Learn about Something Better

This is a follow-on article for Listen to Students, Hear New Ideas.

After a student has graduated, you can learn from the student’s experience. What you learn will provide your school with a competitive advantage, help your school become a high-performing school, attract more students and donors, raise your school’s sustainability, and increase the effectiveness of your mission.

Imagine a short while ago a student graduated. As a result, in a few months or years your alumnus will begin to experience the outcomes promised. Now would be a good time to interview the alumnus and family and ask questions like:

What challenges (expected and unexpected) did you face while at our school?

Now that you have graduated what could we have done to enhance your success since graduation?

What are the challenges (expected and unexpected) you currently face?

Let us assume that all of the responses are mission centric. The first two questions will tell you how to enhance your program, extend the value of your mission, increase your students’ potential to successfully complete your program, and raise the probability that your students will enjoy the outcomes predicted by your mission’s promises. The third question will tell you how to add breadth and depth to your programing, which will also extend the value of your programing and increase the probability that students will enjoy the outcomes.

The answers to the preceding three questions will provide you with information your competitors are lacking. You will have practical and actionable ideas to help your students and to help you create one or more competitive advantages. You can use your alumni’s words to help your donors visualize how your enhancements, and their next gift to fund those enhancements, will change lives and increase your students’ success. Your alumni will enable you to build your school’s future and increase its sustainability.

Next Step:

Use the three questions above with other questions based upon your mission and competitors’ programing to uncover opportunities

Share what your alumni say with your donors

Make the enhancements donors are most willing to fund

Report the results of your enhancements and your alumni’s satisfaction to your donors

Parochial school funds are limited. Therefore, you will need to limit your enhancements to the ones that will change the most lives and attract the most donor support. Increasing the value of your enhancements will make funding the next set of enhancements easier and allow you to undertake larger and more challenging enhancements.

When your donors, alumni, and staff collaborate, your students will achieve greater success.

Take It Further:

Talk to your students’ families for additional ideas

Invite a recent alumnus or parent to a board meeting to answer the three questions in front of your board (hearing it directly from an alumnus or parent will have a deeper impact on your board than reading your report)

Follow up regularly with alumni who have the best insights and those who are struggling the most


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