Recruiting students to private schools is a difficult task, and we’ve addressed ways to improve private school student recruitment. One of the areas of focus in the steps we’ve laid out for improving these efforts is a simultaneous engagement of parent/caregiver/guardian and student. There are a number of reasons we’ll deep dive into why this dual engagement is an absolute vital tactic to recruitment and enrollment at private schools.
These include but aren't limited to: The decision making process, the differences in areas of focus for parent versus student, and making the decision making process friction-less by getting student and parent on same page.
The Decision Making Process
No matter the level, deciding what school you’d like to attend is a detailed and, some would say, daunting process. It’s what we call a consideration buy. What this means is that there are many factors for the buyer to consider before making a decision. The process can take quite some time, usually correlated to the dollar amount being spent, and the purchaser needs very detailed information and will do a lot of their own preliminary research prior to buying. If this doesn’t define part of what it’s like to choose which private school to go to, then nothing does. The point is, recognizing what the decision making process looks like for your students is extremely important.
The other layer of complication in this process is there are two personas that you’re catering to: the parent/guardian and the student. Each have their own ideas, wants, needs, and desires for how they would like to make this decision. Make a concerted effort to include both student and parent throughout the journey. This piece of advice is both literal and figurative. While there will obviously be some elements of the discussion that are exclusive to either parents or the potential student (i.e. cost of tuition vs. club activities), the process should still feel inclusive of both.
The Areas of Focus
Another reason why dual engagement is of the utmost importance is in the fact that the parent and student are naturally going to have different areas of focus, so you have to be able to address both. In practical terms and considering logistics, you’ll probably be forced to address these areas of focus at the same time. It is a challenge but mastering this can have great results, including shortening the sales cycle. Now imagine the exponential growth that can take place if you are able to shave time off the decision-making process for each prospective family.
Parents/Guardians areas of focus are likely to include:
- Tuition costs
- Financial aid available
- Course load/work
- Path to graduation
- College preparedness/placement success
- Esteemed faculty and alumni
Prospective Students Focus:
- Other types of students that attend the school
- Social activities
- School-sanctioned clubs
- Sports Teams
- School hours/Schedule/Typical day
- College placement
The Authoritative Guide to Student Recruitment
Another tactic you should use in a dual-engagement strategy is creating a frictionless decision making system. Frictionless decision-making or frictionless buying in a general sense is making it as easy as possible for your persona to make a decision or buy. In the context of this discussion, the way you go about doing so is by making sure the dissemination of information is consistent and provides value to both student and guardian. This is more about having a system in place to deliver the right message at the right time to each one of these personas.Not having this system in place leads to a build up of friction in the process which slows it down and can ultimately bring it to a halt.
If you’re funneling information only to the parent/guardian, it’s very easy for the student to disrupt the process and bring it to a screeching halt.You may think that ultimately because they are the authority figure in the equation, and likely paying the tuition, the parent has the final say. This isn’t always the case and by catering exclusively to one side, you run the risk of creating friction. The same logic applies in the reverse where info and engagement focuses solely or heavily on the prospective student which causes friction on the parent's side, making it harder for a buying decision to be made.
Engaging parents and students simultaneously is absolutely necessary for private school student recruitment. Not only because of the competing interest of the student versus the parent, but also because of the way the decision-making process works when considering potential schools and the time that can be saved by creating a frictionless decision-making environment.
Important tactics we laid out in a previous blog post, include highlighting stellar programs, developing a talent pipeline, making campus and staff accessible and PR/Community outreach. Do you have any additional reasons why simultaneous engagement of parents and students is an important tactic for recruiting students to private school? If so, please feel free to contribute to the discussion in the comment section below.