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Why Wait to Increase Enrollment?

The economic recovery we all want still seems to be on the distant horizon. What can parochial schools do until the recovery arrives?

Don’t wait!

There is only one reason why you should act now rather than wait:

You have empty chairs in your classrooms and the school exists to educate as many children as possible.

Sure, there is risk associated with taking action in a weak economy, but consider:

The waiting will increase the risk your school will close. The only way to fill the empty seats is to do something different.

Founding your Christian school was a risk. If your founders could find the support needed to start something, you can find support to increase enrollment.

Increasing enrollment is the best way to keep your school open. If the economy slips, you will probably have more students leave. How many more can you lose before you have to close?

What you do to increase enrollment may be ineffective. So what? No students will be lost because of it. At worst, enrollment remains unchanged.

There are schools with waiting lists. The formula for success exists. The only way to find the formula that works for your school is to change what you are doing. The two ways to discover what will work for your school are to experiment (a fresh idea or copy someone else) or engage a consultant to guide you.

What area should you think about changing?

It is doubtful your marketing program should be on the list. Another small tweak is unlikely to provide a significant increase in enrollment.

Your tuition is competitive with other schools in the area. Cutting tuition is more likely to hurt the financial strength of your school than increase enrollment. The same is true of offering more scholarships.

Your students’ academic performance is as good or better than the other schools in the area. Improving achievement test scores a few points is something every school should do but it is unlikely to increase enrollment.

Look at your programming. What is the unmet or under-met need of the youth in your community? The answer to that question will increase enrollment and bring your school to capacity as well as increase student retention.

Next Step:

Determine which of the unmet or under-met needs of the youth fits best with your mission

Create a plan to meet the need or engage a consultant to help you create a plan

Recruit donors to help you reach out to the underserved youth

It is impossible to increase sustainability by waiting. Sustainability is an ever-changing goal that becomes more demanding with each passing second. You must be proactive to keep your current level of sustainability and aggressive if you want to improve the sustainability of your school.

What are the needs of the youth in your area that fit with your mission and will create a meaningful change in the lives of the youth?

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