Students, and their parents, won’t have to pay for gas or air travel to get to your school for big-impact recruitment events like Open Students Day.
Though it’s essential to still have a day where students can visit the campus, tour the school, and attend in-person lectures about various programs, you should also give students the option to get that same experience from their computers.
Yale has a series of virtual events, including this one that allows prospective students to watch presentations covering academic life, admissions, affordability, and more:
It’s also a good idea to host webinars for prospective students, where they can learn about things like the admissions process, the different majors your school offers, student housing options, and more.
For greater reach, record the live webinar and then put it up on your website so that people can access it even if they missed the event.
USU has done this on its website:
Though it’s not necessarily an event, it’s also a good idea to simulate the touring process by using a virtual touring software like CloudPano to create a virtual tour that you can host on your website, as USU has done:
As always, be sure to promote your virtual events across various marketing channels, from social media to email.
And consider using a tool like Regpack to facilitate and manage your online registrations and increase attendance.
Use Your Alumni Network
Private schools should use their alumni network to recruit more students.
There’s a variety of ways to involve your alumni network in your recruitment initiatives, from encouraging alumni to share their experiences on social media to hiring them as guest speakers for your events.
For example, you could send out emails to your alumni asking them if they’d be interested in writing a short blurb about why they loved attending your school for a blog post your team is planning to share.
Even if you only get 20 quotes out of hundreds, that’s still enough to create a convincing blog post.
After you publish it, you can reach back out to your contributors and ask them to share the post on their social media channels.
The beauty of this strategy is how little effort on your part is required. The alumni have basically written the article and done a lot of the active marketing for you.
Prospective students in your network will then read the post and see how great your school is.
If motivated enough, they might even reach out to the alumni who shared the article in order to ask them more about your school.
To streamline this approach, you could also reach out to your alumni and ask them to publish a few posts straight to social media, but you won’t get an evergreen blog out of it.
Not to mention, unless you’re paying them, people are often more likely to comply with a request to contribute to an article than to publish posts promoting your school directly to their feed.
Test out both and see what works.
They both might bring you fabulous results. If you want to work with alumni on a consistent basis, here’s a guide on how to market your school with alumni influencers.
Along with asking them to promote your school to their network, ask successful alumni you have a great relationship with to serve as guest speakers at your virtual or in-person events.
California Lutheran University has a page on its website where alumni can sign up to be guest speakers:
Source: California Lutheran University
You can easily share this page with interested alumni, or include it in your emails to alumni you think would be a good fit. It makes signing up a breeze.
During the presentations, your alumni can talk about their experience and explain how it helped them get to where they are today in their careers.
Hearing this will get students excited about your school and the opportunities ahead of them.
In sum, leveraging the influence of your past students is a great way to enhance your recruitment efforts with credible testimonials and excited, influential personalities.
Offer Students Mental Health Support
As mental health continues to be an issue among students, private schools can make themselves more valuable to prospective attendees by offering services that support mental health.
In fact, 60.3% of surveyed prospective students say that the availability of mental health services is a very important factor in their decision-making process about which school to attend.
Students want to know there are people on the school grounds who can help them get through the hard times that come with transitioning into adulthood amidst the pressures of studies and social life.
Examples of such mental health resources include the following:
|Individual therapy sessions|
|Group therapy sessions|
|Ongoing psychiatry services|
|Virtual self-help programs|
|24/7 emergency crisis support|
|Required mental health courses|
Most schools with these services create a page on their website where students can easily schedule appointments and find information about mental health support.
You can see how Tulane’s Counseling Center webpage does so below:
It’s important to make potential students aware of your mental health services, so every now and then promote them in your marketing emails and social media posts.
An added benefit of offering mental health support is that you’ll also improve your retention rates.
It’s heartbreaking how many students drop out because they don’t get the professional guidance they need when times get tough.
In sum, when you prove through your programs that your students’ mental well-being is a top priority, more will want to attend your private school.
For those already living with a mental health condition, it just might be the deciding factor.
Consistently increasing student enrollment year after year is essential to your private school’s financial well-being.
As a greater number of competitors enter the market, it’s important to diversify your recruitment plan by adding new and effective methods that meet students where they are, from asking your alumni network to promote your school on social media to hosting virtual info sessions.
To free up some time to think about and implement the above strategies, consider using an online registration tool that will automate the busy work, like sending out registration forms and entering student data into your system.