If you’re like me, when you grew up, your parents didn’t have a lot of choice when it came to sending you off to school. Their options were likely something like this:
- Public School
- Private School
Alllllrighty then. So school that isn’t really free, but as close to it as we’re going to get … OR school that’s going to take a hefty chunk out of their bank account. The choice, for most, was a no-brainer.
Today – we’re faced with choices though. In my opinion – choice is good. It causes good brands to strive to be better. Same goes for schools. In the age of school option – the choices can be dizzying. Where do I send my child?
- Private Religious School
- Private Secular School
- Public School
- Charter School
- Home School
- Free Online Public Schools
I’m sure those are just the beginning of a long list of options available to parents today. It’s clear, then, that just sitting there – expecting parents to come banging on your door – is not going to yield the results you would hope for.
In the state of Indiana, schools receive approximately $6000/traditional student and approximately $10000/special needs student. Let’s say 1 school in 1 district loses 1 student to each of these with 5 students being traditional and 1 being special needs. That’s $40k lost. Just. Like. That. We all know that schools aren’t just losing 1 student to each of these alternative schools though. The numbers are far more staggering than that. But even at just 1 – $40k equals one teacher cut. That means larger classroom sizes, less individualized attention and then MORE students moving to alternative schools. Then you lose the next 6 students and now you’re $80k in the hole. It’s the proverbial rabbit hole – there’s no end to it… unless you figure out how to put a stop to it yourself.
What can you do to get your enrollment numbers where they need to be AND KEEP THEM THERE? It’s simple – but not easy… as most things in life are. First, you are now a business. Yes – you’re in the business of educating children, but it’s still a business. What is the #1 goal of most successful businesses? That’s right. Customer Service. Who are your customers? Your knee jerk reaction is probably to say “parents” – no?? Well, I’d challenge that answer and say your actual clients are your students. Momma Bear likely comes to you with her claws out when baby bear comes to her with a story about how he/she has been mistreated before you see her; however, Momma Bear is going to be the one spreading the good (or bad) word about you. All. Over. Facebook. All. Over. Twitter. Oh yes – it’s the age of Social Media.
Oh… Wait… You’re not ON Social Media? Oh yes you are. You might not know it yet – but you have between 700-5000 parents talking about you on (at bare minimum) a monthly basis. You can use that to your advantage – or it can destroy you. This should absolutely not scare you off. Why wouldn’t you give it your best effort? You could be using software such as [Pivot] to measure improvement in your student/teacher performance – then report on it. You can hi-light students of the month – let parents know you really do care about more than just test scores. You can address problems before they escalate and get out of hand. Parents appreciate a heads up on what’s going on with their kids – God knows teenagers aren’t the most forthcoming creatures ever.
It all boils down to this: Social Media is about relationship building. If parents trust you with their child, with their well-being and with their future – they’re sold. If you’re ambivalent, seem wishy-washy or not fully committed… well, the Charter School down the road seemed to care. Social Media is your chance to show the reason you became an educator to begin with. It’s not about the money, the test scores or the board members. It’s about young minds and your ability to mold them to be the leaders of tomorrow. If you truly believe your school has the ability to do all of those things – it’s time to jump on the Social Media bandwagon. Be active. Engage your audience. Respond to concerns – or be proactive and report them first yourself. Then and only then are you going to have the opportunity to not only gain, but keep the students you have.