Better Strategy = Increased Enrollment

Many of the parochial schools are unable to identify their strategy. With a well-defined strategy, they would experience an increase in enrollment.

The purpose of a strategic plan is to define how the strategy will be carried out. Without a defined strategy it is easy for the ‘strategic plan’ to look like this year’s operational plan that has been extended a year or two.

Here is a simple definition of what a strategy is:

The strategy of a parochial school describes how the school will take advantage of emerging opportunities.

The last five words of the definition are the key: ‘take advantage of emerging opportunities’. Strategies are forward looking. Those key words keep the strategy dynamic and focus the school on opportunities rather than competition, money, or enrollment. Money, increasing enrollment, and maintaining a competitive advantage are all by-products of the taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

Since a Christian school exists to serve its students and its mission, the strategy needs to focus on the needs of the students that fit within the mission. The mission defines the purpose of the school.

Here is a simple example:

Mission – Provide children with a Christian foundation for living

Strategy – Help students develop the skills necessary to live effectively in our society

Imagine how that strategy would have guided the school over the past 25 years. It would have been one of the first schools to have computers in the classroom and its students would have graduated with a valuable set of new skills. If 15 years ago Korean families started moving into the neighborhood, the school might have become bilingual. In the past 5 years, it might have started teaching its students the most effective ways to use social networks. Today, it might be one of the few schools providing its students with tablets or e-readers as well as apps to help with study and research. The strategy would have also shaped how and who the school recruited as donors, volunteers, board members, advocates, and referral sources.

Next Step:

Develop a strategy that marries your mission statement with the needs of your students and families

Let the strategy shape your program offerings beyond the academic activities of your school

Use the strategy to guide your recruiting of board members, donors, volunteers, referral sources, and advocates

Using the strategy to guide your school will help you take advantage of new opportunities. The combination of your mission and strategy will create a valuable uniqueness. Your school’s sustainability will increase because it will always be relevant.

Keeping your school relevant and unique makes it one of the first choices for families. The first choice schools are the schools with growing or full enrollment and high student retention.


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