3 Keys to Unlocking Re-enrollment Success

Do you find yourself chasing down your current families all spring and even into June, July, and August begging and pleading with them to re-enroll?  Are you frustrated with the lack of response that you have gotten from your families from your current re-enrollment process?

This photo (click photo for link), “The Best Key Ever” is copyright (c) 2008 Michael Carian and made available under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

© 2008 Michael Carian. Creative Commons.  Click here for full citation (#6).

As an administrator, I’ve been there, and I can say, I never want to go back!  It’s no secret that a strong re-enrollment is vital for your school’s success.

In my years as a school administrator at Victory Baptist Academy, I have learned from experience that successful schools regularly return 90-95% of their students year after year, and while I would never be silly enough to think I have all (or even most) of the answers concerning re-enrollment, I have noticed some things that have worked at my school.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a successful re-enrollment season, and as an administrator, I have experienced both success and failure when it comes to keeping current students enrolled.

In 2012, during re-enrollment week at my school, 88% of the students recommited to returning the following year.  Although that fell short of the 90% mark I mentioned above, planning and budgeting for the following school year were much easier knowing that a high percentage of families were planning to return.  Here are a few things for you to consider.

 

1.  Get it on the calendar!  Do you have a set time for re-enrollment each year?  What gets on the calendar gets done!
  • I recommend putting re-enrollment on your school calendar (the one all your families get).  At VBA, re-enrollment is typically 1 week long, but you may have a timeframe that works better for your school.  Don’t make it too long though!
2.  Create a “culture of re-enrollment.”
  • Once it’s on the calendar, begin bringing the issue up with your families at least 4-6 weeks before it begins.  This should be done through blog posts, newsletters, emails, Facebook posts, tweets, etc.  The point is, let your families know that it’s coming.  I even get  teachers in on communicating this so that parents are bombarded with reminders about re-enrollment.
  • Create a sense of urgency by reminding your families that this is their opportunity to hold their child’s place at your school before enrollment is open to the public (if that is how you operate).  If you have several classes that are close to being full, let your families know this so that re-enrollment becomes a priority to them.  At Victory, once enrollment opens to the public (typically the 3rd week of February), families who have not re-enrolled understand that if their child’s class fills, their child will not have a seat in that class.
3.  Charge a nonrefundable re-enrollment fee that is discounted during your re-enrollment push.  This is probably one of the best things that we started doing to help encourage families to re-enroll early.
  • For the upcoming re-enrollment (1st week of February), I will be discounting the $199 re-enrollment fee to $89 for those who re-enroll and pay the fee during that week.  And this year, I’m going to try something new to encourage folks to re-enroll on the first day, by cutting the fee with a “cyber Monday” type deal.  For those who re-enroll and pay the fee the first day re-enrollment opens, I’m going to take another $10 off.  I’ll be sure to let you know how this ends up working or not working.
  • When families commit financially to a decision, they are less likely to change their minds later.  However, if they do change their mind, they understand that the fee is nonrefundable.
  • Re-enrollment fees allow our school to build up cash reserves, which especially helps us when it’s time to buy textbooks!

Re-enrollment is such an important time of year for Christian schools, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.  What strategies does your school employ to help make your re-enrollment successful?  

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Matt is the Assistant to the Editor here at the Focus Blog. He also serves as the Administrator at the Victory Baptist Academy of Weatherford, TX, as well as the President of the Texas Organization of Christian Schools. Matt and his wife, Kelly, have three children that keep them on their toes!