Even as you're finishing phase 1 of your admission decision-making process, phases 2 and 3 are underway...and this time of year often involves a good deal of data gathering and analysis. While the spring and summer typically flow at a different pace from the new-student focus of the fall and winter months, we know that you are juggling multiple (and competing) priorities at this time of year.
As independent school boards move towards late spring and early summer meetings, it is likely that you will be expected to share information about enrollment trends and your school's enrollment activity over the last year. Trustees rely on you to explain any local, regional, national and (particularly this year) international trends that are affecting your school's enrollment. As you prepare to report, I have a few words of advice:
First, establish which trends are having the greatest impact on your school's ability to meet with enrollment success. Are you dealing with challenging local demographic trends? Have you been surprised by a particular grade not being filled due to an external competitor (e.g. new charter school opening)? Are you feeling the "Trump effect" in your international student numbers? Are you getting more requests for financial assistance? Do your best to quantify those trends as you report them out to the board.
Second, build a narrative for the board regarding where your school stands with enrollment today and support it well with data. Detail all areas which contribute to your long-term enrollment goals. While a focus on new students is important, it's just as critical for you to educate trustees on the importance of student retention, the effects of your marketing efforts, financial aid trends, your school's brand in the marketplace, and any market research findings that play a role in enrollment success.
Be the enrollment expert for your head of school and board. It is essential to create synergy between the offices of admission, business, and the head of school to most effectively provide context for your current enrollment outlook. Be sure to collaborate with school leaders to provide this context for your school's trustees. If you are still looking for students, give your board a plan for how you will work hard to reach the established goals, including data from previous years about the number of new students added between now and opening day!
Finally, lean on The Enrollment Management Association for support and resources! Watch for a new special report from our association which should land in schools shortly, titled "What Heads Need to Know About Enrollment Management." (This report applies to all school leaders, so distribute it far beyond the head's office to trustees and senior administrators.) Also, check out our online board reporting resources.
Here's to your success in the weeks ahead! We're here for you.