Running a Private School

Get help and guidance on running a private school. Find guidance and resources related to administration, fundraising and marketing. Explore strategic plan development, creative fundraising ideas and the latest technology uses in marketing.
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A decade ago you spent a fortune on a gorgeous catalog and a couple of recruiting trips. Then you waited. If you had gotten your catalogs into the right hands and had a good turnout for your recruiting trips, you were in good shape. The applications came in hopefully in a three to one ratio. All was well.

That approach doesn't work very well today. Your demographics have changed. More and more of your target parents belong to Generation Y. They get their information from social media.

The diversity goals your school has require different approaches too. You need to extend the reach of your advertising campaigns by using social media which is easily shared. Your market has become more segmented and much more competitive. As the economic outlook makes the future look more and more uncertain parents are examining the educational foundations which their children will need in order to be successful in their adult lives.

The uncertain enconomy which has dogged us since 2008 causes financial concerns for both you and your school and your current and prospective families.

That's where social media comes in. Done well, social media will improve your admissions yield. Done consistently, social media can cement value in place in the minds of your target audience.

But remember: social media is still marketing. It requires planning and execution of that marketing plan to work. It cannot be a hit or miss approach. Neither can you leave your marketing
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The way we use social media in the private K-12 school setting is a bit different from the way social media is used by businesses. Businesses are looking to develop a client list from their social media efforts. They need clients in order to sell them their products and services. Private schools, on the other hand, seek to promote their community with a view to attracting new families and students. Let's look at some more differences and also some strategies and techniques which will help make your school's social media program successful.
 
Dedicate resources to social media.
 
My first bit of advice is simple but really quite necessary: devote some resources to your social media program. Your school's web site used to be the only front door your school had. It was the first thing people saw. Now it is the first thing parents or anybody over the age of 40 will see. Facebook and YouTube are your new front doors for folks under the age of 30. This video gives you a comprehensive overview of social media and what it can do for your school.
 
 
You have never been casual about creating your catalog, have you? Remember catalogs? Your catalog and other printed materials which you give to prospective families are always professionally produced, aren't they? They also cost a fortune, don't they? Your social media deserves the same professional approach. Therefore be sure to allocate staff time and money in your operating budget for social
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In this overview of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for private schools we take a look at what your readers see each time they visit your web site. SEO for Private Schools - Part 1 explained some of the elements of SEO which have to happen behind the curtain. Now we are focused on the exterior or what your readers see and experience.  

Message

What is your message? If you don't have a message, then how can your readers determine whether your school is a good fit for them and their requirements? I can hear you saying "Parents have to visit our school in order to truly understand what it is we do." That's true, but in this age of instant answers, parents make snap decisions based on their perceptions and first impressions.

So, right there on your first page or Splash Page as it is called, you need to make sure your message appears. Let me give you an example: One of the things a reader will see first is the Title Bar at the top left of his bowser. That's one place where what you do behind the curtain with meta tags is actually visible to your reader. Take a look at Andover's web site to see how this works. As soon as the page comes up the title in the top left corner identifies Andover as an independent boarding school. If that's not the kind of school you are
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Introduction
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a mystery to the uninitiated. It is one of those arcane sciences that webmasters everywhere have to be aware of. Unfortunately the mention of SEO for the rest of us prompts most of us to start reading email and texting friends. It's all so technical. The truth is that good SEO can enhance your marketing efforts. It can make your school more visible to the audience which you are trying to reach. Poor or non-existent SEO will bury your site so that it is practically invisible. So, ignore SEO at your own peril. At the least get your arms around the basics so that you can supervise your web management and design team authoritatively.

Basics
What is Search Engine Optimization? In its simplest terms SEO is making sure that your site's meta tags and content are optimized so that parents and students can find your site easily when they type specific words into a search engine. For example, if you ask Google to show results for the words "private schools" , it will oblige wWith millions of sites which have something to do with "private schools". But be more specific and ask Google to find you private schools in Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, and instantly your search results will narrow and be more focused. That's the point of SEO. To make your Web site more visible.

10 years ago SEO didn't matter much. The Web was just beginning to
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You worked harder than you ever thought you possibly could. Your teachers demanded excellence. Your best. There were many times when you doubted your own ablities to make it. In the end they knew what they were doing. They also knew what you were acapable of. They helped lay that solid foundation for success in later life.
 
Your coaches refined your game. Showed your tips and tricks which made your more competitive. All without losing sight of good sportmanship and the benefits of regular exercise and physical activity.
 
But most importantly you graduated from your school with the best thing of all: a network of friends and classmates which will be yours for life.
 
Now it's time to consider how to give something back to that amazing school which nurtured you. Don't worry that your gift will be too small to matter. Give what you can.
 
Here are five ways in which you can support your school.
 
Annual Giving
 
Annual giving is the foundation of most private schools' fundraising efforts. Typically graduates, or alumni/alumnae as they are called,  are encouraged to make a gift every year in support of their school. It's the same concept as the gift you make to support your public radio station or other charity. The gifts range from small amounts to $5,000, $10,000 or more depending on the graduate's financial strength and capabilities. Parents and grandparents are often asked to support the school in this way as well. This has a certain appeal to families which have sent several generations
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Running a Private School

Administrative

Here you'll find information on the administrative side of running a private school. We'll cover strategic plan development, state regulations, human resources and school safety. Learn more about the obstacles of taking over a struggling school, get tips on hiring a headmaster, and receive expert advice on dealing with bad press.

Fund-raising

Private schools often need to be creative when it comes to funding. This section provides tools, tips and resources on fundraising. Learn more about supporting your school, how to handle major gifts, and why keeping in touch with graduates can benefit your budget.

Marketing and Technology

Advances in technology have changed the way businesses market themselves. This section provides tips on social media marketing, information on the latest technology being used and SEO basics for private schools.