On Private Schools Amidst Economic Crisis

IT HAS BEEN OBSERVED that enrolment in many private schools has tremendously gone down due to increasing cost of private education. Many students have been transferring to public schools and this phenomenon has caused worries to school owners. How can private school stay afloat in this kind of environment without sacrificing quality?

The following are suggested marketing strategies that private schools could adopt to somehow ensure the enrollment growth and sustainability.

Internal School Marketing
The first step in effective marketing is "internal marketing." There's a need to ensure that the school's mission-vision and goals are consistent with the message communicated and impression depicted by the staff, board, alumni, faculty, and students. Admissions and retention analysis (known as the marketing funnel), and surveys of current and prospective students, parents, and alumni are critical tools for private-independent schools and essential for determining the marketing plan and strategies.

Establishing and promoting unique "centers of excellence" are also vital to marketing schools, which draw many families to the school. Programs that ensure that the current students and their families will enroll in that certain private school in the following academic year (e.g. giving discounts to siblings) also helps in sustaining enrollment growth.

External School Marketing
Direct mail has a far higher rate of success and return for schools than it does for other business enterprises. Radio advertising and billboards are effective "image" tools for schools, while the time proven open houses, coffee sessions with the Director of Admissions and key staff, and public outreach programs, as well as word of mouth, continue to serve schools well. (They must, however, be appropriately designed and staffed to gain maximum impact, and done at the right time of year. It's never too early to start reaching out to current and future parents and students.)

Nevertheless, no matter how great one’s advertisements may be, if its tuition fees skyrocket that families cannot really afford them, then no growth in enrolment can be expected. Private schools therefore may also consider empathizing with the worsening economic condition of their customers. By offering quality education and at the same time making ‘empathy’ as the school’s motto, who knows, the school may attract more families who look for institution that understands their plight.

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