You’ve collected all the records and documentation, held interviews, hosted open houses, spent a significant time evaluating applicants, and reached your decisions. Now, there’s just one final phase in the admission process before the work transitions to enrollment: sending acceptance notifications.
But this step isn’t a small one — it’s the culmination of all the hard work you and your team have invested in during the past several months and it’s one of your final opportunities to leave a positive impression on families.
That’s why it’s essential your admission decisions are sent with care, creativity, and attention —acceptance offers should receive the same level of care as every preceding step of your admission and enrollment process.
Here are tips and ideas you can use to increase acceptance of your admissions offers and ensure your offer is one families can’t refuse.
How to inform students of their acceptance
Remember the days of the big envelopes? For many years, institutions sent all admissions decisions via standard mail — the thought was an email was too impersonal and a letter was more powerful. Now there are endless amounts of creative ways to send acceptance announcements.
But today's parents grew up in a digital world and they’ve grown accustomed to receiving important information via digital channels. By some accounts, 99 percent of email users check their inboxes every day, and some as many as 20 times a day.
They'll be expecting an email, but to stand out in a crowded space it'll take a little creativity to ensure your offer isn’t missed.
It’s essential you include the following:
1. A celebratory and congratulatory statement
Readers will be scanning the message first to look for good news, so it’s helpful to start the offer with a statement like, “Congratulations!” or “It’s with great pleasure that we inform you…” It’s crucial to send acceptance notifications as soon as possible after making your decision. Remember: candidates and their families are likely considering other schools too. The sooner you send your announcement, the easier you’ll make their decision process.
2. Important upcoming dates
In addition to clearly stating the deadline for offer acceptance, it’s an excellent time to let recipients know about orientation and information about other relevant events. An admissions-specific calendar with important deadlines and events is a great idea.
3. Who to contact with questions
As prospective students transition from the admission phase to the enrollment process, parents may be confused about who to reach out to with questions or concerns. Be sure to add contact information for the admissions office and instructions for accessing resources online.
4. When and how to submit offer acceptance
Make it crystal-clear what the next steps are: enrollment. You want that conversion, and continuing the process with your enrollment management system (EMS) will be the obvious next step. A webpage built for acceptance students is a great way to consolidate this information and help celebrate the announcement.
Nerinx Hall included everything parents and students would want to see — celebration from current students and the school president, social hashtags to help spread the good news, and information on the next steps — there's even information about downloading their school mobile app and how to start joining the fun!
Ways to make your admission offers stand out
In most cases, candidates have applied to multiple schools and are comparing several admission offers. We are seeing more and more schools move away from traditional letters of acceptance and instead are sending an email or a simple text message, especially when 97 percent of texts are read within 15 minutes of being sent.
While this is easy and can help cut to the chase, you lose the excitement and celebration of this important moment. So keep these in mind when sending your acceptances:
1. Get creative
A school acceptance is a cause for celebration, so feel free to make the experience fun and memorable. Place letters in colorful packaging with confetti. Surprise students with hand-written, hand-delivered offers from admission personnel, a school mascot, student ambassadors, or even the school president.
Delivery by drone
If you have a robotics team or group of kids in the Drone Club — this would be a really cool way to deliver an offer of admission! You might even have a teacher or parent who would love to help!
Send a parent acceptance packet
Don’t forget your prospective parents! You have to woo them too! Include a personal note from a parent ambassador a teacher or a department chair from within the student’s area of interest. Send them an invitation to join the Parent Association/Mom’s Club/Dad’s Club or ask them to post a student or family photo with a hashtag for your school.
An Instagram Reel captured the moment when Pomfret Academy's mascot made a special delivery just as acceptance packets were ready for the mail — don't forget to share the announcement on social and have your followers join the excitement!
2. Be personable
You can even send postcards from student affinity groups, like a sports group, fine arts club, or key faculty members. This will show your school cares and will go above and beyond to support families.
Special-hand-delivered acceptance letters
Rally the troops, plan the routes, and set out to hand deliver those offers. It’s like the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes (remember those?)
- Yard signs are still fun and support your local marketing efforts
- Cookies with your logo are memorable (and delicious)
- A gift certificate for school swag will get them on your campus or online at your school store.
Cor Jesu Academy's admissions office paired its swag with its acceptance welcome packages when they sent out their announcements — a great way to celebrate in style!
A Personal video
- This isn't a stuffy, formal video from the top — create fun videos from staff and fellow students welcoming newly admitted candidates.
- Enlist your students by giving them a list of names to make a handful of welcome videos.
- Smartphone footage is okay! Keep it short and sweet, but personal and powerful.
A personal phone call makes a difference when it comes to letting someone know that you want them to join your community. You can do this to either inform them of their acceptance or to check in after offers have been sent, but it helps families get excited and form a meaningful connection.
Order the pizza, get the lists ready, and provide a script for teachers, parents, students, and alumni. Make use of all the data within your CRM or school admissions software to tailor messages specifically to each student. Call out specifics from previous conversations to show students and parents you remember them.
For example, if a student is particularly interested in your school’s soccer team, use this opportunity to let them know how excited the coach is to meet them.
3. Make saying "yes" easy
Busy parents are looking for simplicity — especially after a rigorous season of school applications and interviews. By using a robust student enrollment management system, you can provide a streamlined, straightforward process they can easily complete anywhere at any time.
(A good enrollment software solution will also help you quickly generate personalized acceptance letters to make your life easier, too.)
Include a save-the-date postcard in the offer of admission or as a stand-alone piece that can be pinned to their bulletin board or placed on the fridge. It’s a unique way to let them know they are invited to join you and to get them excited about that first day of school.
Show your prospect that you value them on a personal level. Handwritten notes from a student or teacher evoke personal sentiment. “We wish YOU were here with US.” “We wish you were ONE OF US.” Again, they are authentic and represent the sentiments of the writer.
In the time between your last recruitment effort, keep the excitement flowing and make sure you are building toward this moment the whole season through. While sending admission decisions is one of the final steps in the admission evaluation process, it’s also one of the most important. By implementing these tips, you can help boost offer acceptances and consistently meet your school’s enrollment goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.