Effective Practices : Enrollment
Enrollment Section 8
1. What reports are produced on a regular basis to track enrollment and admissions related activity at your school? List the titles of each report, its distribution and frequency of publication, and describe the key action items the report is intended to inform. Attach a sample of each report.
2. Who is responsible for producing each of the above reports?
3. What management reports or tracking information does your school publish with respect to the effectiveness of various outreach methods? How do you know your publicity and advertising is effective?
4. Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your report design, frequency and distribution in the areas of marketing effectiveness and enrollment.
5. What is particularly effective in your management reporting for this area?
6. If you could change some aspect of your work in creating and reacting to management information for enrollment and associated marketing efforts, what would you change and why?
What reports are produced on a regular basis to track enrollment and admissions related activity at your school? List the titles of each report, its distribution and frequency of publication, and describe the key action items the report is intended to inform. Attach a sample of each report.
The Enrollment Director and/or Registrar produce several enrollment oriented reports. The most basic Enrollment Report (See: Enrollment Report) is usually published on a biweekly basis and shows enrollment levels by class, new enrollments, withdrawals, re-enrollment and wait list status. This report is generally published without commentary, and is distributed to the administrative staff, the Board if Trustees, the College and Faculty chairs, and to the department chairs (Lower School, Kindergarten, and High School chairs).
This report is often supplemented on a monthly basis by a Monthly Activity Report. This report details the number and type of inquiries by class and the source of those inquiries. It also comments on admissions application activity, current enrollment figures by class, and the various outreach activities and advertising done during the month. The report varies in length from two pages during slower enrollment periods to four pages or more when enrollment and re-enrollment activity is at its peak.
An Annual Enrollment Report and Year-End Review is published once a year. One school noted that this report is published in September (rather than the fiscal year end of July 31) due to the high impact that summer enrollment activity can have on enrollment levels when school begins in the fall. This analysis is similar in many ways to the Monthly Activity Report, but is much fuller. It includes a gender and geographical breakdown of the student body, the sibling enrollment number, and an analysis of various promotion techniques. It gives inquiries by grade, and then quantifies the enrollment funnel, looking at each step in the enrollment process including the percent interviewed, percent accepted, and percent enrolled. It also attempts to quantify the reasons that accepted students did not enroll. It also analyzes how many of the new students come from public schools, home schooling, from other Waldorf schools, and from other private schools. The report includes a written commentary on developing trends and prominent issues regarding the school’s enrollment, as well as a calendar of outreach activities for the coming year.
The above written analysis is supplemented by an Annual Statistical Analysis (See: Historical Enrollment Stats and Enrollment Inquiry Report). It shows selected statistical measures and compares them over time. One school reported they have been keeping these statistics for over 8 years, allowing some meaningful comparisons to be made. Numbers tracked include the percent of students not returning, the number of new students, total enrollment for the year, the number of midyear enrollments and withdrawals, and the ending enrollment. It also takes a look at some of the key transition areas in the school such as kindergarten to 1st and 8th to 9th grade, showing the number of students that come from within the school versus the number that come from outside. There is also information about the number of inquiries for the year, how those that inquired heard about the school, and the number of enrolment packages mailed. It tracks by month the number of interviews with the Enrollment Director, the number of applications, interviews, acceptances and enrolments. The number of families attending outreach events is also tracked y month.
Who is responsible for producing each of the above reports?
In larger schools the Enrollment Report is often published by the Registrar. All the other reports, especially those which include some analysis or commentary, are published by the Enrollment Director.
What management reports or tracking information does your school publish with respect to the effectiveness of various outreach methods? How do you know your publicity and advertising is effective?
It is often difficult to state definitely how a particular family heard of the school. Advertisers often say that someone must hear a name seven times before it is retained in consciousness, meaning that most people who inquire about the school have heard its name from several sources. Nonetheless, schools are well advised to ask inquiring parents how they heard of the school, and to track those responses. This makes it possible for schools to see in a reasonably accurate way what the most significant source of information was for the respondent. These responses are tallied and included in monthly and annual analyses of enrollment activity.
Schools understand that it is important to keep a high profile in the public consciousness through a variety of venues. Some schools mentioned that as more and more people are doing their searching for information on-line their investment in a high quality web site has increased while the amount of money spent on yellow page advertising has dropped. Advertising is also gaining in importance. Schools mentioned the importance of keeping ads jargon free, and the effectiveness in their use to draw people onto the campus for events like a pumpkin patch or holiday fair and to promote good speakers on various issues related to child development and education.
Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your report design, frequency and distribution in the areas of marketing effectiveness and enrollment.
A full class is a healthy class. Tracking enrollment and retention allows the school to identify difficulties and support teachers in need, and to seize opportunities and then celebrate those classes that are vibrant and fully enrolled.
Friends are a huge source of new enrollment, so keeping your current families happy is a critical part of the school’s enrollment success. Numerical tracking can be an independent validation of class and community health and provides additional insight when difficulties are rumored or suspected in the school or the classroom. A happy parent body is your best marketing tool.
Management reporting of enrollment/re-enrollment and inquiry sources is critically important. Schools should start by identifying a few key indicators and then track them religiously, adding more indicators as time and experience allow.
Good tracking and reporting allows accurate budgeting to take place.
Good reporting also helps a school know where to spend its advertising and event dollars.
Accurate reporting builds confidence in the administration by the Board. This is good internal marketing.
The reports are clear indications of the activity in the Enrollment office. They underscore the need for the Enrollment position, and provide accountability for those doing enrollment work. The reports give the Board and College a clear picture of the work of the admissions office, and help build understanding for the sometimes difficult issues confronted there.
Good reporting allows emerging trends or issues to be identified early on. The consciousness about appropriate action can then be raised and action taken.
Reports need to be reader friendly. Always report data in the same order so people can easily find the information they need.
Know the key indicators that drive your business, and keep good records that allow you to know what is happening in those areas.
Management reporting takes time. It is tempting to let these reports slide during the busiest times of the enrollment cycle, but they are critically important. Don’t miss a reporting cycle.
The work over the summer to prepare the annual enrollment report is very helpful in planning how to react to various long and short term issues, and informs the work for the coming year.
Enrollment is not just recruitment; it is also retention. Tracking data that allows problems in the retention area to be identified is a key part of this work. A healthy school is not created by filling classes with all new students every year.
Sharing enrollment report data helps everyone feel responsible for the health of the school.
What is particularly effective in your management reporting for this area?
The enrollment report is comprehensive and gives all the information in one place. It is easy to generate on a regular basis, so the data is timely.
It is very helpful for the Board to receive the enrollment report. This adds a level of confidence to their planning, and gives a sense that the administration is on top of things at the school and allows budget and other planning to go forward with more certainty.
Good reporting helps schools know where to spend its advertising and event dollars.
From time to time key information such as the geographic distribution of currently enrolled students and the number of siblings is reported in the school bulletin. This helps keep the community informed and reminds people they can turn to the Enrollment Director for the pertinent information they need to run their committees and do other work on behalf of the school.
Broad distribution of the various enrollment reports is the key to widely shared responsibility for enrollment levels.
Having on online database is great, allowing the school to easily query the database for various pieces of information.
If you could change some aspect of your work in creating and reacting to management information for enrollment and associated marketing efforts, what would you change and why?
Tracking racial diversity is not done now. It needs to be tracked accurately by soliciting this information on a voluntary basis from our currently enrolled families and from all those who apply to the school.
Getting to the heart of why families leave the school is difficult. There is always a stated reason, but sometimes the “real” reason for the withdrawal is not given. Continued work on improving our information gathering in this area would be a plus.
We are continually looking at ways to consolidate some of the categories that are tracked so that the reporting is effective yet manageable..