11 ways to gather online reviews for your school

This is  the second in the series of my posts on importance of  online reviews to your school enrollment strategy. I outlined some reasons why you may want to embrace online reviews in my last post.

 

Getting online reviews for your school is not a rocket science but you have to make conscious efforts to achieve real success in it. The alternative to it which most school owners do is to leave it and do nothing about it – the consequence is grave and the risk is high.

For those who want to give it a try, here are 11 tips for achieving it.

1. Ask, Ask, and Ask: The truth is that if you don’t ask, you are not likely to get it. Customers are more prone to writing negative reviews about products than writing negative reviews. When last did you go online to tell the world how great this dress you bought looks on you? It is just natural.

Cultivate the habit of asking parents to review your service. You’ll be surprised by their willingness to do so.

2. Make it simple and seamless: If you are requesting your parents to drop a review for your school, be sure that you don’t make it complex – send them an email or SMS and make sure the message contains a link to the exact place where to write the review with clear instructions. Avoid a situation where they have to navigate there themselves or figure out what to do.

 3. Tell them what to expect: Unfortunately, most review sites require users to log in before they can write reviews. This is to prevent ‘spamming’ or any other automated and unwanted inputs but most users detest it.

If users are required to login before reviews are made, let the users know beforehand so they expect it and psychologically prepare for it. It is OK to manage such expectation, otherwise, it could be a roadblock that could get them irritated and leave the sites without writing any.

Photo Credit: Treasure Chest Place, Ajah

Take advantage of happy their moments:  When they come to you telling you how their children have improved academically under your tutelage and singing praises of your school. Take advantage of that moment, ask them to prove it by writing a review for your school.

Photo Credit: Blooming Green, Yaba

4. Don’t ask for positive feedback/review, ask them for honest feedback/review: Asking parents directly for positive reviews has automatically defeated the purpose of asking in the first place. There is a huge difference between ‘Positive’ and ‘Honest’ feedbacks in the mind of your customers. ’ You don’t want to come across as being forcefully or telling them that, ‘I know I don’t merit it, but do it for me’. That alone is negative, be careful with your choice of words.

 

5. Send email reminders to willing parents ONLY: It is very possible that some busy parents genuinely forget to write the review as promised, take time to check online to see if they have not done so and sent them a gentle reminder or SMS to nudge them to do so. In order not to appear intrusive, make sure you send to only parents you have had a conversation with before.

 

6. Start with your circle of friends: A good place to start your request for online reviews is your good friends among the parents who are not likely to say NO. This is called ‘low hanging fruits’. With this, you know what works in your approach and also what does not work. Perfect your strategy of reaching out and then launch it to other parents.

Photo Credit: Rainbow College Boarding

7. Take advantage of special events: Get a series of internet-ready devices on your special event days like PTA, inter-house sports and all that and politely asking parents to OPTIONALLY drop a review the same way you ask them to register their arrival. You may not get all of them to oblige but remember that reviews are not a game of numbers. One or two positive reviews could be all you need.

You may also decide to go ‘manual’ and offline to achieve the same purpose if you don’t have the resources. ’

8. Create a memorable and newsworthy event or scintillating performance:  According to James Hadley Chase, Goldfish have no hiding place‘. Try to organize a newsworthy event that attracts the attention of everyone in the space- even the government. This would definitely trend and fetch your school some ‘Accolades’. ’

Imagine one of your pupils wins N1M on ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ programme or had A1 in all his/her external examination.

Naturally, every parent of your school would like to identify with it, they likely go online themselves telling the whole world that they also have children in your school that are doing great – This give credence to the fact the success has many families but failure is an orphan. Take a deliberate effort to be extra successful and innovative and watch the magic!

10. Introduce incentives: Many parents see an online review as stressful that they don’t want to go through or make time for. As a school owner, putting yourself in their shoes will also have the same feeling running through your mind.

Naturally, customers behave like children and creating a review and reward promo in any of the school events by offering incentives such as simple chocolates, sweet, biscuit, tickets to watch films etc to parents can ease that stressed feeling and make reviewing your school sound exciting and simple to parents.

11. Be honest with it: Let parents know that this is to your benefit and it is just a favour you are asking from them. Don’t package it as if they are also benefiting from reviews when they are not.

 

 

 

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Importance of online reviews to your enrollment strategy (1)

A good word of mouth referral will tell 4-6 people about your product or services, online reviews can tell thousands of people overnight.

Your school’s reputation does not depend on what you say about it, but on what others (especially parents)  are saying about it. According to Chris Anderson, “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is.”  Your brand is what your school is all about. It’s who you are, and what you offer to families. And if your online reputation doesn’t match who you say you are, your school marketing efforts will largely fall flat and enrollment will suffer.

Online reviews are the digital form of ‘words of mouths’. In my post on brand, I mentioned that your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Online reviews could make or mar your brand and by extension, your enrollment. Organizations spend millions to naira on damage control when a dissatisfied client decided to go online to express his grievances about their products or services. Ironically, your customers are more generous with bad reviews than good ones. Bad news travels faster than good news especially in this social media world and viral age.

SOURCE: IMPERIAL GATE SCHOOL, LEKKI profile on SchoolsCompass.com.ng

A couple of years ago, if you conduct a ‘google’ ’search on one private school in Ajah, the first website that came up about that school was the Linda Ikeji’s story about a sad story of a child that died in the school from what the narrator termed as ‘school’s negligence’. This story trended online for a very long time. The last time I checked, it is no longer there but you don’t want to imagine the damage that story might have caused the school. As a third party, I am not privy to the school owner’s side of the story but that does not reduce the damage already done to the school’s brand.

I am sure the story about the prestigious Queens College last year is still fresh in our mind, search for anything about the school on google, you are more likely to be confronted with  this unpleasant news about the school than the good  things Queen’s college is known for over the years making it look as if Google is a conspirator, a promoter of bad news at the expense of the good ones.

IMAGE SOURCE: GOOGLE.COM

Apart from the effect on the brand and reputation of your school, online reviews also  help your school in the following ways:

  1. Increases your online visibility: If more people are talking and engage about your school online, technically speaking, it sends a signal to all major search engines about your school as more contents are being generated all centred about your school.
  2. Boosts your enrollment:  When prospective parents read what other parents are saying about your school, they feel more relaxed, connected, and confident about their choice of your school.

       3. Gives you the competitive advantage: If you ask many tech-savvy millennial about where learn more about a particular school, they are more likely to refer you to sites that generate reviews and ratings about schools like SchoolCompass and others

Action Point:

As a school owner, it’s time to embrace online review sites and use them to your advantage. How many reviews do you have on your SchoolsCompass profile?

 

NB: In the next 2 series, we shall be looking at different ways to gather online reviews for your school and what to do in the event of bad reviews that threaten your brand. You don’t want to miss any of them – watch this space!

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8 Fun Ways To Keep Math Learning Alive Through the Summer

Summer is a time for play and rest, family time and adventures. But there’s compelling research to show that kids forget a lot of what they learned during the school year if they don’t have opportunities to continue reading, using their mathematical thinking skills and exploring the world around them.

It’s also been well-documented that the gaps between kids from high and low socioeconomic statuses grow over the summer. Affluent kids often have access to enriching experiences like travel, summer camp and visits to museums. Summer may be one of the most unequal times of the year, and that makes it hard on teachers in the fall. But there are plenty of low-cost ways to keep kids learning through the summer without sitting them down to do worksheets or drilling them on a math app.

Valorie Salimpoor is a trained neuroscientist who consults for the educational gaming company Cognition and has insight into helping kids who struggle with fractions. She also has two young kids of her own. She has been using her knowledge of the learning brain and her fascination with brain development to infuse her kids’ play time with math that’s fun and that sticks. Based on what she has seen work with her own kids, she’s pulled out some basic principles of fun activities parents can do with kids of many ages after school, on weekends, and during the summer.

“We know from a lot of research that there is a summer loss, and it seems to be more significant for math than it is for reading,” Salimpoor said. She thinks that could be because many adults are math anxious themselves, so when they imagine math activities for their kids they think about counting activities or doing math facts, while they enjoy reading to their children. Those activities are boring and don’t leverage what scientists have discovered about “sticky” learning.

Salimpoor has found good results utilizing eight traits of the learning brain to her advantage.

1. Engage intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is a powerful force for learning. People are most often intrinsically motivated when they have control over what they’re learning and have a sense of competence while engaging in the learning. The activity isn’t too hard or too easy; it’s just the right amount of challenging to keep the mind engaged.

“If you do a task when you have intrinsic motivation it significantly increases your performance and what you learn,” Salimpoor said. Because the activity itself is highly engaging to the learner, he pays more attention and the brain records the information better. “Any time there is more dopamine flowing in your reward systems, you are much more likely to consolidate the information better,” Salimpoor said.

She has found the easiest way to recreate that sense of “flow” with her children is to infuse math into activities they already love. For examples, her son loves Legos, so in addition to letting him build whatever he wants, she sometimes encourages him to make blueprints of what he’s planning to build. She asks him to predict how many blocks he’ll need and to think about scale, perimeter and area. She’s essentially infusing spatial awareness into an activity he’s already excited to do.

“This only works for people who are big fans of Lego. That’s sort of the whole point of this,” Salimpoor said.

Another example might work for kids who are passionate about Minecraft. With just a few small tweaks like planning what to build ahead of time, playing Minecraft can be mathematical. And Salimpoor said practising a little math every day is all it takes to keep skills sharp.

2. Engage emotional arousal

Emotion is an incredibly powerful part of learning that can easily get overlooked. “We can do a boring task over and over and not remember it, but you can experience an emotional moment once and remember it forever,” Salimpoor said. Emotion centres are tightly tied to memory centres, so when possible try to build emotion into summer activities.

It can be relatively simple to do. Even a project like building a kite together involves some climactic moments of heightened suspense that will be memorable. Making a stellar kite will require research, planning, measuring, sketches and probably some trial and error. The first time the child throws the kite in the air to see if it flies will be an emotional moment filled with suspense. And it’s more than likely the design will require more tinkering, and hence more math.

“The whole idea here is you’re thinking about it and revising your strategy,” Salimpoor said.

It could take all summer to build the perfect kite, but along the way will be several climactic moments, along with more learning, revising and planning. The math is embedded in a fun activity that has an emotional payoff.

3. Use extrinsic rewards wisely

Using extrinsic rewards to get kids to do things is a controversial, though common, practice. Some research indicates that when kids are rewarded for doing things they already like, they lose interest in the activity. That’s one reason some experts don’t recommend rewards for reading — it implies that reading is work, not fun, and must be rewarded.

However, Salimpoor points out that there are some parts of math that just aren’t as fun as others. Practice is an important part of math and is perhaps the best candidate for gamification and careful use of extrinsic rewards. This is where understanding how the brain responds to different reward schedules is important.

“Knowing that a desirable reward is coming, but not knowing when it will come or what it will be is the highest output,” Salimpoor said.

She compares this kind of reward to the dopamine rush adults experience when playing the slot machines. The player knows it’s possible to win, but has no idea whether the win will come on the first try or 100th try. And, the size of the reward is also unknown. That makes winning even sweeter.

“Releasing dopamine is really good because it makes you want to continue and has the double effect of helping you consolidate the information,” Salimpoor said. “Knowing what situations are likely to release dopamine might be all you need” to make a dull task more exciting.

She has found that if she can build excitement and unpredictability into an activity, it creates a fertile ground for learning. She might reward her kids with tokens that can be exchanged for something they want after they’ve completed some number of problems or tasks. But the key, she says, is to vary when she gives them out and how many. It may seem counterintuitive, but this variability actually makes kids want to continue because they don’t know how much they’ll get.

Salimpoor said often parents try to be consistent with extrinsic rewards because that’s what they’ve learned works for moderating a child’s behaviour. But the opposite is true with learning; variability primes the brain.

Salimpoor emphasizes that extrinsic rewards should be used sparingly and only for the kinds of tasks kids don’t really want to do. Gamifying them makes it more fun, and thus more memorable.

4. Engage the brain’s predictive power

Part of being human is making predictions based on the schema we hold in our brains. And when the prediction leads to an exciting result the brain releases dopamine, which helps cement learning. Parents can harness this tendency by encouraging kids to predict things that have some significance to them.

Salimpoor says these strategies work well with things that regularly update and that a child can check daily. A parent might give the child a hundred imaginary dollars to buy stocks, for example. It takes some calculating and watching patterns to pick investments, and then together parent and child can check the stock prices every day.

“The idea is you’re getting excited to check this every day,” Salimpoor said. “You want to do the math to see how much you won or lost. And because you’re thinking about it every day, you’re calculating percentages and decimals.”

Maybe parents even give kids the interest on their stocks in real money, once they’ve calculated it. Another, less financially focused option, is to do the same thing with sports statistics — updating and calculating averages and percentages.

5. Provide a larger goal

Stories and books inherently come with the bigger picture of a narrative, making them attractive to many kinds of learners. Often math isn’t taught with that bigger goal in mind, but it could be.

“Take math and make it more like reading a storybook,” Salimpoor said. She does projects with her sons that have a beginning, middle and end. Kitchen projects are often good for this type of longer-term project. For example, she and her sons did an experiment where they left different kinds of fruit in the sun and weighed them each day to calculate the water loss.

“It’s also great for the brain because you’re starting out by planning a framework of what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it, and that establishes a storyboard in your head,” Salimpoor said. Then every day of the project, the child has to review the information learned and add more to it. “This is the best method of learning because you’re taking synapses that you’ve already formed and strengthening them.”

She even had her sons graph the fruit’s water loss as another way of adding math to this project. Another time they set up an experiment to see which kitchen containers preserved food the best. Each day they checked for mould, graphing the percentage of mould each day.

“It’s kind of fun to see and you look forward to seeing it because you want to see how your experiment has changed on a daily basis.”

6. Use math as a secondary element of a project

There are tons of ways to involve math in a project where the main purpose isn’t mathematical, like baking. The point is the cookies (obviously), but it doesn’t hurt to figure out the fractions and ratios together along the way. This method has the added advantage of taking math anxiety — a real phenomenon for many kids — out of the picture.

“The reason this is my favourite is it helps you realize how math applies in the real world,” Salimpoor said. She has watched her sons begin to notice math throughout their lives and become more interested in it.

Other ideas Salimpoor has tried in order to infuse math into other activities :

  • Make a spectrum of colour using different ratios of colour dyes and water.
  • Calculate density with different solutions of water, sugar and dye. Try to get different densities for different colours.
  • Calculate a summer budget. Have kids think about how much money they’ll need for summer expenses daily, weekly and monthly.
  • When driving somewhere, ask kids to calculate the best route based on gas consumption, distance and time.

7. Use visual-spatial tasks

One of the difficult things about math is that it requires the ability to manipulate abstract concepts in one’s mind. Adults have established pathways for this type of abstract thinking built up over time, so it’s easy to forget how complicated that is for someone learning a math concept for the first time.

“For someone just learning these, it’s very important to take abstract ideas and connect them to visual or spatial concepts,” Salimpoor said. “The more we can do this the stronger the foundations will become.”

That’s one reason early elementary classrooms are filled with math manipulatives. Salimpoor says this is crucial, especially when kids are young because it helps to develop a more complete neural network connected to different senses. The abstract becomes concrete when it’s connected to experiences kids can see and touch.

“If all the systems link together to form a concept, that’s a great situation to be in because activating any part of this system activates the rest of the system as well,” Salimpoor said.

Once again Legos are a great toy to make abstract math concepts concrete. Salimpoor has also tried geometric bubble makers, encouraging her kids to play around with different shapes to see what kind of bubbles they make.

She has also had a lot of fun playing with music and math — filling cups with different ratios of water, banging on them and talking about patterns in the sounds.

“Give them the activity to play around with,” she said. It’s tempting to tell kids how the ratios relate to sounds, or how different wand shapes affect bubbles, but kids will learn more if they discover it on their own.

8. Consider the cognitive load

Cognitive load refers to the amount of information one can keep in one’s head, manipulate and process at any given time. It’s often related to working memory, and is easy to overtax and is often overlooked. Sometimes kids experience math anxiety because they don’t have good working memory, not because they don’t understand the concepts.

“There’s a large difference in children’s working memory even if they’re the same age,” Salimpoor said. “If their working memory is overloaded they can’t process new information as well.”

Taking detailed notes or using manipulatives are ways to free up working memory as a child is learning something new. Parents can spot cognitive overload if a child was engaged but suddenly starts staring blankly. It’s also helpful to make new concepts as concrete as possible so they don’t require so much working memory.

Neuroscientists are still trying to understand working memory better. There’s consensus that it’s very difficult to generalize working memory, but why and how to improve it is less well understood. If the goal is to improve working memory on math tasks, the practice has to be on math tasks. Doing “brain games” will improve working memory only on those specific tasks, not all tasks.

“All of these things are very established things about how the brain works in humans and animals,” Salimpoor said.

It takes a little extra work to think about how math could fit into an activity a child is already excited about, but the more seamlessly it can be infused, the more kids will begin to see mathematical thinking as an integral part of life and play. Salimpoor intentionally tries to use to her advantage what she knows about how her sons’ brains work, but she has also reaped the benefit of spending fun quality time with them.

First published by Mindshift

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes a Good School Culture?

Most principals have an instinctive awareness that organizational culture is a key element of school success. They might say their school has a “good culture” when teachers are expressing a shared vision and students are succeeding — or that they need to “work on school culture” when several teachers resign or student discipline rates rise.

But like many organizational leaders, principals may get stymied when they actually try to describe the elements that create a positive culture. It’s tricky to define, and parsing its components can be challenging. Amid the push for tangible outcomes like higher test scores and graduation rates, it can be tempting to think that school culture is just too vague or “soft” to prioritize.

That would be a mistake, according to Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, an expert in education leadership and management. As she explains, researchers who have studied culture have tracked and demonstrated a strong and significant correlation between organizational culture and an organization’s performance. Once principals understand what constitutes culture — once they learn to see it not as a hazy mass of intangibles, but as something that can be pinpointed and designed — they can start to execute a cultural vision.

At a recent session of the National Institute for Urban School Leaders at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Bridwell-Mitchell took a deep dive into “culture,” describing the building blocks of an organization’s character and fundamentally how it feels to work there.

Culture Is Connections

A culture will be strong or weak depending on the interactions between the people in the organization, she said. In a strong culture, there are many, overlapping, and cohesive interactions among all members of the organization.  As a result, knowledge about the organization’s distinctive character — and what it takes to thrive in it — is widely spread and reinforced. In a weak culture, sparse interactions make it difficult for people to learn the organization’s culture, so its character is barely noticeable and the commitment to it is scarce or sporadic.

Beliefs, values, and actions will spread the farthest and be tightly reinforced when everyone is communicating with everyone else. In a strong school culture, leaders communicate directly with teachers, administrators, counsellors, and families, who also all communicate directly with each other.
A culture is weaker when communications are limited and there are fewer connections. For example, if certain teachers never hear directly from their principal, an administrator is continually excluded from communications, or any groups of staff members are operating in isolation from others, it will be difficult for messages about shared beliefs and commitments to spread.
Culture Is Core Beliefs and Behaviors

Within that weak or strong structure, what exactly people believe and how they act depends on the messages — both direct and indirect — that the leaders and others in the organization send. A good culture arises from messages that promote traits like collaboration, honesty and hard work.

Culture is shaped by five interwoven elements, each of which principals have the power to influence: 

Fundamental beliefs and assumptions, or the things that people at your school consider to be true. For example: “All students have the potential to succeed,” or “Teaching is a team sport.”
Shared values or the judgments people at your school make about those belief and assumptions — whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust. For example: “It’s wrong that some of our kindergarteners may not receive the same opportunity to graduate from a four-year college,” or “The right thing is for our teachers to be collaborating with colleagues every step of the way.”
Norms, or how members believe they should act and behave, or what they think is expected of them. For example: “We should talk often and early to parents of young students about what it will take for their children to attend college.” “We all should be present and engaged at our weekly grade-level meetings.”
Patterns and behaviours, or the way people actually act and behave in your school. For example, There are regularly-scheduled parent engagement nights around college; there is active participation at weekly team curriculum meetings. (But in a weak culture, these patterns and behaviours can be different than the norms.)
Tangible evidence, or the physical, visual, auditory, or other sensory signs that demonstrate the behaviours of the people in your school. For example, Prominently displayed posters showcasing the district’s college enrollment, or a full parking lot an hour before school begins on the mornings when curriculum teams meet.
Each of these components influences and drives the others, forming a circle of reinforcing beliefs and actions, Bridwell-Mitchell says; strong connections among every member of the school community reinforce the circle at every point.

First published by Mindshift

 

 

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Over 30 Educational Websites for Teachers

Here is one of the popular infographics we published in the past. It features over 30 educational web tools teachers can use in their teaching and professional development. This visual is based on our  Ultimate EdTech Chart. “We arranged these websites into 8 different categories and for each of these categories we came up with four websites that best represent the selected content area. The categories we have included are websites for language arts teachers, websites for math teachers, websites for science teachers, websites for physics teachers, websites for history teachers,  websites for social studies teachers, websites for art teachers, and websites for music teachers.  You can find links to the websites in this chart”.

Enjoy!

First published by Educators Technology

 

 

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Advantages and Disadvantages of the Internet and Social Media in Education

Quality Education has been identified and determined through educational resources, learning and teaching processes, adequate and current materials etc. Accessibility to quality education and its importance in the society cannot be overemphasized. The 21st century has provided us with the greatest tool in achieving a quality education. Social Media is not only a means to increase participation but to develop and attract possible means of making education well worth the time and effort. From awareness to learning opportunities to better interaction to getting projects done easily, social media has been a great means to achieve the main objectives of quality education. It is a known fact that Social Media is here to stay as all spheres of life have been influenced with its use. Communication is easier, faster and more convenient with social media, the transaction is stress-free, discovering opportunities and developing creative ideas has been given a boost by Social Media. Education is not left out as schools and their administrators have keyed into the world wide web in improving the quality of education provided. Just like every other thing, the internet and Social Media has its advantages and disadvantages. We outline them in the article below.

ADVANTAGES

Increased Learning Participation and Collaboration

Statistics have shown that the number of participants in the educational system has increased over the years since the creation of Social Media. More Students are willing to school as we can see through the use of online distance learning. There are teachers who are strictly E-teachers and help to increase learning opportunities. Researchers have also contributed their quota through easy access to their research and articles on various topics via the internet and Social Media platforms. Stakeholders in the Educational system are able to participate more and get the best through the incorporation of Social Media. There is increased collaboration of education with technology, health, finance, governance etc. This is seen through adequately published researches and articles, production of materials to enhance the quality of education, easy financial transactions, health education and promotion, increase in political participation by students etc. Students are able to interact more with their fellow students across the globe, teachers and have access to a wide range of academic materials. This interaction gives a boost to learning opportunities and participation.

Improved quality of Educational services

Thanks to the Internet, educational services are of better quality and greater resourcefulness. This quality is achieved as schools are able to benchmark their offerings with globally accepted standards across the world, through a simple google search. Students have easy access to materials and can embark on projects with convenience. Students can learn more, know more and share more. Conferences are easily attended as Video and Online Conferences are making waves. Students gain more especially those that are really active on Social Media and e-forums. Networking is easier and more productive, this way quality of educational services improve. Exams are now conducted online and are graded as well. All these help to improve the quality of Education especially now that the world revolves around technology.

DISADVANTAGES

Everything that has advantages must have disadvantages. Social Media and e-learning despite its numerous benefits also have drawbacks. As much as it is useful, it can be a huge source of distraction for students whose attention is difficult to keep sustained on school work. Most of these students end up using the internet, e-learning platforms and social media to connect with people for the sole purpose of socializing. Statistics have shown that a large percentage of people are constantly active on Social Media platforms just for the sake of socializing. Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram have no closing time, it gives access to a 24/7 activity. If students are not properly monitored, they can neglect the reasons for using Social Media in Education and focus on distracting and time-wasting activities. This monitoring should also be extended to the type of contents viewed by Students on Social Media. All sorts of contents are available on Social Media and only strict monitoring is the adequate filter in ensuring students do not stumble on inappropriate contents.

Conclusion

The Internet and Social Media has been established to be a great tool in Education. It has served as a means to improving the quality of education. Just has it has its advantages, it has its disadvantages. Proper use and positive acknowledgement of these platforms would help enhance quality Education, while every participant makes the best out of it. What have you benefited from the use of the Internet and Social Media in Education? Comment below.

 

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Your Brand: How does it help Your School’s Marketing Strategy?

Your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Do you think parents really have time to visit and mentally compare every school and cross-reference the information they get from all these schools? How do they know when they have made the best rational decision about their choice of schools? A brand is a kind of tool for your customer to use when making a buying decision.

Every school has a brand. Contrary to popular belief, Your brand is not your logo, not about your tagline, not about your vision statements, It is not a subset of your advertising (more important than that). It is the sum total of all the meanings that all your possible audiences carry about you in their heads and in their hearts.

For example, there is a particular school in Abuja that has the reputation of producing the best results year in year out.  I can not identify her logo if I see it but that does not affect her brand. Again, I repeat, a brand is not about the logo, it is about perception.

In other words, your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.

Building your brand and sustaining IT is an endless process, it has no start and end time. You build it consciously and unconsciously. It is not part of your marketing strategy (in most cases). It is not what you consciously do to woo new families. It is part of your core value systems as a school. It may be strong/positive, strong/negative, weak/positive, or weak/positive.

Let’s examine these possible positions one after the other:

  1. Strong/Positive brand:

    This is the best place to be. All schools strive to be here but very few schools are here. It means that your school is known by almost every family and what these families carry in their heads and hearts about your school is good and mirror your vision of your school. Schools in this category often have a long waiting list every session- long enough to populate a school. They are probably leveraging on the fact that the brand gives stability, growth potential, loyalty, and longevity.

2. Strong/Negative brand:

This is not a pleasant place to be. Most schools in this category don’t set out to be here- they were most likely once in the Strong/Positive brand position before finding themselves here.           A lot of factors can be attributed to this fall – some of them are out of their control (like the natural disaster, government negligence, policy change, culture,  etc. ) while some are within (like examination malpractice, sexual assault etc ). When this happens, it always results in parents leaving the affected school in droves and depleted enrollments.                     It costs a lot of money and other resources to get out of this position and move to the previous one. It some instances, it may never happen!

3. Weak/Positive brand

A lot of schools are in this space. Not a bad place to be but there is always room for improvement.  It only means that few parents know about your school and the good things you do. If you are persistence and you maintain your class, it is just a matter of time, your weak may become strong. Your marketing strategy and PR  have a  role to play here, invest more in them.

4. Weak/Negative brand

 This is the worst place to be, if drastic action is not taken, you’ll soon be out of the school business. Any school in this category probably fell from the weak/positive position. The first step is to convert the negative to positive by addressing whatever caused it before thinking of moving from weak to strong. It takes almost eternity to achieve but it is possible with a strong will and in most cases under different management.  The good news is that because just a few people know about your school, it costs less to do damage control unlike schools in Strong/Negative brand position.

In conclusion, what is your school known for? Are you too pricey or cheap? Excellent academic performance, strong in extracurricular activities, strong adherence to spiritual and moral values, your curriculum and others?

What comes to mind when people see your logo, school bus, or hear the name of your school?  Engage your current parents to anonymously extract this information, process it and know where your school belongs from the four position stated above. Wherever you belong is a good place to start building your brand.

 

Good luck!

 

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Increase your school enrollments through inbound marketing.

If you can get a prospective parent to visit your school, their likelihood of applying skyrockets as high as 80% (according to research). But you have to make them WANT to visit you in the first place. And therein lies your biggest school marketing challenge. This is where inbound marketing shines.

Image Source: Palmer Ad Agency

World’s leading marketing agency Hubspot defined inbound marketing as a marketing strategy focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.

In context, Inbound marketing is an internet-based marketing strategy that involves creating relevant, engaging online content that draws potential families to your schools, establishes a relationship with them, and in so doing, convinces them to enroll.Have you noticed that most schools no longer print flyers to distribute (randomly ) to prospective parents and the number of newspaper (and other print media) adverts of schools are not what it used to be before?

Photo credit: Riverside College,

The idea that the traditional means of advertising are falling by the wayside with today’s audiences (i.e., parents of little ones) in favor of non-intrusive online engagement. Outbound marketing which is the traditional marketing is not only expensive, it is intrusive, not effective, time-consuming, energy-sapping, and non targeted.

In simpler terms, Inbound marketing is an online marketing strategy. We all engage in it every time. NO big deal! If your school has a facebook & Instagram page, SchoolsCompass page, Whatsapp group of prospects, blog page etc, you are already implementing inbound marketing.

The big deal is:

  • How well do you use it?
  • What type of contents are you churning out to who?
  • What medium are you using?

Your ability to answer these questions correctly determines how effective your inbound marketing strategy would be.

SchoolsCompass is a startup that specializes in carrying out inbound marketing strategies for schools, so we are understandably biased towards the decision to use ourselves as an example in this blog. But there is a reason we exist, and why we’re passionate about helping schools like yours achieve your enrollment goals and project their brand through inbound strategies: because to do it right on your own takes an immense amount of time and possibly costs more. And just as many schools are tight on money, we know that their staff is likewise pretty short on time to handle it in-house, too. In order to identify a good inbound marketing strategy for your schools, let us examine some of its characteristics

1. Targets parents through online platforms such as blogs, social media and search engines:

 

Any inbound platform that is not accessible through consistent blog posts, social media, and most importantly, search engines cannot be said to be very effective because these are places you can target parents genuinely looking for schools.

SchoolsCompass has all these in excess -arguably, it is the most visited school-related website in Nigeria and the most optimized website for school-related keywords

 

2. Attention is a Finite Resource:

Photo Credit: STARFIELD COLLEGE, ABUJA

 

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, the average human’s attention span has decreased from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Good inbound marketing strategy understands that attention span of online readers is very short- therefore it  pushes ONLY what is relevant in a non clustered form preferably in bullet points with the right spacing so that eyes can rest before reading the next points. Your school’s profile (if well done by you) on  schoolscompass understands this psychology

 

 

3. Earn parents’ interest  rather than buying it

Photo: SchoolsCompass.com.ng Homepage

Any marketing strategy that is not forceful in approach is considered to be the best. How well would you describe the SchoolsCompass tagline;  ‘we guide, you decide’?  It is not just in words, but in deeds whenever we are relating with parents.

 

4. It is permission-based, not interruption-based

Imagine a room filled with parents looking for schools and you are asked to come and pitch (not preach)  your school to them. Your chances of conversion is 750% higher than interruption-based marketing.

SchoolsCompass is one of the few places you could advertise your schools where prospective parents are actually looking for you and you aren’t interrupting them. Most social media campaigns are interruption-based. No wonder, SchoolsCompass routes a minimum of 25 families to different schools all over Nigeria via telephone calls and text message on a daily basis.

If you need an effective and non-intrusive, well researched inbound marketing strategy for your school to attract parents, SchoolsCompass is an option you can’t afford to ignore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 tips to increase your enrollment this September

According to a recent research conducted by SchoolsCompass, an average parent changes school once every three years. And most of these changes take place at the beginning of every session- September . Top on the list of their reasons or change is unsatisfactory academic performance, relocation and economic reality.

Photo credit: Blooming greens School

As your schools wind up for the session, the race for September admission gets more intense. Yes, a lot of prospective parents could find their way into your admission office for inquiry. Chances are that they are also considering other schools making the competition tougher.

 

If you’re just hanging on and doing everything the way you did it last year and the one before simply because of busyness – or maybe just because you don’t feel like anything needs changing – then you could be missing plenty of opportunities for reaching and enrolling new families.

 

Here are 5 things you should do to take advantage of this peak season:

1. Insist on initial commitment before any negotiation/consensus 

Photo credit: Naija Going Abroad

This is probably the litmus test to know how committed prospective parents are. Most of the times, it is masked in ‘Application Form’.  The idea behind this is not to force parents to enroll their wards but to extract a little commitment, avoid time wasters and enables you to focus all your strategies and energy on ‘Serious People ONLY’ for optimal performance.

2. Push the Panic Button 

Photo credit: First Things

Encourage parents who enroll in say less than say 15 days from the day of their first inquiry or visit.  Give a little discount say 5% of tuition fee to push the panic button could go a long way to sway a decision in your favor. You may end up spending more-  in time and other resources if you have to follow up on them just because it takes them a longer time to decide.

 

3. Help them complete the admission form

Photo credit: Albesta Academy

Where possible, go through and complete the application form with them to understand and address possible reservations and roadblocks in your questions. If they don’t have instant answers to these questions while completing it at home, it may cause other rounds of decision making which may or may not favor your school.

 

4. Give them something to remember about your school

Photo credit: Concordia Junior Academy, Yola

A simple branded pen or exercise book, when taken home after visiting your school could create a ‘top of the mind’ awareness about your school. When it is time to make a decision, the name of your school will always come to mind.  Call it a souvenir, you are on track.

 

5. Connect with them outside business

Photo credit: Rainbow College

Let prospective parents know that you also value the relationship with them beyond enrolling their ward in your school. Remember, they left their businesses to visit your business premises, show them you also care about their businesses as well. Take pictures with them and connect them on social media where necessary. With this, you are not just a prospective client, you are a friend and most people buy from friends.

 

 

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WHY STUDENTS CHEAT AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT

Dubbing, Scopes, Expo, Giraffing, –if you have passed through the Nigerian school system you are sure to have come across these slangs being thrown around or you might have even used them yourself. Cheating, as we have witnessed in schools, encompasses homework, class tests, school exams and government board exams; and with the internet making things a lot faster and easier for everyone, plagiarism and electronic cheating can easily be done without the educator even realizing the act has been perpetuated. As cheating in schools grows to epidemic proportions, Nigerian private schools are not spared from its onslaught. In fact, in their own warped form of parent-teacher association, there have been many reported incidences of parents and teachers colluding to help students gain the unfair advantage on tests and exams. So why do students cheat? What can you as a school administrator do to prevent cheating in your school? Read on, as we analyze this pressing issue and outline the three major reasons why students cheat and methods you can adopt to prevent and curb this now.

 

All the Accolades, None of the Effort
Most students want all the credit that comes with having good grades without actually putting in the work. When it comes to homework or projects, students are typically caught plagiarizing by lifting whole pages of text from guidebooks or even going online to copy and rephrase other people’s work. The average student today is lethargic when it comes to doing any sort of work –

Source: The White Dove Schools

homework, school work, housework, you name it. Growing up in the internet age where years of manual labour have been reduced and automated to a single click of a button has helped reinforce this mentality in their minds. And so when it comes to tests and exams, their thoughts are focused erroneously on how to get the most results – good grades, in the shortest amount of time without putting in the work – studying and practising. Cheating to get ahead is the best route for this students.

 

What’s in it for me?
With the likes of Big Brother Nigeria and fast-to-fame musicians gracing their television screens, students are gradually losing faith and trust in the traditional and academic route to success. Students in this age have idolized celebrities who make it to the limelight without passing through the traditional route of academics and respectable careers, or without having put in substantial amount of academic work to gain success. The typical student has now accepted that academic excellence does not equate to success in the future and has set his mind to do whatever it takes to rush through the system and start working on other routes to success. So while in school, they cheat because they do not see the overall value of the system, and want to “fulfil all righteousness” to please their parents, educators and school/government boards.

All A+, no A-

Source: The Bells Comprehensive Secondary School.

Unrealistic expectations from parents and educators, also contribute to the high rate of cheating in schools. Students typically feel pressured to achieve academic feats that are beyond their cognitive capacity. Parents are the number one source of this pressure, which they pile on by verbally and sometimes physically assaulting their children or by unfairly comparing them to their mates. This negatively affects the child’s self-esteem and puts them under undue pressure to perform in order to maintain a peaceful state at home. Teachers are also not spared from this as they are constantly being pressured by school administrators to deliver top-performing students consistently every year. This pressure trickles down from the teachers to the students again and adds to the overwhelming pressure faced by students. Students end up cheating in order to please both parties in such a situation.

 

So, what can be done about this?

 

 

First and foremost, schools must develop and enforce zero tolerance policies for cheating and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of enforcement. Schools must stay vigilant and updated on all the new forms of cheating especially electronic cheating and online plagiarism as students now have unlimited and unsupervised access to mobile phones and the internet. Weave ethical behaviour lessons into the curriculum thereby inspiring students to act ethically when it comes to cheating and plagiarism,

Source: Grenville Schools

not just in class and in the here and now, but also in the future in their careers and businesses. Teachers also, must make the whole learning experience and curriculum exciting and engaging while teaching real-life value and application of every topic taught in the classroom. Students must be counselled to understand the important role academics and education plays in the lives and future career paths.

 

Conclusion
While strong and effective disciplinary actions are necessary, it is imperative that school administrators properly understand the problem of cheating in their schools and what motivates students to perpetuate these acts. In so doing you will be able to properly address the situation with any of our suggested approaches or any other method that you feel will suit your school. How are you dealing with cheating in your school? Let us know in the comment below.

First published by Allprotech

 

 

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