If you’re involved with school admissions, your mission is to get prospective families to enroll in your school. And in the race to achieve your target enrollment and admissions numbers, it can be easy to lose focus on a very important aspect of your admissions strategy: reporting.
As you do the work needed to achieve your target numbers, it’s important to know where you stand throughout the course of this process. You can accomplish this through the generation of regular reports.
Reports should contain relevant information to help you answer the following questions:
- Are your strategies effective?
- Are these strategies helping you achieve your objectives?
- What are the strongest and weakest links in the process?
Reviewing and responding to this information can help keep you from wasting precious time and resources during your admissions season. I recommend that school admissions directors check and report on admissions statistics on a weekly basis. This will help keep you accountable and also keep the rest of your school administration team abreast of what your department is doing to help keep the school healthy and thriving.
Here are some examples of marketing strategies that you can apply before and during your enrollment and admissions period:
You can also increase your enrollment numbers by learning about the following:
Aside from these examples, it would help you to understand the whole process of how your prospects develop into enrollees through their “buyer’s journey”.
The Buyer’s Journey
Every prospective parent goes through what we call a "buyer's journey." Your school’s marketing goal is to generate new prospects and nurture them to the point where they are ready to be handed off to the admissions team. Those involved with admissions must be aware of the "journey" that a parent goes through to get to the point of becoming a serious prospect. If you want to learn more about the buyer’s journey, you can read up about it in detail here.
As you work your prospective parents through your pipeline, notice how you’re leading them to be your buyer? Working in admissions means that you’re also fulfilling the role of a salesperson.
The Sales Side
If you’re a private school admissions professional, the concept of taking on the role of being in sales may be uncomfortable for you, but it’s a reality.
Yes, I said sales.
Private school admissions directors are, in essence, salespeople. If you don’t like sales, then you might have some serious soul searching to do. You won’t do your school any favors if you’re not willing to sell. Hopefully, you are a sold-out believer of your school’s mission and programs, so your sales pitch will sound less like a gimmick and more like a sincere friend who’s excited about a fantastic school.
Keep in mind that as a salesperson, you can personalize your sales process to your buyer's context by understanding the buyer's journey. And in sales, you must regularly keep yourself, your team, and your superiors updated on which stage you are in relation to your sales goals.
This is why we have metrics for each stage, to determine your progress.
Here are seven key metrics that every school admissions team needs to monitor regularly, especially during admissions and enrollment season:
What it tells you: How well you’re doing at persuading those who contact you, or those who inquire for information, to come for a personal visit.
How to calculate: Get the percentage by dividing the number of inquiries you’ve had by the number of families who have come for a visit or tour. Keep track of each family’s status on a spreadsheet. This enables you to track them individually as well as at a cumulative level.
What it tells you: How many of those who contact your school end up applying for enrollment.
How to calculate: Take the number of applications, divide them by the number of total inquiries. Again, it’s a good idea to track them on an individual family basis.
What it tells you: Out of the number of families who visit your school, how many submitted an application?
This number, compared with the previous metrics, will help you determine whether you are losing potential applicants along your process. Even with a fantastic inquiry-to-visit ratio, if your visit-to-applicants score is low then your school tour or open house activities may need some tweaking.
How to calculate: Divide the number of applicants by the number of visits you’ve received, individually and cumulatively.
What it tells you: How many of your applicants finish the process and end up enrolling in your school. This can help you identify potential barriers in your application process.
How to calculate: Number of completed new student enrollments divided by the number of new applications.
What it tells you: Essentially, how satisfied your current families are with your school.
This metric is most useful later in the season as well as at the start of the next school year. However, keeping track of it from the start of reenrollment helps you to plan ahead and enables you to learn the patterns of your school community.
How to calculate: There are a few methods to calculate retention. My preference is to keep it simple.
Step 1: The key is to pick a start and end date for your enrollment year. This typically falls on October 1st up until September 30th of the next fall. This is so you can compare apples to apples each year. I like to put the date a month after school starts so that enrollment has already stabilized for the current academic year. The number of students you have on October 1st is your baseline total enrollment.
Step 2: To calculate for retention, I prefer this simple approach: Take the total number of students re-enrolled on the last day of the enrollment season. Then divide that number by your total possible enrollments. Finally, subtract the total number of your graduates from the total number of enrollments.
The number of enrolled students at the start of the enrollment year (October 1st) is 300. Subtract the total number of graduates. Let’s assume that there are 20 graduates.
300 - 20 = 280
The result (280) is what it would take to obtain 100% retention of your current students for the next fall. It is also the total number of possible students that could be enrolled as of October 1st.
Next, take the number of your newly re-enrolled families. You can usually get this number after re-enrollment has finished. This number will likely become clearer as you approach the start of school in the fall.
However, it depends on the type of re-enrollment strategy that you will use. One of the reasons why I'm a big fan of continuous re-enrollment is because you will be able to determine your retention rate earlier. This is due to most families being automatically re-enrolled.
The baseline number I like to use is the final number on the last day of your enrollment year. In my example, this is the last day of September.
Let's say that number is 270 students.
270 Re-enrolled Students / 280 Total Possible Students = 96% Retention
What it tells you: Which marketing tactics are working effectively to generate awareness and interest for your school.
Having reliable tracking systems in place is crucial in ensuring that you spend your marketing budget on tactics that work. It will be easier to track where your inquiries and new leads are coming from. You can also avoid spending on tactics that aren’t producing leads.
Most of online content inbound marketing tools come equipped with standard measurability. We recommend using Hubspot, as it has analytics, reports, and dashboards built-in, right out of the box. You can see detailed reports for every one of your marketing assets: your school's website, blog posts, social media accounts, calls-to-action, and more. You can then add specific reports to your dashboard so everything you need to see is right in one place.
For traditional methods, you can use designated landing pages, phone numbers, or codes, to get all this data.
How to calculate: Monitor and record how many inquiries come in from each marketing channel that you use (email marketing, social media, banner ads, radio, direct mail, print ads, etc.).
You can also divide the cost of each marketing channel by the number of inquiries. Do this to find out how much you’re paying for each lead. By the way, you’re bound to find out that online content marketing is far more cost-efficient than most traditional advertising forms.
7. Year-to-Year comparisons
What it tells you: How well your school is doing this year with admissions and enrollment as compared to the previous years.
How to calculate: Simply benchmark this year’s number of inquiries, applicants, and enrollments to the previous year. Go back up to five years, as appropriate, to track trends.
Taking the first step to achieve your goals of a properly implemented strategy for enrollment and admissions means acknowledging the need to keep track of valuable metrics as early as possible. The practice of keeping regular updates and maintaining a weekly overview is an essential part of your strategy. These metrics will provide the information to guide your next steps and will help you avoid the same mistakes once your school’s enrollment and admissions period arrives.
Once you have your spreadsheets and reporting systems in place, running these metrics weekly will be a negligible sacrifice of time that will pay dividends in productivity for your school admissions strategy and enrollment initiatives this year.
If you’d like some help getting these spreadsheets put together, you’re in luck: we’ve made a sample Admissions Reporting spreadsheet. It’s available as a free download below.