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The purpose of my job at Prizmah and that of my colleagues is to support, help, and guide Jewish day schools however we can. Ironically, in all of my partnerships with schools, it is I who have learned so much from them, especially pertaining to recruitment and retention. Growing enrollment is not one-size-fits-all, but I have discovered that there are certain strategies that every school can and should adopt (in no particular order):

 

  1. Head of School support and involvement in recruitment and retention is critical. Yes, the admission professional is the driver and implementer of most things pertaining to R and R, but without the input and empowerment from the leadership, success will dwindle. For starters, the admission professional and HOS should meet weekly, the admission professional should be a part of the leadership team, and the HOS should encourage and allow the admission professional to give regular reports at board meetings. Enrollment is a priority for all schools, so let it be known and shown.
  2. Know your audience. Who are your best target audiences for recruitment and where are they? Do your research so that you can best determine markets with the best potential for growth. Then, when you know target markets, you can start determining messaging statements. Know what each audience is looking for in choosing a school for their child, and cater that message as appropriate.    
  3. Young parents today go straight to the internet to learn about anything and everything. Be sure that your school’s website shares your story of who you are, is easy to navigate, and allows for parents to efficiently request a tour, apply online, and re-enroll. Your website should be a low barrier access to entry and information for both prospective and current families.
  4. Your customer is your greatest ally and friend in getting the word out about your school! Your parents are the best ambassadors in sharing their unique and positive experiences at your school. Be sure that they are well-equipped to be confidently talking about your school in the community, whether at a mommy-and-me group, the grocery store, or gym. A “formalized” ambassador program takes time and strategy, but its return on investment is well worth it.
  5. Whether good or bad, social media, in all its glory, has become an ever-more-necessary tool over the years for marketing, storytelling, and awareness of just about everything. Its greatest asset is that it has the ability to reach hundreds of people through social networks, reliably and efficiently. Make sure that the content shared through any social media channel (FB, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, etc) is relevant, purposeful, and consistent.
  6. It is easy for an admission professional to feel the weight of increasing enrollment on his/her shoulder, but no one person can or should be solely responsible. Every person in the school is responsible for its delivery and success.
  7. As the old saying goes, “you can’t manage what is not measured.” Data tracking and reporting is foundational. Data allows you to make well-informed, strategic decisions. The more data that is tracked the better, but for starters you should be tracking your admission funnel data including inquiries, tours, applications, acceptances, enrollments, and matriculations. Data tracking software is definitely an investment, but one that will provide your school direction and support in recruitment and retention.
  8. Admission Directors/Enrollment Managers need to be trained and continue to seek professional development opportunities. There is always room for learning and growth, and the school leadership should be advocates for the admission professional as well as other leadership team members.  
  9. Customer experiences reflect heavily on the entire school. All parent interactions with your school should be positive, honest, and timely. Whether we like it or not, families are investing in a product when they choose your school. Not only that, but a strong customer experience fosters loyal, satisfied customers who become your greatest ambassadors for recruitment and retention.
  10. Never lose sight of who you are and always have in mind your school’s mission.