For most independent schools this weekend or last weekend marked a very special day: PARENT’S WEEKEND. It is special for two reasons: 1) we all get a break, and 2) we are presented with an excellent opportunity to impress. I think we can all agree the first reason is self-explanatory, so this blog post will focus on the latter.
Your campus is buzzing with current families. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings have officially infiltrated your campus. Forget about getting any “office” work done this weekend because it will be impossible with the plethora of visitors that will randomly stop by to “say hi”.
Not to worry, however, because the work you can accomplish this weekend will far exceed any tedious office maintenance you can perform. Here is how you can claim a “home-run” on parents weekend:
1. Be a presence!
Don’t stay in your office all day rather be a presence on campus. Ensure that you have a chance to connect with as many parents as you can. Remember, while they are now “current parents” you are still the face of their child’s school; you were the first person with whom they came into contact and the majority of them feel a sense of comfort in you.
2. Word of mouth! Now that you have converted these inquiries into enrollments, use your resources and use them wisely! Your current parents/families can be a robust source of knowledge and better yet, they can help you in admissions.
Advise them of where you will be traveling and invite/encourage them to meet with you. Are you headed to a school fair in their area? If so, invite them to join you. There is no harm, in fact there is only an advantage, in having a current parent support you at a fair. Moreover, maybe you have a family or a few families from a specific geographical region for which you have yet to fully “tap into”. If so, propose the idea of hosting an admissions gathering at their house. You will soon find that these families will do anything to advertise where their son/daughter attends school. They can help you tap into a niche market area. Let them.
3. Retention: the core of our job in admissions. The more students you retain, the less work you have to do for the upcoming admission season. Make each and every family feel like they are getting a “return on their investment”. Far too often we, as admission officers, believe our job is finished once we have the signed contract in hand. Wrong. The battle continues until they graduate from your school. Foster and sustain this relationship and continue to prove to each and every family that their investment was a worthwhile one.
4. Siblings. Have you spotted any? If so, make an impression on them. Can you knock out a subtle interview while they are sitting outside their siblings classroom? Open their eyes to the possibility of their success at your school. Involve them. They are at your fingertips; if you can make them feel a part of the “family” then perhaps they might express an interest as they travel home with their parents.
That’s all for now. Seize every opportunity to connect with those whom believe in your institution and have already committed to your mission.