Spring is an exciting time both for private schools and for their new incoming students. Now, I know you're thinking, "Why spring? I thought schools opened in the fall? In September." Well, of course, you're right. Schools do welcome their new students at the beginning of the fall semester. But they also make a big fuss about their new students in the spring. After all, why talk about success once when you can talk about it all year long. It's just good marketing. Private schools are constantly looking to fill their empty seats. While certain times of the year are busier than others in the admissions department, the director of admissions has to focus on her school's finding new students throughout the year. Welcoming new students is an essential part of her job.
This video shares some tips on creating social media content.
Why is welcoming students so important?
Welcoming new students is important because it makes new students and their families feel that they are part of the school community from Day 1. Most new students will be concerned about basics like making friends and fitting in. Most parents want assurance that their children have everything they need to be happy and successful in their new school. The welcoming process sets the tone. It states unequivocally that "We are so happy you are here. We are so happy that you are part of our school community."
What is involved with welcoming students?
A few years ago, welcoming new students usually meant holding an orientation day. Of course, an orientation day is essential. But, in line with the marketing approach I mentioned earlier, many schools now publicize the welcome they give their new students by posting on their social media pages. The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words applies. I follow dozens of private day and boarding schools on social media. Small schools, large schools, girls' schools, boys' schools, elementary schools, high schools, and military schools are all kinds of schools. Posts about welcoming new students leave a positive impression of the school. They also show that the school is making a sincere effort to onboard its new students and their families as quickly as possible. After all, as I have said so many times, your child's happiness is paramount.
Most schools will offer a series of welcoming events at the beginning of the fall semester. They want to get everybody settled so that new and old students can focus on their academic work. However, schools know that their rules and ways of doing things can confuse new students. As a result, students will attend orientation sessions to explain the dress code, the discipline code, the protocols for handling medications, etc.
The school's website will contain most of the information students, and parents need to get up to speed quickly. Have a look at The Hill School's handbook to see an example of the school communicates a wide variety of information pertinent to school life. Most schools will have similar information on their websites.
So, you can see why welcoming new students is so important. A new student who feels at home in her new school will be a happy student. You and I know when our kids are happy. Moreover, we will tell everyone we know that that new private school our child is attending is terrific. It's so well-organized and welcoming.
This video discusses how non-profits can use social media to market their organizations.
Advice for small schools
You understand the importance of welcoming new students and making them feel at home. You already do that and do it very well. But you don't have money in your budget to spend on hiring somebody to take photos and post them on your social media pages. And you don't have time to do it yourself. Your small staff is stretched as it is. Not to worry.
Let your parents know that you need a volunteer to take photos of specific events and post them on the school's social media. Then decide which events you want to be photographed each week. Give the kind parent who offers to help the dates and times of each week's events so that he can fit them into his schedule. Approve all photos and the accompanying captions and stories before your volunteer publishes them. Start with publishing once a week. If a photo doesn't present your school in the best possible light, don't publish it. Think of anything that you post online as the entrance to your school. Whatever you publish has to create a positive impression.
Prospective parents will visit and revisit your Facebook page and your website. Sending a child to private school is a significant investment of time and money. Your welcoming posts will reaffirm the decision to entrust their children to your care.
This video offers some more advice on using social media to promote schools.
Need more help?
This search string "promoting your school on social media" produces plenty of resources. For example, Ellie Diamond offers practical advice in her article How to Promote a School on Social Media: Tips and Tools for Success. Keep it bookmarked and refer to it until Ellie's strategies become second nature. I've written a couple of articles with private schools in mind. Again, my articles are full of tips and suggestions you can implement effectively and inexpensively. 5 Ways To Use Social Media To Market Your School and Marketing Your School: How Visible Is Your School? offers some ideas to get you started with social media. Once you understand that your school's social media can be an inviting digital handshake for existing parents, students, and prospective families, you're off and running.
Finally, spend a few minutes checking out your competition's social media pages and website. How does your school compare? Is your digital welcome mat out and obvious to everybody? Make sure it is.
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