Do You Have the Tools & Resources to Ensure They Enroll?
A recent study completed by Galapagos Marketing studied research patterns surrounding school choice. The survey asked parents of children ages 5-18 in 66 counties throughout the Midwest if they researched a school before choosing it for their children and if so for how long. The study revealed that 68 percent of parents do, in fact, research before choosing a school. The research further indicated that of those 68 percent, 43 percent do research for a week or more.
It’s safe to assume that busy parents are committing this amount of time to research school choice because they believe their diligence is of the utmost importance. Deciding on the right school is a big decision for families, and one that we believe will continue to garner attention because of one simple reason: CHOICE.
As long as public schools, charter schools, private schools, and online learning academies continue to exist, parents will have a choice. Choice breeds the need for districts to be more competitive and at the ready to convert that researching parent to an enrolled student.
Sounds simple enough. But does your district have their best foot forward for the types of research are parents doing?
Our study indicated that parents were doing three primary types of research:
Touring school buildings: 77%
Visiting school web sites: 61%
Gathering advice from family and friends: 57%
Whether their students were in elementary, middle, or high school, the types of research conducted were consistent among parents with students of all ages.
Your Tour Experience
Seventy-seven percent of parents who researched schools before making a choice took a school tour. With the demand by consumers to make every experience a memorable one, school districts are feeling the pressure to make their tours more engaging, memorable, and most importantly, an experience that starts a school-family relationship that will last. Do your school tours leave prospective students and families feeling wowed and ready to start the enrollment process?
Your Web Site
It’s no surprise that a school’s web site comes into play during the decision-making process. Web sites continue to be a leading go-to for most of us when researching anything - from selecting what restaurant you’re going to have dinner at tonight, to choosing a school for your child. Many districts we have worked with do a great job of providing current parent information on their web site, but lack in providing prospects the type of information they seek and an easy flow of information to lead a family to enroll. Clear paths to information about enrollment, school culture, and setting up that important school tour, can help nudge prospective family’s interest. Providing and repeating the placements of your online registration tool prominently throughout your site can only make it easier for a family to commit.
Your District’s Ambassadors
From your most school-spirited families, to your staff and Board of Education, everyone can play a role in advocating for your district, boosting referrals throughout your community. The most powerful method is to educate and train your staff, especially those on the frontline. Letting your staff know not only their role in marketing the district, but what it means to market your district, can ensure that messages communicated both inside school buildings, and outside when communicating with friends and family, are always in support of the district and its efforts. A bold message of expectations from district leadership and the information and training to support it, can ensure positive messages are being shared in social media, at family dinners, and even at the grocery store.
If a prospective parent is calling your school right now, clicking through your web site, or asking one of your teachers what they think about your district, are you confident they’ll be engaged enough to continue their research and keep your district on their shortlist of school choices? If not, contact us to find out how we have helped other districts reinvent their web site and school tour experience to turn prospective families into enrolled families.
Watch for our upcoming blog which will share the top three most important factors surrounding school choice.