Your new student enrollment form is an often overlooked, but critical tool that you can use to improve your school’s recruitment efforts. Though the primary goal of the new student information form is primarily administrative, with just a few tweaks and additional questions, it becomes a very powerful source of information for your future marketing efforts. By adding three simple questions to your student enrollment form, you will begin to gather data that will benefit your school in multiple ways.
1.) Ask the parent to identify all the children in the family and what school/preschool they currently attend.
Gathering this information allows you to identify by name and age, all the siblings that will become your targets for recruitment in subsequent years. I know that the inclination and default is that these kids will naturally come to your school, but do not take any child’s enrollment for granted! Once you have these names entered into your prospect database, you are better able to forecast your sibling attendance and it allows you to create more personalized outreach to these siblings. Additionally, if you are seeing patterns of certain ages of siblings not enrolling, it gives you some nice insight into a trend that you should investigate.
For the students who are too young to attend your school, there are lots of little things you can do to actively nurture relationships and ensure that they will enroll in your school.
- Have the kindergarten teacher(s) send the younger child a Christmas or Birthday card.
- Invest in t-shirts that will fit a smaller child and provide that as a gift with “Future Student of X School” on them. You would be shocked at how much goodwill a free t-shirt can buy you.
- If you are a parochial school, consider a congratulations card for Baptisms.
Knowing how many of your siblings attend a specific preschool also gives you a very strong talking point when you are attempting to solidify feeder relationships. Many preschools are challenging to partner with, and it becomes very powerful when you can tell the preschool director that 10 of her students have siblings that attend your school. That helps her to understand the benefits of partnering.
2.) How did they hear about your school?
Asking this is critical! Knowing which tactic was successful in bringing them to your school allows you to understand what programs are working and what is not. Some schools who take a more sophisticated approach will do a new parent survey, where they ask all the different channels that a parent interacted with on their journey to enroll. You don’t need to be that precise if you are just starting out. Just get the main source.
Many parents will answer “word of mouth” when you ask this question. When you get this answer always include the follow up question: “Who should we thank for referring you to our school?” If you are starting to see certain family names consistently mentioned, consider tapping those families for a parent ambassador program. This also gives you the opportunity to publicly recognize these families as being critical in helping your school’s enrollment.
3.) Where do the parents work and what do they do?
Identifying professions and the companies of your parent base has tons of benefits which i covered in a previous article. Imagine planning your next big event, and you are actively looking for sponsors. Being able to quickly scan the database of parents and their companies allows you to make targeted asks for support. Who owns a business that can offer goods and services? Who works as a senior executive that might be able to support monetarily? Now you know.
When you are trying to find volunteers, having this information is incredibly helpful. There are certain activities where you just need a warm body; setting up chairs, manning a food booth, etc., but as you look to improve more strategic functions like your social media strategy or revamping your website, it would be a huge benefit if you knew that one of your parents owns or works for a digital marketing company.
Or if your school needs to secure a catering company for an upcoming event, wouldn’t it be great to use one of your parent’s restaurants?
Adding these three questions will not lengthen the forms too much, but the information you gain will be priceless to your school. It is hard to go back and ask parents to complete this information when they are already enrolled, but can always be done on forms when parents are registering their children for the next school year. Utilizing this data in a strategic way will help your recruitment in future years.
Nick LeRoy is the president of Bright Minds Marketing and former Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. Bright Minds Marketing provides marketing and recruitment consulting to private and charter schools. For information about how Bright Minds Marketing can help your school improve your marketing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 317-361-5255. You can also see examples of customer work at www.brightmindsmarketing.com