Peer Groups

    Re: Marketing/Recruiting Ideas for Private school
    Dale D

    Sally Anne,

    I posted the following a few weeks ago. I don't know if you
    saw it, but I'm repeating it because at year's end (last
    week), we ended up with about 20 more students than we started
    out with last August. Something is working.

    "I, too, am on a marketing committee. Just some of the things
    we've done in the past year: In conjunction with the
    Foundation committee, a parish "Birthday Club" for all parish
    children 12 & under was started. Birthday cards are presented
    to the children from the parish & school once a month during
    Mass (during their birthday month), and their names are
    published in the church bulletin (again from the church and
    the school).

    "A strategic corner was located in the neighborhood where
    there is both high car and foot traffic. We are in the process
    of putting up a banner stating we have a full-day kindergarten
    and day care after school. (Next year, we will have before
    school day care.) This gains importance at this time as the
    public schools have announced that they are reducing
    kindergarten to half-day sessions.

    "Any school accomplishments, academic, sports, or otherwise
    are placed in the parish bulletin.

    "We enter every civic contest open to school children in the
    area. Sometimes we win. The whole class shows up for
    presentation ceremonies, in uniform, both as support for our
    classmate, but also to let the community know about us.

    "Participation in community Christmas shows are a great way to
    advertise the school. Look for planning of these events before
    Halloween. Your local councilperson's office is aware of these
    if public property (such as parks and auditoriums) are

    "Students are required as part of their religion grade to give
    service. For our older children, their service must include
    the civic community. This can take many forms. Years ago,
    through first a letter-writing campaign and then petitions,
    our school was responsible for gaining a swimming pool at the
    local park. We showed up at the mayor's office, in uniform,
    and had several pictures taken for the newspapers. Find a
    project in the neighborhood that has importance and get the
    kids involved. Don't forget to call the newspapers, if they
    forget to notice you. It's free publicity for them as well as
    your school.

    "Open houses are good to a certain degree, but better if
    planned in conjunction with some other event going on in the
    parish. Otherwise, pretty much just the parents of the
    children already enrolled in the school want to come and go
    through the school. These really have to be strategically
    planned. We have a local private school (non-religious) that
    has an open house almost every month. Sad to say, this is
    sending a "we-are-desperate" message to the neighborhood. I
    would say no more than 2 open houses in a school year (one
    near the beginning of school, one after Easter, but before
    summer vacation) would be effective.

    "Summer school, especially one planned with day care is
    another way to get noticed. We are fortunate to have a very
    good day care, and let's face it, many parents are really
    looking for that in the summer time as well as an educational

    "I have a marketing committee meeting tomorrow night. I'll let
    you know if any more ideas pop up. Hope there's something here
    you can use."

    UPDATE: Last night I had the second marketing committee
    meeting since I originally posted the preceding. We are in
    the process of planning a "Walkathon" for late October. It is
    an involved process, but there is an e-book available to help
    plan this out. We already have one corporate pledge of
    sponsorship for $500. Additional to this, our principal
    applied for and was granted government title funds to update
    each classroom with laptop computers for each teacher and
    Smartboards for each classroom. Our technology has leaped
    ahead of our neighboring Catholic schools and most of the
    public elementary schools in our area. There is only one
    rather pricey ($1000/mo.) school in the neighborhood that has
    more (a laptop for each student). Re: tuition - Try to work
    with your parish on this. Find out what organization may help
    with this. We have garnered assistance from the Children's
    Education Fund for many of our students. And above all, once
    you have some sort of help from an outside organization
    (especially, financially), be sure to show your appreciation.
    They will remember your gratitude next year.

    I know this is long, but I really hope you can use something
    from this.

    Dale D