Keeping admission rates high is essential, especially now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. It’s why many school administrators nowadays busy themselves developing admission strategies and learning how to increase admission in schools.
But what happens when schools see significant declines in enrollment? What are the causes of declining admission rates? And, finally, how can a school increase admissions? Let’s talk about these and more in this article.
What Happens When Enrollment Rates Are Too Low?
Even before the pandemic, enrollment rates have been declining in many parts of the world. And COVID-19 didn’t help. School districts are losing students by the thousands as parents aren’t too keen on the thought of face-to-face or even virtual classes. What does this mean for schools?
With thousands of parents choosing not to enroll their children, private schools lose millions of dollars in tuition fees. Public schools, on the other hand, get less funding from the state.
One determining factor of how much budget a public school gets is the number of enrolled students. Most states look at previous enrollment figures, though, so schools may not necessarily feel the effects of the decline until later years.
Employee salaries often take up a considerable chunk of a school’s budget, and smaller budgets could mean teachers getting laid off. Budget cuts cause lower achievement in students and are primarily linked to lower test scores. Budget cuts also typically affect those in lower-income households.
But why is there a decline in the first place?
4 Likely Reasons for Declining School Admission Rates
The world’s current battle with COVID-19 is one of the main reasons for declining enrollment rates for the past two years. Lockdowns and strict community protocols have forced children out of schools. Some parents just didn’t think that children needed to continue with education amidst the pandemic.
But we can’t blame it all on COVID-19, can we? So let’s set that aside for a moment and take a look at the other reasons why school admissions may be decreasing.
Reason #1: Marketing Issues
While most public schools don’t rely on school marketing and campaigns, the same can’t be said for private schools and universities. Private learning institutions need marketing professionals to make the school’s story as appealing and convincing as possible.
Reason #2: Staffing Issues
It’s good for school leadership to want to know how to increase admission in schools, but it’s not the only quality that makes for a good leader. School leadership and staff members must work harmoniously so they can focus on providing better education and learning environments for their students. It’d be difficult for schools to prosper if parents and students don’t see eye to eye with school leadership and staff members as well.
Reason #3: Financial Issues
Parents also cite financial problems as reasons for not enrolling their children in school. In the past, declining school enrollment has always been an indirect effect of pandemics and economic recessions. When either or both parents lose their jobs, kids may sometimes be forced to stay out of school to try and reduce household expenses.
College admissions are even more affected than primary and secondary enrollment rates. However, a strong economy is more likely to blame. The unemployment rate on high school dropouts was much lower than the enrollment rate on high school graduates from October 2019 to October 2020. This could mean that more students are dropping out of school, or postponing college, to pursue employment opportunities.
Reason #4: Technological Issues and Advancements
Technology can be both beneficial and detrimental to school admission rates. Technology makes it easy for schools to conduct fully virtual classes, offering some flexibility to students and their parents. Nowadays, it’s possible to turn the admission process into an entirely virtual one with online admissions.
But, nowadays, it’s quite easy to learn necessary skills online without having to enroll in schools and colleges. You can get certificates for finished courses and examinations without having to pay for the classes themselves.
Many freelancers get to use skills they’ve learned and developed online. Luckily for them, many employers care little about diplomas and school records when skilled employees can perform the job just as well.
How to Increase Admission in Schools: 5 Effective Ways to Increase Enrollment
Are you seeing a noticeable decline in your school’s admission rate? Are you looking for ways to increase school admissions? Here are some school admission campaign ideas and other ways on how to increase admission in schools:
1. Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Let’s start this list of how to increase admission in schools with one of the most basic marketing strategies: word of mouth. How does it work?
School programs are typically known to those who are already part of the school community. This includes the teachers, the staff members, the students, and their families. Announcing new programs may make for excited students, but it should be the staff members and the parents that you should be focusing on.
If you can get the parents, teachers, and staff members excited about the school’s programs, there’s a bigger chance that they’d spread the news to other grown-ups in the area. And if that doesn’t sound like some great, organic marketing, then we don’t know what is!
Send email newsletters to your parent mailing list to make it easier for them to spread the word. And don’t be embarrassed to ask for reviews, testimonials, and referrals!
2. Open a Referral Program
Referral programs are a great way to incentivize and reward parents, students, and staff members who help your marketing efforts. Some schools give tuition fee discounts or gift certificates for every successful referral from a new family. Not only does this help your school increase its enrollment rate, but it also encourages parents to enroll and keep their children in school.
When planning a referral program, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure that you can make good on your promises of rewards and incentives.
- Carefully evaluate applications and track their progress. Notify referrers and their referrals about their application status.
- Make a detailed timeline, set deadlines, and ensure that successful referrers know when and how they will receive their rewards.
- Let your referrers know if there’s a limit on the discounts they can receive or the number of families they can refer to the school.
- Appreciate those who send in referrals by way of thank you emails.
- Focus on delivering quality, and take feedback seriously. Conduct surveys to learn which parts of your programs work and which don’t.
Successful referral programs aren’t made overnight. Even if you started today, it could take months or years before you see any real results from referral programs.
3. Leverage Social Media Marketing
Learning how to leverage social media can help you get some good publicity.
Does your school have a great parent community? Does your school have highly competent and equally compassionate teachers? Are your teachers well-equipped with knowledge and tools to teach special education? Think about what makes your school the best. Think of all the qualities that set it apart from others.
Success stories and student achievements are always shareable content. And you’re going to want to use these stories to speak to your target audiences. Here are some tips to help you with social media management:
Social Media Tip #1: Hire Someone to Do the Job
A dedicated social media manager or a social media marketing team should handle your school’s social media account. Social media marketing teams should know how to engage leads and customers while making sure that your online reputation is as clean as can be. They also need to know how to grow your accounts’ following.
Social Media Tip #2: Provide Social Media Training
Staff members outside your marketing team can also help your social media marketing efforts. Provide your staff members with some basic social media training and proper social media etiquette. This way, they can embody your school values and virtues online and attract positive social media attention.
Social Media Tip #3: Craft High-Quality Content
Market and target research and analysis can help you plan your campaign. They allow you to find out who your target audience is and what they like to see. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are some of the teenagers’ most used social networking sites, but your leads aren’t just teenagers. You could be speaking to their parents, guardians, older siblings, and other grown-ups too. Carefully curated content speaks volumes to your target audience.
Social Media Tip #4: Keep Posts Clear and Concise
According to the CEO of Chartbeat, the average person spends 15 seconds or less on any webpage. Most people would even click “Share” without actually reading the whole post. This is the exact reason why social media posts shouldn’t be too long. Any longer than a minute read, and you’re risking losing around 55% of your target audience.
Bonus Tip: Keep Your Website Updated
You can use your website’s blog and news sections if you don’t want to clutter your social media accounts with long captions. Just put the link to the webpage for those who’d like a more detailed explanation of your SNS post. It’ll improve communication within the school community, save you time and money on inquiries, and even enhance your school’s image. Make sure to make your school website mobile-friendly too.
4. Switch to Online Admissions
Admissions are a busy time for many schools. In the past, people would line up in school halls for admission inquiries and school tours. Now, most parents won’t risk their health standing in a queue with hundreds of other parents who want to enroll their children into school. And it’s not their fault for wanting otherwise. It’s our job to adjust to this new normal.
Switching to online admissions and using an online admission system is one of the best ways to increase school admission rates this 2021. Many education management systems like GoSchooler have online admission features that allow parents to enroll their children without leaving the comforts and the safety of their homes.
Since students will most likely be attending online classes, it makes sense for admissions to be online as well. GoSchooler and other similar software solutions provide features such as:
- Online fee payments
- SMS and email notification systems
- Student registration
- Admission inquiry
- New student tracking
- Admission reports
This means that every part of the student admission system can be done online. And aside from the convenience, there are many other benefits of online admissions too. Invest in an applicant tracking software or a comprehensive school management system.
5. Automate Marketing for Schools
Some marketing efforts may not sit well with automation, but there are a good number of marketing efforts that you can automate. Generating, nurturing, and organizing leads can be time-consuming too. So why not automate the process?
- Automated web design services can help create attractive landing pages, user-friendly websites, and practical website layouts. Heat maps can also help analyze website visitor behavior for better UX/UI designs.
- Read receipts and email management tools can help you determine the best day and time to pursue and nurture leads. Optimize your send time so you can reach more leads at their most convenient time. However, be careful not to overgeneralize and use generic, no value-added email templates. Personalized emails are far more interesting than generic ones.
- Market analysis tools can help with reports, market segregation, and many others. Since every market is different, knowing who your market is can help you strategize better.
- Chatbots can help manage online inquiries and reduce the number of people needing help from an actual staff member. They’re quite helpful in determining pain points to the admission process and are available to answer basic questions 24/7.
You’d think that the pandemic will cause enrollment rates to soar since children won’t have much to do at home. But the opposite is actually true. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than a year ago, its effects on enrollment rates are finally starting to show. But there are still many ways that can help increase admission in schools.
Word-of-mouth marketing, social media marketing, automated marketing, referral programs, and online admissions are some of the most effective ways that you can increase enrollment rates.