Summer Scramble: How to Enroll More Students

Light blue background with pink office supplies scattered beneath an open notebook with "School's Out for Summer" in whimsical, pink letters. There is a pink background across the bottom of the image with "but not marketing*" in white letters. This image accompanies a blog post outlining ways schools can maintain enrollment efforts throughout the summer. Truth Tree knows school marketing.

By Maggie Twaroski, Truth Tree Contributor

As summer sets in, your school may be wrapping up administrative projects, reassessing your marketing plans, and prepping your facilities for the new academic year. While summer can be a great time for planning and tying up loose ends, it’s also a time when enrollment numbers can fall. Prospective families are distracted with summer activities, and any campus tours that take place aren’t as lively with students gone and classrooms packed up. 

The good news is, keeping your enrollment momentum going during these next few months is achievable with the right marketing tactics. The key is being proactive and prioritizing long-term connections that will come into play closer to the start of the academic year. 

Let’s dive into what your school can do this summer to keep bringing in new students. 

Summer is a great time to start (or continue) building relationships with folks who can connect new students to your school. Families looking for a change will use the summer months to research schools, and will often look for recommendations from the professionals connected to their child’s personal and academic life–whether it’s psychologists, speech therapists, educational consultants, realtors, or others. 

Staying in contact with these professionals ensures your school is top of mind when families start asking for recommendations. Establish a communication plan that works for your team, such as setting up automated email check-ins, or scheduling time to call them. In addition to updating them on upcoming openings at your school, you might consider inviting them to a campus tour or school event so they can see your school “in action.” Not only do face-to-face events like these foster relationships, but they also give professionals the information and direct insights they need to make informed recommendations. 

Getting new students in the door for a summer camp is one of the best ways to get families excited about your school and increase enrollment come fall. It’s an opportunity for parents to get an up-close look at your facilities, get a taste of what your academic programs are like, and see how their child thrives in that environment. 

Missy Speyrer

Marketing & Sales, Truth Tree
Former Director of Auxiliary Programs at Ascension Episcopal School

If your school has a robust summer program and several families in the admissions pipeline who have yet to enroll, consider inviting them to attend a camp for free or at a discounted rate. Without ‘shadow days’ and lively tours to showcase your school during summer months, attending a camp could be a great way to create a connection!

But planning your summer camps is only half the battle–you need to effectively market your camps in order to get current and non-school families to register. Fortunately, summer camp marketing involves some of the same strategies you’re already doing, starting with your SEO

Let’s break this down:

Optimize keywords

To increase your chances of ranking in summer camp searches, you’ll want your landing pages to include popular and local keywords. Follow templates like:

  • Summer camp in [your location]
  • Summer camps for [age group]
  • Summer camps for [particular skill]

Make sure the keywords are relevant to the themes of your camp. Depending on your offerings, your targeted keywords might look something like this:

  • Summer art camps
  • Sports summer camps for high schoolers 
  • Summer camps for middle schoolers in Austin, TX

Claim your Google Business Profile

Second, make sure your Google business profile is up to date with your location and contact information, photos, website and social links, and hours of operation. Claiming and updating your business profile ensures that Google displays correct information to searchers, and improves your local search rankings. 

Consider PPC ads

Lastly, consider building momentum for your summer camps through PPC ads. While organic SEO certainly improves the visibility of your summer camp pages, it can be challenging to rank organically in the short summer camp season. PPC ads compensate for the time crunch by delivering immediate visibility to your ideal searchers. 

Screenshot of Meta Ads Manager 'edit' screen. This image accompanies text regarding PPC ads for schools as a part of an overall marketing strategy to enroll more students. Truth Tree is an award-winning digital marketing agency who works exclusively with schools.

PPC advertising provides immediate visibility, which is critical for new or competitive camps, and bypasses the lengthy process required to achieve high organic search rankings.”

–Olivier Rousseau, co-founder of Activity Messenger

Summer is a busy time for families, and even parents who are interested in your school may start to lag in their engagement as their summer plans accumulate. Staying in contact throughout these busy months ensures you’re staying top of mind, even if all they see is your school’s name appearing in your inbox. 

Speaking of inboxes, it’s worth noting that email still widely remains the most preferred method of communication. One survey found that 95% of prospective college students and their families placed email in their top two preferred communication methods. Of those, 76% said they wanted to hear from their prospective schools on a weekly basis. 

We can apply these preferences to K-12 school marketing as well, even in summer months when engagement may not be as active. The goal for these months should be to maintain visibility with your prospects, so that as the academic year approaches, they’re already familiar with your brand.

So, what should you include in your emails?

Anything that engages your prospects, showcases your school’s brand, and guides them further into the admissions funnel. School news, summer activities, calendar updates, and plans for the upcoming school year are all great to share. To automate this process, consider setting up a summer drip campaign to stay in regular contact with your prospects. 

As with the other summer marketing tactics we’ve mentioned thus far, social media marketing is all about keeping your school top of mind for the moment families are ready to take action. Whether it’s signing up for a summer camp, registering for an event, or starting the enrollment process, social media acts as a friendly reminder. 

Summer is the time to be creative with your content and show current and prospective families a different side of your school’s culture than they’ll see in the academic year. Make your summer social media content fun and engaging by posting photos and bios of new families, posting a daily countdown to the first day of school, or highlights from your summer events. 

You can even encourage families to participate in your social media content by creating a branded hashtag they can use with their photos throughout the summer (or all year-round!). By sharing user-generated content, you’re letting prospective families see what others enjoy about your school–their “why” for enrolling. This candid content can go a long way with new families. 

Even though engagement may look different in the summer months, maintaining visibility with your current and prospective families will have a positive impact on your potential to enroll more students as the new school year approaches. In the coming months, work on building relationships with the educational professionals who can connect new students to your school, and stay in contact with families over email and social media. If you’re offering summer camps this year, be sure to apply SEO best practices and PPC advertising to get your website in front of the right eyes.

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