Today, we’re diving into an often overlooked but crucial aspect of understanding our schools’ appeal: surveying families who decided not to enroll.
As you may know, over the past couple of years, many schools have witnessed a drop in enrollment, particularly in K-12 public school districts. National data shows a mass exodus of around one million fewer students enrolled in public schools since 2019. Why? The data doesn’t really know. Though official data can tell you there is a drop in enrollment, it can’t indicate the nuance behind these numbers. It can’t tell you, specifically as a district or school, if there is a controllable reason behind these statistics. There are so many factors that are contributing to your enrollment, whether it has increased, decreased or stayed the same. Ultimately, this is why it’s important to embrace what you have some control over understanding and taking action on.
Bill Gates once said that your greatest source of learning is from dissatisfied customers. Though knocking on the doors (metaphorically) of those who didn’t choose your school is intimidating, we’re about to tell you why its value outweighs any discomfort.
Unearth valuable insights
Think of these non-enrolled families as untapped gold mines of information. By surveying them, you gain direct access to their thoughts, perceptions, and concerns. Their feedback can uncover blind spots in your school’s marketing, admissions process, or even program offerings. This treasure trove of insights enables you to make data-driven decisions and refine your approach to attract and retain more families in the future. In general, research shows that surveys enable schools to operate and make decisions in a more strategic manner.
Understand the “why”
Sure, it’s disappointing when families choose not to enroll at your school. But understanding the reasons behind their decision is invaluable. Surveys give you a chance to uncover the “why” and pinpoint any pain points they encountered during their decision-making process. Was it tuition concerns? Location? Curriculum fit? By learning from their experiences, you can adapt your strategies and address those concerns head-on.
Enhance communication and messaging
Surveying non-enrolled families provides an opportunity to reassess your communication and messaging strategies. Do they feel informed about your school’s unique selling points? Are there misconceptions that need to be clarified? By gathering their feedback, you can refine your messaging and tailor it to better resonate with your target audience, ensuring that future families are armed with all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Strengthen enrollment strategies
The insights gathered from non-enrolled families can revamp your enrollment strategies. By understanding why families choose alternative options, you can identify areas for improvement. Perhaps your school lacks certain programs, extracurricular activities, or support services that families value. Armed with this knowledge, you can enhance your offerings to better meet their expectations and position your school as an irresistible choice.
Foster a culture of continuous improvement
Surveying families who didn’t enroll reflects a commitment to continuous improvement. It demonstrates that you value feedback and are genuinely invested in creating an exceptional educational experience. This fosters a positive reputation and can even prompt families to reconsider your school in the future, knowing that their input is genuinely valued.
Embrace the opportunity to learn from these families, refine your methods, and unlock new pathways to success. Let’s shape a future where every family feels welcome and eager to enroll in your school! Remember, it’s not just about winning families over; it’s about listening, adapting, and constantly evolving.
If you conduct other surveys within your school community, you are likely aware of the different tools to help you create and administer these surveys. In the case that you aren’t or are looking to mix things up, we’ve got you covered with some resources. You can use a site like Survey Monkey or create a survey using Google Forms yourself. In addition, sites like Schoolmint create these surveys for you.
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- About the Author
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Brand Journalist Gabby Esposito is a student at the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in journalism and philosophy. As a Brand Journalist with School Comms Lab and Holdsworth Communications, she works to tell the stories of brands and businesses, including schools.
Her articles are an organic form of PR, branding, and marketing. She is passionate about sharing the stories of others—big or small—and learning about lives and ideas that are different from her own. She has written for publications including Her Campus and UConn.
Gabby is from Connecticut and enjoys spending time with her family, dog, and two cats. Aside from writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, watching Tik Toks, and listening to podcasts.