What About Those Families Who Don’t Have a Computer?

I’ve heard this question for the past 15 years from school leaders.  What’s even more incongruous is sometimes, the question comes from school leaders who are instituting one-to-one technology programs in their school, or even supplying students with Chromebooks or iPads.

About 8 years ago, the Band Parents organization where I was an officer heard that question from a new parent.  A response came from one of the parents who had gathered for the meeting – “Get one.”  It seem that the majority of parents were in agreement, since the extemporaneous response was met with applause.  The correct response to the question at that time was, “If you don’t have a computer, there is a good chance that your child’s education will be irrelevant, since computers are finding their way into the classroom as a key component of the curriculum.”

Today, in 2017, the question is really no longer valid – because it’s the wrong question.  The correct question should be, “What about those parents who don’t have a mobile device?”  If your response to that question is, “Well, everyone has one of those,” then your question about the computer-less family is moot.

Of course, that brings up other questions: “Is your school’s Web site responsive, or is it still text-heavy, complete with out of date information, small font sizes and very little white space?”  “Does your Web site have a page that outlines your tuition schedule (which may be acceptable for private schools that serve an affluent audience, but not necessarily appropriate for faith-based schools having difficulty sustaining their educational programs today)?”  “Who updates your Web site, and is it considered to be the public face of your school, or do you think it’s just something nice but not necessary today?”

Make no mistake, your Web site is essential today.  Families today go to the Web to find out information, more details, phone numbers, and research companies and contractors before they make decisions.  Then they talk with their friends.  Therefore, it’s important that your Web site’s content doesn’t just say what you think it should say – it needs to have comments from those families that are raving fans of your school, capitalizing on the power of word of mouth marketing.

If your main concern, however, is for those families who unable to afford a computer, that also bring up other questions: “Are you expecting them to pay tuition?”  “Do you have a stream of financial aid which allows families with significant financial need to affordably experience your school’s educational environment?”  and, the big one, “Does your school have a full-time Advancement/Development Director, and a well-developed Advancement/Development program?”  If you’ve answered “no” to all those questions, then you’ve probably seen your tuition increasing while your enrollment is decreasing over the past few years.  You’ll need to re-align your DREAM processes…which is one of the reasons they’re being reconfigured as ARMED, to prepare your school for the battles it’s facing.  It’s a very strategic change, since it creates two directions you can go depending on who your school is targeting for enrollment, and you need to be ARMED to properly hit your target.

More details about those two targets will be coming this summer.