These are the instructions regarding the use of BASIQS – Bringing Additional Students Into Quality Schools (although some of the tools may still be branded with the BASICS logo. I hope you find these tools useful to boosting your enrollment efforts. You may want to print this text so you can refer to it as you use the tools.
BASIQS includes: 1) a target enrollment based on past school enrollment (rather than “hope,”); 2) a tracking sheet and follow-up methodology; and 3) a scorecard so you can track enrollment on a month-to-month basis to determine if you have entrance points at particular times of the school year.
THE ENROLLMENT ESTIMATORTM
The Enrollment EstimatorTM is pretty self explanatory. Choose the estimator that’s right for your school. They are Excel files (.xlsx format). You can download the form by right clicking it, saving it to your desktop, and using it there.
Enrollment EstimatorTMs are modified and uploaded in October when most states record official enrollments for the current school year. I do this so you can get a jump on planning for your next school year and establish some milestones early on, since parents begin thinking about enrollment when the school year starts. Just as the choice of a high school educational setting starts in the 5th grade, parents and guardians begin thinking about next year as soon as the current school year starts. School administrators need to do the same.
In each Enrollment EstimatorTM there are four spreadsheets. The first is an example, the second and third are test sheets for you to check how accurate the estimates will be with your actual school enrollment from the past two school years. If it is within 5 students for each year, you can rely on the accuracy of the tool. If it is more than 5 students, then you should adjust your estimate for the coming school year accordingly by adjusting the number of “first year” students you’ll need to enroll for the coming school year.
The tracking sheets are to be used with a binder, a set of monthly tabbed dividers (1-12), and a set of 1-31 tabbed dividers (which you can purchase at your local office supply store). The front of the sheets show demographic information about a family, while the back shows your contact information. Three hole punch them on both sides. When I used them in the Diocese of Greensburg, I printed these of lime green fluorescent paper – so if anyone saw that color paper lying around, they knew it was important enrollment information.
The backs of these forms show suggested communications you should share with your prospective families. These are letters that you can prepare specific to your school, and have them filed electronically (which is why it’s important to have an email address of your prospective parent). You also have the option of printing them off and mailing them, if you think that would have more of an impact – just don’t have pre-printed letters sitting and waiting to be stuffed into an envelope – especially since you’ll have to change the date each time you send one out, and since most of your parents are part of Generation X (the ME Generation), they’ll want correspondence that’s customized and personalized for them. As you know, it’s much easier to do this with eCorrespondence.
The suggested correspondence includes:
– An INFORM (Information Needed For Our Record Maintenance) letter. With this piece of correspondence, you can then complete each family’s demographic profile. This is important, in that you may get a request from a parent for information on enrolling their child, but not know that there are three potential enrollees in the family. The INFORM letter allows families to supply the additional demographic details you’ll need to make better decisions regarding the impact this family could have by entering your school.
– The Web card is a pre-printed postcard that promotes your school’s Web address. Your school’s Web site should become the repository for all information about the school.
The above two steps are for those parents that have called the school and have requested more information. Then, then next step is to get parents emotionally involved, which means a visit to your school. It’s at that point that the marketing process is over and the “enrollment” process begins. Think of it this way: a restaurant’s commercial will get you in the door, but the greeting, the seating, the menu and the waitstaff are all part of the sales process.
The following letters and processes should be used after a parent has visited your school as a follow-up to their experience there. If they haven’t made it to visit your school, then everything that you’re supplying is information-based (and can be viewed as junk mail), rather than emotionally-engaging follow-up to make them feel as if they’re part of the school community already.
– Faculty to Student – each faculty member should write a letter which can be sent to an incoming student saying why they’re looking forward to seeing them in their class next year. This is one of those pieces that can be mailed to the attention of the student, since kids love to get regular US mail…not a postcard. They want to open an envelope. It’s such a novelty today.
The next two pieces are based on the “Peer Theory” – Parents talk to parents, kids talk to kids, teachers talk to teachers, etc. There’s a bit of sociology behind this, which also explains some of the pitfalls of cyberschoools, but that’s a discussion for another day.
– Parent to Parent – a current parent writes a letter that shows their satisfaction with their experience (primary importance) and their child’s experience (secondary importance) at the school. The reason for this is that today’s parents are members of Generation X – they want to know “what’s in it for them.” Kids can be thriving at the school, but parents aren’t willing to sacrifice to the extent that they were 20 years ago for a Catholic school education. My dad went and got a second job so I could go to Catholic high school. Some parents don’t have time to do that today – they may both be working two or three jobs already; other parents think the travelling soccer team will provide more opportunity than a Catholic school education.
– Student to Student – again, one you might want to mail out, but it should be from children who can communicate well about the school. You know the parent will read it, and a letter from a sixth grader can say something like, “I remember when I started school here at Spiritus Sanctus Academy…but I made a lot of friends real fast.” But it has to be the kids idea of what to say. For a high school, this is especially important since the incoming students have a tremendous “say” in where they’re going to high school. Not only is it important to engage the parents, students must also be engaged. Back in 1974, the Catholic high school knew that I was interested in band; the public high school really didn’t care. The Catholic high school sent me tickets to the band’s Spring Concert. I went. You already know where I went to high school…and that was 35 years ago!!
– An Alumni to Student – if you need to get that far – same thought, but from a noted alumni (sports figure, music professional, etc. Business executives really don’t appeal that much to the kids, though…)
What follows is a suggested timetable of when you should communicate with prospective parents – which seems to be one of the downfalls of other enrollment programs I’ve seen. They say “you can” send, email, call, etc.; today, “you MUST” do those things – and if they’re scheduled activities, then time can be found to do them.
Your first contact point is day X – the day the parent contacts the school and requests more information. The information is sent to them THAT DAY. Then, the following mathematical formula applies:
X+1 – INFORM CARD
X+4 – WEB Postcard
X+7 – Telecounseling Call – this is a good time to schedule a tour of the school if it hasn’t been done yet. If it has, then follow up the day after with a thank you note, and then continue the process as described. That is, a week after the tour, begin the following followup process.
X+14 – Faculty to Student Letter
X+28 = M – Parent to Parent Letter
M+14 – Financial Aid Information
M+28 – Student to Student Letter
2M+14 – Alumni to Student Letter
2M+28 – Second Telecounseling Call.
Here is the formula in a real time example. Say someone contacts your school on July 27. This is day X. Therefore, you follow up schedule is as follows:
8/24 (X+28 = M…that is, one month after initial contact)
You may not have to go this far, but this gives you the idea as to when the next followup date would be. Complete the “Tracking Form” with the real dates, then put that sheet in your binder for that specified day to remind you of the next contact point. Be sure to check the binder daily for what type of enrollment activity you need to do with parents.
It should go without saying that enrollment growth is work – which is why every college and university has an admissions department, and more and more faith-based high schools are employing an admissions director. It is not enough to simply send a parent a huge packet of enrollment information (uniform order forms, health forms, etc.) and wait for them to respond. They must become engaged with your school even before they enroll their child in your school. All “information about the school” should be housed on the school’s Web site, so when a parent asks “for more information” about the school, it’s a cue to you that they have specific questions, and they need to be answered. Invite them in for a meeting and a tour where they can ask their questions in person, “experience” your school, and deepen the relationship process. As for “when” all this needs to happen, high school information needs to be communicated to 5th graders, and elementary school information needs to be communicated with parents when their children are Baptized as infants.
The third component, the Scorecard, lets you keep track of enrollment on a month-to-month basis of your whole school enrollment. It’s a WORD document with embedded Excel spreadsheets. Double click the sheet to enter your enrollment figures. The thought behind this is that “People play differently when they’re keeping score” (Stephen R. Covey) – which is why the work of sales professionals is tracked continuously. If you read some of the rest of my Web site, you’ll see that I’ve made the statement that “Marketing is education, enrollment is sales, and retention is experience (not just service)…and people will pay for experiences.”
Please let me know if you have any questions by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also appreciate any feedback regarding the effectiveness of these tools.
Thank you so much for your consideration, and may your efforts be blessed!