Admissions Matters: Following Up, The Competition, & Deadlines

Admissions Matters: Following Up, The Competition, & Deadlines
Navigating the complex landscape of private high school admissions requires expertise and insight. This article delves into essential areas that every school should master: inquiry follow-up, standing out in a competitive market, and choosing between rolling admissions and fixed admissions deadlines.

Navigating the complex landscape of private high school admissions requires expertise and insight. This article delves into essential areas that every school should master:

  • Inquiry follow-up
  • Standing out in a competitive market
  • Choosing between rolling admissions and fixed admissions deadlines

Discover effective strategies for personalized inquiry follow-ups that engage prospective families. Learn how to differentiate your school from competitors by identifying your unique selling points. Understand the implications of choosing rolling admissions or a fixed admissions deadline and what it means for your school's operations and appeal. Whether you are an admissions professional or a school leader, this article provides actionable insights to elevate your admissions process.

Inquiry Follow-up

Personalized Email Response

Acknowledge each inquiry with a personalized email response. Address the person by their name and answer any specific questions they might have asked. If they didn't ask any specific questions, briefly introduce the school and what it offers.

Regular Newsletters

Send regular newsletters about the school's activities, achievements, and updates. These could also include student testimonials, information about the faculty, and details about the curriculum. It's an excellent way to keep prospective students and parents engaged.

Phone Follow-Up

If the inquirer has provided a phone number, make a personal call after sending an initial email. Your call gives a personal touch and can help answer any immediate questions the person may have.

Virtual Information Sessions

Virtual information sessions can effectively give a more detailed overview of the school's offerings. Invite the inquirers to these sessions, where they can interact directly with faculty or admissions staff.

School Tours

Whenever possible, invite the inquirers for a school tour. Nothing can beat the impact of a prospective student seeing the campus, meeting teachers, and maybe even attending a class or two.

Regular Follow-Ups

It's not enough to send just one email or make one phone call. Plan a series of follow-ups. But remember, there's a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. So, space out your follow-ups appropriately.

Personalized Admissions Portal

If your website supports it, create a personalized portal for each inquirer. Here, they can see the progress of their application, receive personalized messages, and easily find out more information about the school.

Social Media Engagement

Encourage them to follow your school on social media. Regular posts about school activities can keep them engaged and excited.

Direct Mail

If you have their mailing address, consider sending a packet of information about the school. This mailing could include a brochure, a letter from the head of the school, and any other relevant information.

Invitations to School Events

Invite prospective students and their families to school events such as sports events, arts performances, and science fairs. Attending events allows them to see the school culture firsthand.

Remember, the goal of following up is to provide information and build a relationship with each prospective student and their families. With a mix of the above strategies, you can create an effective follow-up process that helps to convert inquiries into admissions.

This video offers strategies for following up on leads.

Dealing with the Competition

Differentiating your school from others is critical to your marketing and admissions strategy. Here are some ways you could distinguish your school from others.

Unique Curriculum

Do you offer any unique courses or programs? For instance, is there a strong emphasis on STEM, the Arts, or languages? Maybe you offer an International Baccalaureate program or have specialized vocational training. Highlight these distinctive aspects.


That could be a selling point if your school uses a teaching method different from the norm, such as Montessori, Reggio Emilia, or the flipped classroom model.

Faculty Excellence

If your teachers have advanced degrees, special certifications, or unique backgrounds, emphasize this. Parents and students are often attracted to schools with highly qualified and experienced staff.

Student Successes

Highlight the successes of your current and past students. This could include university acceptance rates, scholarship awards, sporting achievements, artistic accomplishments, or entrepreneurial ventures.

Community Involvement

If your school is mainly involved in community service and social initiatives, highlight this. Many families value an education that encourages social responsibility and community involvement.

Facilities and Resources

If you have standout facilities, like a state-of-the-art science lab, music recording studio, large sports complex, or even extensive online resources, promote these.

Extracurricular Activities

Highlight any unique or varied extracurricular activities that your school offers. This could include clubs, sports, arts, and other opportunities for students to explore and develop their interests and talents.

School Culture

What is your school's philosophy and culture like? Is it collaborative and inclusive? Do you promote diversity and global awareness? Are you a nurturing environment that encourages personal growth and character development? Define your culture and share it.

Parent and Student Testimonials

Use testimonials from current and former students and parents. They often provide authentic and relatable experiences to help prospective families see what makes your school unique.

Campus Beauty

Sometimes, a beautiful, well-maintained campus can differentiate a school. Showcase your campus in your marketing materials.

Technological Integration

If your school has a unique approach to incorporating technology into education, that can be a differentiating factor, especially for tech-savvy parents and students.

Every school has its unique points. The key lies in identifying and effectively communicating these points to your prospective families.

Rolling admissions or fixed admissions

Choosing between rolling admissions and a fixed admissions deadline depends mainly on your school's goals, capacity, and resources. Let's break down the advantages and disadvantages of each approach so you can make an informed decision.

Rolling Admissions

In a rolling admissions process, applications are accepted and evaluated continually until all available spots are filled.


Flexibility for Applicants

Applicants have more flexibility regarding when to submit their applications, which may attract a wider variety of students and increase the overall number of applications.

Extended Admission Period

Your school can continue accepting students throughout the year, even after traditional deadlines have passed.

Quick Decisions

Because applications are reviewed as they arrive, decisions are often made quickly, reducing the waiting time for families.


Administrative Burden: A rolling admissions policy may place more stress on your admissions staff as they need to review applications and make decisions constantly.

Quality of Late Applicants: There is a perception that the most organized and committed students apply early, so you might not get the best quality applicants later in the process.

Uncertainty: There's less predictability regarding class composition and enrollment numbers, making planning for the academic year challenging.

Fixed Admissions Deadline

With a fixed admissions deadline, all applications must be submitted by a specified date and reviewed together.


Structured Timeline

Admissions staff have a clear timeframe for reviewing applications and making decisions. It also allows for simultaneous comparison of all applicants.


You will clearly understand the applicant pool size and composition after the deadline, allowing for more accurate planning.

Equal Consideration

All students are evaluated simultaneously, ensuring every applicant receives the same consideration.


Less Flexible for Applicants

Some families might miss the application deadline and thus be excluded from consideration.

Delayed Decisions

Because all applications are reviewed together after the deadline, there could be a longer time for decisions, creating stress for applicants and families.

Risk of Losing Students

If your admissions decisions are later than other schools, you risk losing students who receive earlier offers.

In choosing between these two, it's important to consider your school's needs and capacities. If you have the staff to handle ongoing admissions and value flexibility for applicants, rolling admissions could work well. However, a fixed admissions deadline might be better if you prefer a more predictable and structured process. It's not uncommon for schools to use a combination of both, offering an early decision or early action deadline followed by a period of rolling admissions. This hybrid approach might provide the benefits of both systems.

This video discusses following admissions vs. fixed deadline admissions.

Know your target market.

Given the description of your school, it appears your target market includes families and students who meet specific income, academic, and value-based criteria. Here's a breakdown:

Economic Criteria

Families with a total income of less than $100,000 would qualify for the tuition-free education offered by your school.

Families who, despite exceeding the income threshold, value the high-quality education you offer and are willing to pay tuition.

Academic Criteria

Students who are academically inclined and driven, given your focus on Advanced Placement (AP) college prep curriculum.

Students who are looking for challenging courses and have a desire to earn college credits while in high school.

Students who plan on applying to competitive colleges and universities see the value in AP classes for their college applications.

Value-based Criteria

Families who value education highly and are motivated to give their children the best possible academic opportunities.

Families looking for a private school experience — smaller class sizes, more personalized attention, etc.

Families who appreciate the structure and rigor of a college preparatory curriculum.

Geographic Criteria

Students and families living within a feasible commuting distance of your school. This range would be dependent on the transportation options available.

Depending on your school's reputation and resources, if you offer boarding options, your target market could extend to a broader geographical region, state-wide, or even nationally and internationally.

Age Group

Students entering grades 9-12. It's crucial to remember that your marketing efforts should also target families of students in lower grades (6-8), as they are likely to be researching high school options well in advance.

Regarding demographic segments, your target audience is mainly the parents of prospective students, particularly those who are actively involved in their child's education and have decision-making power. Tailoring your marketing and communication strategy to appeal to these parents' concerns and aspirations for their child's education is essential.

Simultaneously, the students are a critical market to target, as they likely have significant influence over where they would like to attend high school. They'll be interested in aspects like your school's culture, extracurricular opportunities, and the experiences of current students. Engaging content, school tours, and open houses can help you appeal to this demographic.

Remember, effective marketing is about demonstrating how your school meets the needs and wants of this target market better than other alternatives. Show the benefits and opportunities your school offers and how your school's values align with those of your prospective families.

#PrivateSchoolAdmissions #InquiryFollowUp #SchoolCompetition #AdmissionsDeadlines #EducationInsights

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