The Waiting Game: Engaging Students and Parents through the School Enrolment Process
20 Jan

The Waiting Game: Engaging Students and Parents through the School Enrolment Process

Being able to convert prospective students on a waiting list to actual enrolments is a critical issue facing Private Schools. School waiting lists are a source of frustration and angst for parents who may apply to as many as four Schools. They then anxiously wait to have their child’s enrolment confirmed.

It is important that Schools are able to keep the parent and prospective student engaged in the school community while on the waiting list. This will help to:

  • Avoid anxiety and ensure the student and parent are the right fit for the School
  • Keep your School front of mind over other Schools the parent has applied to

This can be a long process where in some cases prospective parents and students may be on a waiting list for 10+ years before they convert to enrolment.


The Benefits of Parent and Student Engagement
Keeping engaged with students and parents while they are on the waiting list could increase the likelihood that a potential student will convert to an enrolment at your school.

A key reason a parent choses Private School is because of the superior education experience both inside and outside the classroom that they believe their child will receive. It is important to find ways to demonstrate this experience to parents and students during the time they are on the waiting list. This will make them feel like they are part of the school community already and help get them and their child excited about starting at your School.

Taking a personalised approach to communication with parents and potential students during this time frame is one way to ensure engagement. This could be as simple as asking a few extra probing questions up-front to understand the specific interests of the family and then tailoring your communications based on what they value.

For example, for a family who has strong sporting interests the best way to engage with them during this time may be to keep them updated on sporting achievements and to invite them along to sporting events to showcase the schools credentials in this area.


The Consequences of Not Engaging Parents and Students
If parents and students are not engaged by your School during this waiting period it could lead to:

  • The enrolment not being followed through with and the student being lost to another School
  • A negative experience when the students starts the school if the appropriate expectations have not been created
  • A student or family enrolling that is not the right fit for the school, leading to the student changing schools

Application and enrolment is only one stage of the process. Engagement should be on a schools mind at every stage of the student lifecycle, from application through to when the student joins the alumni community and considers sending their own children to the school.

Figure: Student Lifecycle Diagram

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