I am in the process of preparing a Marketing Plan to address low enrollment at the school where I teach. We are a small independent school with a wonderful academic program and a great staff. Students are held accountable for their academic work as well as their behavior. All teachers, as well as, administration, have a close relationship with parents/guardians. We have a great time during the year, parties, picnics, prom, the whole works. Our students are mainstream, not, as the community believes, "losers."
Previously, some thirty years ago, my school started as a Jesuit school for troubled boys. We can't seem to shake this image, even though we have moved to a new location and are co-ed for many, many years.
Perception in the community is that my school is the last stop for students who cannot make it in religious high schools, Principals at the religious H.S. badmouth our school, or public high schools. We do get many students who need extra supervision in their academics. But they are not Special Ed.
I am trying to come up with ideas to increase enrollment especially 9th grade. We go 9-12.
Any suggestions on this would be greatly appreciated!
You have probably already done this by now, but it seems that the best people to talk to are the counselors and administrators in the junior high schools or middle schools that feed into your school.
Sponsoring a spring event at a middle school could go a long way to raising your visibility at that school as well. If you send some students (student council, athletes, group members, etc.) to the sponsored event, you'll be advertising with your biggest assets directly to the market you are targeting.
The best way to get good publicity for your school is to make your students and teachers more visible. I also work at a small independent school that has been around for about 50 years, so it has a reputation. Yet our students are constantly on the news and in community events. We do community service projects, compete in just about every sport and Speech and Debate and participate in contests of all kinds in our area. We are also well-known to other local schools that feed into us and into which we feed (we are K-8). If you are a high school, make your reputation with local elementary schools. Show that your school has changed.
I know that many Jesuit schools have found success through athletics. By building a successful basketbal or football program, the school is able to get the attention of the community and also instill pride in the students. This will definitely increase enrollment.
Have you considered an Academy approach? I have taught at many schools which use this approach to interest kids and keep them motivated to stay in school as well as challenge those who may need more challenging work. In the past, some of the academies have included Vo-Tech, Communications (TV, Broadcast, Newspaper, Journalism), Graphic Arts, Culinary Arts, Health Occupations, AP, and Business.
It is difficult to get this started with a small school such as yours, but you could poll the kids to see which one would have the greatest interest and start with just one. You would become a magnet school with an expertise in an area no other school offers. Enrollment would increase, and another academy could be added as numbers rose.
Just a thought...
I empathize with you. I'm at a public school, but it's the smallest high school in the county, and it's in a rural, low-income community. The school is so small (this year's graduating class has 72) that our advanced students have to commute to one of the other high schools to take AP or other advanced courses; we just don't have enough students to make a class.
Because we don't offer higher-level courses, the perception is that we're a school for not so bright kids. Our own students say things like, "We're not supposed to be able to read" or "It's just Watertown."
But when the Governor's Academy of Science and Math chose students from this district to enroll next fall, guess which high school they attend. Yep, good old Watertown. They will be high school juniors taking college courses for the next two years. When they graduate high school in 2010, they will already be college sophomores.
We are using them to help change the perception of our school. Can you find something positive that you can highlight? There is such an emphasis on improving basic skills, like reading. Could you find something in that to promote?