Whether you are looking to fill spare capacity, refining your workflows to engage better with parents, diving deep into historic data to inform future decisions or simply trying to manage the influx of new enquiries, the admissions process is a vital one for all independent schools. The opportunities provided by your school management system for engaging with parents earlier and more effectively, enabling parents to be better informed about what your school can offer and collecting data for meaningful analysis.
The admissions process can be significantly improved by taking a few simple steps which we have detailed below. (Note: All screenshots come from our school management system SchoolBase, your system may vary).
1. Create an engaging enquiry form
The first point of contact varies from school to school but at some stage, you will need to collect their information. A well-designed enquiry form should reflect not just the look and feel of the school and feed data directly into your management system, but should also be an opportunity to learn more about their child – no parent dislikes talking about their children!
2. Create a portal for prospective parents
Most schools have a portal for parents of current pupils and there are no reasons why this portal cannot be extended to parents of prospective pupils.
From the initial contact, they can be given a login to the portal which enables them to track the documents and messages that you have sent them, view and manage their own data and that of their children, but also view information about the school.
This is the ideal place to make additional material available to them, from videos and photo galleries about the school to the informational documents that would normally be emailed to them. The invitation to the portal should feel like a welcome to the school, and the use of the portal will grow as their child moves through the admissions process and finally joins the school.
Parent Portal example
3. Make payments easier
Most schools require parents to pay a registration fee and/or a deposit fee. The parent portal should enable parents to quickly make these payments at the appropriate stage, and for the receipt of these payments to move their child to the next stage in the admissions process.
Hassle-free payment included in the Parent Portal
4. Customise your admission process
Once the information about the new pupil is safely in the system, the admissions process that follows should be tailored to your school.
From the automatic recording of milestones and tracking of parents who have, and more importantly have not reached those milestones, through to easy yet fully branded and personalised communications and bulk updating of data, every stage should be set directly by you. From the vocabulary used to the stages in the process, every element should be customised to reflect the school.
5. Analyse your data
Context is everything. Knowing how many enquiries you have for this year is meaningless unless you can compare it to the same point last year.
You should have quick access to these key metrics at your fingertips – from the number of prospects at each stage, through the inboard comparison to the previous year, to the best ways of engaging with prospective parents and promoting your school, this analysis should be instantly available to the admissions team and the management team.
Your MIS should allow you to analyse the data you collect during your admissions period
6. Bring in siblings
Many schools require parents of current pupils to go through the same enquiry form process when entering siblings. This is not only wasteful but also risks duplication of data and frustrating the parent. The parent portal should include the ability for parents to quickly add details of siblings to be entered into the admissions process without having to re-enter their own details. The sibling is then connected automatically to the parent and the current child while still being part of the same admissions process.
We live in an online society and parents will expect to be able to manage the school admissions process online just as they manage the rest of their lives. The admissions process should be seen as much more than a data collection exercise and should complement the existing personal contact that exists between the schools and the parents today.
If you have questions about how you can improve your admission process, feel free to contact our team of experts here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with our news.