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Increase Student Enrollment – Understand the Value of Your School

8 Hacks to Increase Student Enrollment & RETENTION

Hack #1

Getting Started - Understanding the Value of Your School.


Introduction


Welcome to the first installment of our new blog series, 8 Hacks to Increase Enrollment.

There is no question that a thriving community of students and families is necessary to creating and maintaining a dynamic learning environment.  Healthy, growing enrollment has a direct, compounding effect on the level of services schools are able to provide their community.  As enrollment declines or remains stagnant, revenue constraints can quickly lead to difficult decisions into which areas might receive continued funding and which areas might require a reduction or elimination of programs.  This can make it very difficult for schools to confidently highlight their programs and remain competitive amongst other education options.


In this series, we will highlight key areas of focus for school leaders who are frequently tasked with multiple responsibilities and little remaining bandwidth to navigate the nuances of competitive, necessary marketing programs.  With this level of focus we aim to make optimal use of our readers limited, valuable time and provide practical, actionable resources to enhance your enrollment efforts.


In part 1 of this 8 part series, we will outline the foundational aspects of successful planning and execution, specifically two items: Gaining clarity into the aspects of your school that resonate the most with your community and thus deliver the most value.  And how to build a high powered marketing team that contributes to highlighting these strengths and demonstrating the value to prospective and current families.



Understanding the Value of Your School:

Hack #1 Building Your Foundation


Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Possibly, the most important part of marketing planning is brainstorming the strengths and weaknesses of your school.  It provides great opportunity so slow down from operational responsibilities and reflect on exactly what makes your school so wonderful and why people should be excited to dive deeper into all it has to offer as well as identify areas of improvement that may hinder prospective parents from applying or retention of current families.  With that said, visitors to your school are likely evaluating other schools and programs and are rightfully focused on the similarities to ensure the core needs of their children are effectively met.  It is both in your interest and to their benefit that you can communicate a clear understanding of what separates your school from others.  Success in this area establishes a high degree of confidence in the services of your school and a strong sense of excitement that your school will offer a unique, premium experience.


Showcase Your Top Features

Now that your list is well developed, prioritize the strengths and weaknesses and dedicate time to examine them from the perspective of both a prospective and a current family.  Identify the top features that you feel would resonate most with the people who come through your doors.  Along those same lines, determine which features would be best to highlight in promotional efforts as well as how you might create an environment or event that would allow people to experience these special features first hand. Perhaps you might host an open house where prospective students can bring their own instruments and perform with the music instructor.  You might position your longest tenured teachers to engage with visitors and share their unique perspective from years of service.  You may choose to showcase your unique use of technology that demonstrates credibility and maturity of your operation compared to other schools that might rely on paper processes and clunky communications efforts.  As you can see, there are opportunities to get creative.  Identifying the features that bring value and that you are excited to share will greatly assist you building momentum to execute your marketing efforts.  


While discovering which items will resonate most with visitors is key, don’t neglect the importance of the remaining items on your original list. The full list will serve you well as you engage in deeper relevant discussions with prospective families looking for features that set your school apart.


As you reflect on your identified weaknesses, be sure to critically analyze any weaknesses that might be immediately noticeable to families.  In your marketing efforts, you will establish a number of processes and pathways to both inform people and collect information on their interests, including student registration and application data.  Shortcomings in these key processes are highly visible.  As such, employing credible, professional level data capture and mobilization processes will immediately inform visitors on the professionalism of your operation and your attention to critical details.



Build Your Team

We’ve touched on the notion that the competing responsibilities of school leaders face can easily restrict school marketing and enrollment growth efforts.  For that reason, leaders must embrace the notion that it cannot be done by one person.  Key duties must be delegated to competent, energetic staff and/or volunteers to really form a team effort.


There are 4 areas of focus to consider when matching the skills of your staff to the most appropriate role.

  • Event Planning
  • Communications
  • Data/Registrations
  • Relationship Building


We will review each of these areas in more depth throughout this series however, in the team building stage, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the basic functions of each role.


Event Planning

Hosting events that draw visitors is the lifeblood of an effective marketing effort.  On it’s own, this is a very large responsibility which often requires its own team, under the direction of your event planner to execute.  Responsibilities of this role cover all aspects of showcasing your school including, room reservation, decor, catering, organizing entertainment or areas of focus, equipment needs, and coordinating speakers among a variety of other duties.  Event planners are positioned to proactively handle issues and troubleshoot problems that might arise on event days.


Communications

In order to succeed in drawing foot traffic and getting the most out of your events, a well developed communications in necessary to ensure people are aware and informed.  Your communications manager will identify and manage the available channels as well as channels you might want to add.  Common channels include flyers, website, email, social, media, paid advertising, community groups, and more.


Data/Registrations

As you begin to communicate your events and encourage participation, you will want to decide on the most appropriate way to collect information about people visiting your school.  Having a record of who intends to visit is critical to meaningful follow ups.


It is highly recommended that technology be incorporated into your data collection efforts.  Using online registration or data captures systems prior to an event or even ipads or tablets that are connected to a reputable system on-site at events gives people a first hand impression of the sophistication level of your school.  Using technology in data collection provides great opportunity to showcase the professionalism and credibility of your school as well as collect meaningful information on your visitors.


Your data manager is someone who is comfortable working with data and data platforms and will work very closely with the communications manager to ensure potential visitors have a clear path the registration and identifying interests.



Relationship Building

Your relationship manager benefits from the successful execution of communications, events, and data collection by analyzing visitors and the interests they’ve expressed.  The valuable information gained from your teams efforts can now be leveraged to warmly reach out after events have concluded.  Your relationship manager is positioned to engage in relevant discussions that address the expressed interests of visitors including:

  • Music Performances
  • Art Shows
  • Athletic Events
  • Science Open Houses
  • School Visits showcasing a specific class/method/teacher

Conclusion


With your best assets identified, a plan to mitigate known weaknesses, and your team positioned to their appropriate skill set, you are now prepared to develop the details of your marketing efforts with excitement, confidence and momentum.  As we proceed in this series, next we will review the key elements of understanding your target audience and designing an effective promotion plan to reach that audience.


Stay tuned!


Our next edition in the series is entitled, "Know your Audience Part 1 - External Promotion". We would love to hear from you as to what aspects of promotion you find most challenging or interesting. Please complete the brief survey. Your input will be incorporated in our next series installment! If you've liked our content, please share this post with your fellow colleagues!



Need a Solution to Too Many School Software Programs?

School software programs solution

K-12 Online provides schools with a solution to streamline multiple processes.

If you’re a school administrator, chances are your school has many software programs to assist with administrative duties in addition to your student information system. Maybe your school has an online payment solution that allows students and parents to make purchases at home or on the go. Your school may have a program that keeps track of which students have fees and fines to pay. You may have another system that manages your tuition.  Perhaps your school uses an online service to carry out registration each year or your school may be using a combination of several online programs.

Whether your school uses one or many online programs to handle administrative duties, there are often issues involved with these programs. Here are some of the challenges schools face when transitioning to an online process:

  1. Confusion as to how potential new programs would overlap and integrate with the ones currently in use
  2. Fear that staff members will find it difficult to learn so many different software programs for the various purposes
  3. Fear that parents will resist accessing one program for one thing, another program for another thing and yet another program for something else.

Schools that are already making use of multiple software programs often have excessive siloed programs. When none of the programs “talk to” each other, staff members are faced with inconvenience, confusion, and plenty of lost time because:

  1. Parts of data are found in certain programs and not in others
  2. Redundant data entry is required since the programs are not connected
  3. Each program needs its own training and comes with its own technical challenges

Isn’t your time more valuable than this?

Here at K-12 Online, our goal is to help you free up valuable time by providing you and your parents with a comprehensive online solution that encompasses student application, registration, student information handling, online payments (including tuition, fees, and fines) all in one simple, powerful user interface. It’s costly and tedious to spend time learning several programs that each perform just one of the many tasks that schools have computerized. By streamlining these programs, you rid your staff of these unnecessary menial tasks which will free up time for you and your staff members to focus on more important activities that benefit the school and its students.

From your parents’ perspective, a seamless, painless solution that handles everything without having them jump through hoops, such as creating multiple accounts for the multiple programs just to apply or register their children, creates a positive user experience and a welcoming environment, sending parents the message that your school values their time.

With K-12 Online, you’ll be able to immediately eliminate paperwork, streamline your online processes, and optimize student enrollment for maximum efficiency. For administrators and teachers alike, it often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, especially if many of those hours are occupied by menial tasks like data entry into online programs. So we’ve created a one-stop shop so that you can devote more time into doing what matters.

Unreliable online programs and unpleasant user experiences can exhaust administrators, frustrate teachers, and deter prospective families. Don’t let inefficient and ineffective programs waste you any more time and money! Learn how you can become a student-centered school by scheduling a demo today at https://k12online.us/contact/request-a-demo/ or downloading a private school case study at https://k12online.us/yellowstone-academy-case-study/.

Private Schools: Incorporating Online Application Systems

Does your private school have an online application system? The ease of enrollment affects whether a parent will even bother to apply to a school. If the enrollment experience is pleasant, it creates a good first impression of the school. It shows that the school cares and has made the effort to create a pleasant experience. It also demonstrates that the school is at the cutting edge of technology and implies that this would also be evident in the classroom.

The K-12 Online student application, enrollment, and registration system allows students to submit their entire application, including essays and personal statements, online. This process saves paper and resources. Parents can even scan and upload pictures and documents that are part of their application. When they hit the submit button, their application is sent. No papers, no postage! Continue reading

Why Catholic Schools are Drawn to K-12 Online

A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 parents are considering switching their child(ren) from a traditional large public school environment to a Catholic school. Many parents feel that smaller schools have a clear academic focus and vision for high quality successful learning, while in a public school, children can easily get lost in the large, impersonal system.

 

With this change in mindset from parents, comes an increase in student applications for small schools.  Unlike the public school system that is required by law to accept all children, Catholic schools typically have an admission and acceptance process. Traditional procedures for handling applications and enrollment can be one of the most burdensome, costly, outdated and environmentally wasteful processes.  For that reason, many schools and districts are turning to online registration.  Online registration has proven to be extremely valuable, saving time and money, especially for Catholic schools.

 

Many small schools believe that online registration is just too costly, however, K-12 Online is the first company to offer affordable online solutions that cater to small schools.  Although the web-based application is designed for schools large and small, public and private, the product offers a solution for those districts and schools that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

 

Catholic schools are drawn to K-12 Online, not only for its affordability, but also for its assistance in increasing school donations.  Most Catholic schools rely heavily on fundraising in order to provide their teachers and students with the best learning environment possible. Therefore, a registration system that incorporates fundraising can prove valuable, help make money for the school, and in many cases, even pay for itself. K-12 Online offers several options for donations to be collected through the school web store or by linking a “Donate Now??? button from the school’s website. Schools that have used K-12 Online as a method of collecting donations have seen an increase in overall donations by 30%!

 

K-12 Online offers a complete online student registration software application that transforms the student application & enrollment process by eliminating expensive paper-based methods. They even offer payment plan options to small schools, making it an AFFORDABLE option to helping schools save money, time and resources!

Judging by your track record

Year after year, schools enroll new students. For public schools, the process is a little less rigorous, but for most private schools, each student has to go through some sort of application process that determines their ability to succeed in that environment. An essay, teacher recommendations…something to help determine if they are “acceptable”. Whether public or private, all students start the school year off with a track record – all the facts that make up the student’s academic story.

But do educators equally judge the students they serve? More often than not, those with acceptable track records are not judged on their past, but on their potential. Interestingly enough, those with tarnished records are not judged on their potential but on their past. Is that fair to the student? Don’t all students have the potential to succeed? Does a student’s track record measure who they will turn out to be or do they grow to measure up to their track record?

In any case, a student’s file might suggest potential, but it doesn’t determine success. Educators play a huge role in helping to shape the success of a child. We’ve heard multiple stories from successful adults about the “teacher that changed their life” – the educator that saw their potential and helped them realize it, too.

Although difficult, teachers must see the potential in every child they serve. They must see that there is room for growth in each child in order to believe that there is greater potential. And more than that, they must make the child believe it! A fixed mindset cannot function in a world of potential because the fixed mindset doesn’t value the search for better.

Potential includes the achievements just beyond what a student has already done. However, to truly work towards attaining that next best level of growth, one needs to value getting to the next level more than they value the one they have already attained. This does not always come natural for a child. Helping a child discover his or her potential is an exercise in finding and pushing their limits.

Success can only be achieved through effort, willpower, resilience, perseverance, and grit. Yes, grades and test scores are important, but without the aforementioned, one cannot consistently find success nor discover their true potential.

Many will argue that it’s the parents’ job and that the seed of success is planted at home. The reality is that not every student has the most ideal, supportive family life. Statistics show troubling numbers of children nationwide who don’t receive even the basic needs of survival, such as food and shelter, from their “home life”. When a child’s reality is a life you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy or they are living through a situation you can’t begin to fathom because it seems so out of the realm of civility, how do you expect them to thrive and believe in themselves at school? The process to begin tackling these issues is so multifaceted, and of course there is not one concrete solution, so as an educator what do you do? Do you just throw your hands up and say oh well if they are not getting the support they need at home, there is nothing I can do about it at school?

Tomorrow you will get another chance to help your students discover their own potential. Will you be the inspiration they need?

Let us know. What do you do to inspire your students to reach their potential?

Fundraising: How Online Registration Helps

A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 parents are considering switching their child(ren) from a traditional large public school environment to a smaller (independent, private, charter, religious) school. Parents feel that smaller schools have a clear academic focus and vision for high quality successful learning, while in the public school system, there is a greater gap in achievement between socioeconomic classes, more violence and higher dropout rates, and children can easily get lost in the large, impersonal system.

This can become tricky for smaller schools, because unlike the public school system that is required by law to accept all children, smaller schools typically have an admission and acceptance process. This increase in student applicants can be one of the most costly, outdated and environmentally wasteful processes that small schools endure every year. With the help of an online registration system, small schools have the ability to not only save money, but also generate it though fundraising.

A registration system that incorporates fundraising can prove valuable, help make money for the school, and in many cases, even pay for itself. With the economic downturn and flailing economy, it is necessary for smaller schools to identify processes that can be improved or optimized to generate funds through SAVINGS.

K-12 Online offers a complete online student registration software application that transforms the student application & enrollment process by eliminating expensive paper-based methods. Offering online access to customizable forms and reports, K-12 Online™ is an AFFORDABLE system that will help your school with fundraising in addition to saving money, time and resources!

School Management Software for private schools, charter schools and public schools

According to D’Agostino, K-12 Online, the school management software, benefitted his school in ways he never even thought of.

Principal Phil D’Agostino’s Costa Mesa High school piloted K-12 Online this past year. According to D’Agostino, K-12 Online, the school management software, benefitted his school in ways he never even thought of. Here are just a few of the benefits of this safe and secure, paperless educational technology.

The school management system is able to report the online registration progress of students. It will show which students have actually started to register. Right in the middle of the summer, we could flag students who had not started the registration process and call them. We would have a better idea of our master schedule in the middle of the summer rather than the week before school. We could then hire staff accordingly.

The online registration system also has the ability to send messages to the safe and secure parent and student portal so when students logged in to enroll, they could take care of business before going through the registration line during registration week such as pay for lost text and library books which can be a huge savings for schools.

When students return during registration day, they only have one signed form to return. It’s virtually paperless. The school management software has the ability to check-in students so we lined up 5 terminals and had staff accept the form and check them in. The students then proceeded to pick up their ASB items, take their school picture and pick up their books. It was so fast, we had no lines at 9.00am, a half hour into registration. The system once again was able to report who had actually checked in so follow-up calls could be made.

This school management system has made registration so efficient that next year, the number of registration days will be reduced, saving the school money and allowing the staff to get back to their offices and prepare for the start of school!

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