Admission: Plan Now to Increase your Yield on Acceptances March decisions are right around the corner, and Admission Directors can take a few steps right now to ensure the highest possible enrollment yield from acceptances.
- Involve your school’s program directors. Everyone has a stake in the yield success for acceptances. Whether it’s the Academic Dean or the Music Director, the Debate Coach or the Soccer Coach—all program directors can help the yield cause at large and impact their programs. Plan an early February meeting of all program directors—before end of term madness takes hold and March break arrives-- to discuss strategies for getting them in touch with accepted students (and/or parents) who have expressed a strong interest in specific programs.
- Plan or refine your accepted student special events now. Whether it is a full-day visitation program for accepted students or an evening reception for the kids and their parents, you don’t want to wait until mid-February to create or refine these plans. Successful schools enlist an all-star cast of teachers and administrators, as well as current students and parents, to assist in these critically important events. They need to plan. So do applicants and their parents who need to save a date should they be accepted. Send out an e-blast to your applicants about special events and follow up visit programs for accepted students, and get the info on your website well before admission notifications are sent.
- Use your admission software to anticipate and (later) track likelihood of yield for an acceptance. Sure, in many cases you just won’t have a strong sense of whether a candidate will enroll after an acceptance, but your best guess on likelihood for yield is better than no guess as you enter admission committee meetings. And you will find that tracking the real data after acceptances and comparing it to your intuition will help inform your committee discussions and yield efforts in the future.
- Consider adding to your acceptance letters alerts for school events or news, and include a link for these to your website. You may have your winter musical right at acceptance time, an end of season playoff game, an art exhibition, or a special speaker at your school. Perhaps you are at the point where you can announce an exciting program that will launch in the coming year. These are all terrific opportunities to get soon-to-be accepted candidates and families back to campus or at least to keep them thinking about you without any “sales” pressure.
Creating or refining a yield plan for your acceptances at least six weeks before decisions are mailed will ease stress, involve the entire school team, and keep applicant families informed and excited until they sign that contract and send in the deposit!
Fred McGaughan is a 30-year independent school admission and marketing professional. He is Managing Director for Gowan Group, an educational consulting firm that specializes in Strategic Enrollment Management.