Not all schools have to worry about summer admission, but for those that do, attracting mission-appropriate students and providing the families with a meaningful experience is often the difference between a new student or an empty desk.
Over the past 7 years, I have gathered data from Washington, DC area school that indicates an 18% rise in total applications coming after the application deadline. With more families, ringing your proverbial doorbell in the summer, it’s time to get ready!
1. Make hand-shot videos – we all have the 3-5 minute, professionally shot, school promo videos. These are great and likely a prime reason the family rang your doorbell in the first place. But they are window dressing and don’t capture the essence of a visit to the classroom on a tour. So make one for them. Shoot 3-5 minutes in a class while they are doing something unique during the school year. Do this for several classes and specials throughout the spring. When a family comes on campus, rather than show them just empty rooms, show them what happened a few weeks/months ago in that room. They don’t have to be top-of-the-line. What matters is authenticity. It will come through.
2. Bring in the experts – When a parent contacts you for a 7th grade tour, don’t schedule it right away. Find out about the student first: his/her likes, interests, favorite subjects, etc. Then see if members of the same class and/or a teacher from her favorite subject can be on campus a day in the near future. Then schedule the tour. If painting is his favorite activity, have the art teacher on campus to do a 10-minute art project with him. If no one can come on campus, ask them if they could shoot a quick phone vid saying, ‘hey’ to the prospect and a little promo about the school, and pass it along.
3. Leave a little lettuce for later – People who say better late than never clearly never inquired about financial aid after the distribution date. You should always grant more aid than you have unless you are Ultra School #1. If you’re not, some of it will come back through non-accepts and late attrition. Don’t throw that money around. Leave a little for the summer when other school’s FA budgets have dried and you can still offer a much-needed grant to a mission-appropriate prospect.
4. Ad, the unexpected – Look back at least 5 years of data and determine why you received an application in the late spring or summer. Of the top three reasons families applied, how are they unique and what do they have in common? Can you create a micro-marketing strategy for people who are in the same boat? Come on. I know you can….so stop smiling and get to it!