When searching for a new school, families generally have a few considerations in their minds. In this post, we will go through those top priorities so that as a school owner you can recognize where your strengths and weaknesses lie and make the most out of your marketing strategies.
1. Extra costs
Before a parent decides to come to your school, be aware that they’ve gone to many schools. And it won’t be surprising if they did not settle for another school because of the high cost that comes with enrolment. The idea is to be transparent so you can build trust. During enrolment, parents are always on the lookout for any extra costs that may come with it. Some common examples include textbooks, uniforms, and bus fares, but it ultimately depends on how your school fees are structured.
Make sure your admission team’s ready to provide parents with a quick rundown on the costs involved with enrolment, so they can feel confident and catered for. If your school is not transparent about fees early on during the admissions process, it’s important that your team has a clear message on the value proposition of your school.
2. Customer Experience
The Bible itself says that where your treasure lies, so also there your heart will be. To parents, their children are their treasure. They will go the extra mile to ensure they enroll their kids where they will feel at home. During their search for a school, they are bombarded with a lot of choices, but what might make them pick your school is your customer experience.
For both prospective and current families, if they aren’t completely satisfied with their experience at your school (i.e. feel at home when interacting with your school), all they need to do is a simple online search to find an alternative solution.
By understanding what creates a great experience for families across all interactions with your school, you’ll not only retain enrolments but also create promoters who’ll go on to spread the word to their broader networks, attracting new enrolments in the process.
3. Extracurricular Activities
Your extracurricular activities likely make up some of your most important unique selling points. Some schools may have a strong sports program that they want to promote to attract more athletic students. Other schools may want to promote their vocational program, their STEM class, or any other of their strong programs which can be enticing for potential families. By marketing your extracurricular activities and making them a part of your brand identity, you’re making it that much easier for parents to quickly pick you out.
4. Staff Positivity
A lot can be said about your school from how the staff behaves. When attending an open day or any school event, parents pay attention to the attitudes of your staff and how they interact so they can have an idea of how things are in your school. The truth is this, a school that takes care of its staff will promote staff positivity. A bad experience for parents here in the formative stages is not ideal, but by staying aware you’ll be able to meet and exceed parents’ expectations.
5. Class Size
Class size is another factor that parents will look at, who generally prefer classes with fewer students. This can be a great selling point for your school if you have smaller class sizes and one which you can frequently touch on with your marketing.
6. Digital Expectations
We are in an era where even primary school pupils are allowed to operate digital devices at home. Parents’ expectation is that their kids will be exposed to technology in school. Millennial and Gen Z parents are much more comfortable with technology themselves, so it’s only natural they expect your school to be up-to-date with smart gadgets and the internet. They’ll also be much more sensitive to the quality of your technology, they’re just as likely to react negatively towards poor technology as they are to no technology.
Upgrading your school’s digital touchpoints isn’t just advantageous for improving experiences for parents and students, but also for streamlining your internal processes and making the lives of your marketing and admissions staff easier.
7. Buildings and Facilities
The overall condition of a school’s buildings and facilities is one of the most visible factors when it comes to evaluating a school. While it may be out of the scope of school marketers and admissions pros, it’s important to get your facilities team engaged on the importance of first impressions when potential families visit.
A great opportunity for your school can be your specific facilities that may be of interest to parents. Parents with athletic children will probably check out your sports centers, fields, and swimming pools. If their child is into science, they’ll probably check out the laboratories. If your school has a specific strength, you’ll want to use it to your advantage as a selling point.
8. Learning Support Programs
There are some students that require extra support when it comes to their learning. Not all students are the same, and parents will place more value on schools that can provide personalized support for their children. Most especially, students with disabilities and disorders may need special help from trained professionals. Having clear definitions of how this support looks at your school, can bolster future families’ confidence in how their children will adapt to their new school.
As every school knows, your reputation is an important factor for families in the searching phase. Word of mouth, marketing material, and first-hand experience gained through events can all go towards shaping your school’s reputation. Parents will likely try and get a feel for a school’s reputation by asking friends and other families, searching for you online, using review sites, or even browsing social media.
Another thing parents look out for in your school are your policies. There are certain policies that all parents want to know more about, like bullying, bus services, lunch program, and more. Make sure your staff is ready to expand on your policies in an easy-to-understand, and clear way to help parents have confidence that they’re child will be safe. Where possible, also have online resources available for families to find when your team is not on hand.
Putting yourself into the shoes of your parents will give you a greater understanding of what they’re looking for in your school. By figuring out parents’ top priorities when searching for a school, you can evaluate your own school’s strengths and weaknesses. By understanding what they want, you can focus your marketing efforts more accurately and tailor your communication with your specific target audience, which will ultimately drive enrolments.