How Schools Can Approach the Admissions/Enrollment Process During the COVID 19 School Closures
As school closures stretch on into mid-April and threaten the remaining weeks of the current school year, schools are being faced with the task of not only educating students from afar, but also maintaining strategies for attracting new students and families for enrollment. This time of year, usually brings registration events, community welcomes, and general on-boarding procedures for incoming families, and early inquiries and requests for information from the next pool of student candidates.
As summer approaches it is essential for school administration to begin thinking of alternative ways to continue the admissions process and provide an informative and inviting pathway for prospective families to choose to enroll in their school. So how should administration and admissions personnel accomplish these goals? The best way to approach these unusual times is to start with a self-assessment.
How are we serving our current students and families during school closures?
- Articulating the ways you are serving your current families during this difficult time is key to maintaining positive word of mouth recommendations from parents to new families. It is also positive to be able to explain to current families how your teachers and administration continue to work on behalf of students to reassure them their tuition dollars are positively impacting their children even though they are not on campus.
What events on the admissions calendar need to be completed prior to the end of the calendared school year?
- Consider shifting these interactions to online forums or communications and create a timeline or frequency schedule of these communications, brainstorming topics for each.
What needs to be done for accepted students and their families in terms of on-boarding and preparation for the 2020-2021 school year?
- Assess the information you usually provide to incoming families. Plan for answering frequently asked questions, communicating with them both over the phone, through email and possibly over Zoom or Skype, and sourcing responses for additional questions incoming families may have.
How will we manage the scholarship/choice portion of registration and payments?
- With the finance officer of the school, identify what information is key for parents to have in assessing whether they can afford to send their child to your school.
- Have ready important contact information for parents who are using a scholarship, so that parents have easy access to entities that can assist them.
- North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority – state agency that administers the scholarship programs 1-855-330-3955 OpportunityScholarships@ncseaa.edu
- Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina – parent advocacy organization that can provide parents with support in using their scholarship and provide basic guidance in the application/scholarship acceptance process 919-760-7167 email@example.com
How do we continue to fulfill our mission throughout the extended break from typical instruction?
- Our mission is our reason for our school’s existence. Take time to highlight how your work is continuing to serve those given to your care and those you hope to welcome to your communities.
Managing Enrollment and Admissions Digitally
Continue face to face interactions via Zoom, Loom, and other digital platforms to perform introductions and initial contact:
- Zoom is a digital meeting tool which allow you to have one on one or group interactions, share screens to show images and slides, and allow for larger groups to ask questions.
- Loom will allow you to record video of yourself while you can navigate multiple screen planes on your computer to give instruction and overviews to educate prospective students and their parents. These videos can be sent directly to parents and students to help introduce them to you and the admissions process.
- Zoom: zoom.us:
Produce digital admissions overviews and brochures
- Digitize the usual admissions packet you would give during in-person contact when families visit schools to provide an overview of academics, co-curricular, and formation opportunities.
- Consider including scholarship informational flyers (printable version found HERE, HERE, and HERE) in your admissions packet so that parents have the full scope of what state-funded programs are available to them.
School tours for prospective families:
- Tours are an essential way we sell our school and develop a rapport with prospective families. Virtual tours can be made individually or with a small group and pieced together using basic software available for free or at low cost. Schools can also create a vlog style tour to be uploaded on YouTube.
- Consider what stock photos and videos you have on file that can be pieced together in a Power Point or video to help build the vision of what your school is all about. While families may not be physically visiting your school, this could give them a sense of what they would experience if they were in the building on any given day.
Orienting incoming families to school protocols and procedures:
- Without the benefit of welcome sessions on campus, you can still help incoming families at either the elementary or high school level with school facts and procedures through a school guidebook:
- Provide an overview via printable form for incoming freshmen at the high school level to register for classes and have counselors schedule one on one meetings via Skype or Zoom to talk through schedules, welcome students to the school, and answer any questions they may have.
Managing enrollment as it relates to tuition and scholarships:
- Have your finance team film videos on basics of tuition payment for enrolling families and the options for payment.
- Film informational videos on Loom that show how to make payments or set up auto-payments for tuition.
- Provide overviews of available scholarship options or provide links to organizations that oversee scholarships for parents.
Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina – parent advocacy organization that can provide parents with support in using their scholarship and provide basic guidance in the application/scholarship acceptance process 919-760-7167 firstname.lastname@example.org
- For high schools, have your guidance department hold digital one-on-one meetings with returning students to plan scheduling. This not only allows the counseling department to check-in with their students, but also helps students feel comfortable that when they do return to campus, their path towards graduation is on schedule.
- For elementary schools, if online registration is not used already, make sure registration forms are downloadable from your school website or easily sent via email. Make sure the forms can either be completed digitally or are easy for parents to fill out by hand to scan and return prior to registration deadlines.
Other tips for managing admissions
- Carry out admissions information events/open houses via Zoom webinar https://zoom.us/webinar
- Carry out digital open houses using Loom videos filmed by administrators, club moderators, coaches and your finance department that can be accessed at any time by prospective students and families from your website.
Current student retention
- Have administrators and non-teaching staff make phone calls to each student/family every few weeks to check on their well-being, stay in contact, and answer any questions they, or their parents, may have.
- Provide examples of how teachers and school staff are continuing to educate and serve students daily via social media posts, school newsletters, and direct emails from administration.
- Ask your finance department, in conjunction with your Director of Admissions, to hold a webinar related to scholarships available from the school and other organizations to provide tips for affording your school. Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina would make every effort to make themselves available for a webinar that explains scholarships to families – either how to apply or steps to take to use the scholarship when awarded.
Special thanks to American Federation for Children for their support in creating this set of recommendations.