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Admission Workflows to Re-engage Families Who Didn't Enroll
Jana Hoglund

I don’t know much about fishing ... I can’t imagine waking up at the crack of dawn, hauling equipment down to a cold lake, dealing with the slimy worms, waiting for what seems like an eternity, then finally feeling that tug on your line when BOOM — the line snaps!

It can be frustrating when families, especially those who’ve had meaningful engagement, fall off the enrollment journey along the way. You’ve cast a wide net and worked hard to catch the interest of families, but in the end, they didn’t bite.

To meet your school’s admissions and enrollment goals, you need a strategy, patience, the right tools, and a little incentive in order to take prospective families from “inquiry” to “enrolled.” Parents who inquired or applied — but didn’t enroll — were interested in what your school has to offer, so what changed, and what can you do?

Do you toss these prospects back and hope they’ll swim back someday? No way! It’s time to reel them back in with these workflows to re-engage families who didn’t enroll.

First, do your research

Collecting the right kind of personal information early on in the admissions process about academic interests, hobbies, or passions will help personalize your admissions outreach to families and increase conversions. Not only will that help build meaningful relationships with prospective families, but your communications will be more relevant to their interests and more likely to keep their attention through the enrollment journey.

Also, understanding which families have dropped off and at what point in the funnel is key for deciding when and how to communicate in hopes of re-engagement. Knowing this information will be critical in analyzing if there are specific points in your admissions process that aren’t yielding the results you want.

SchoolAdmin funnel Screenshot

Finalsite's admissions and enrollment management system, SchoolAdmin, is designed to identify those critical points in the enrollment process and create a personalized experience for both parents and your admissions team.

The SchoolAdmin dashboard funnel offers a quick and easy way to view your key admissions metrics, so you can automatically track the cumulative totals for inquiries, applicants, accepted students, and enrolled students in real-time or at specific times of the year.

Get Started with Messages XR | Finalsite

Next, create your email workflows

Automated workflows are sets of emails that are strategically scheduled and sent based on the users’ engagement or behavior. In this case, you would be specifically targeting families that inquired or applied but didn’t complete enrollment.

Automated email workflows are a lifesaver for admissions staff! By keeping families engaged without seemingly having to lift a finger, workflows allow you to customize content based on the information you’ve collected from families and where they are in the admissions journey.

admissions Workflow example on a laptop

What you include in your email sequences will vary depending on at what point in the admissions process the family disengaged, so you’ll want to segment your list based on the enrollment journey. You will also need to consider the timing of your emails as they relate to your admissions and enrollment season.

[READ MORE: Email Automation Best Practices: 8 Tips for Getting Started]

Here are some examples of how you might build an email workflow to re-engage a prospective family that did not enroll:

Email #1: The Check-in

People are busy, life happens, and sometimes replying to an important email gets lost in the shuffle. A person receives over 100 emails a day on average! When looking to re-engage with a family, offer them the benefit of the doubt, and make sure the tone of your email is friendly and lighthearted.

A great way to reopen the lines of communication is to share an update from the start of your school year. Did you have a fun open house? Share some photos and how well attended it was. Share photos from the first few days of school and student quotes about what they are most excited about this school year.

Maybe you've found out that the student was enrolled elsewhere. Sending a check-in email gives you the chance to see if they are satisfied while reminding them of your value proposition. Sharing the key differentiators of your school will reinforce what makes your school special and strengthen the reasons why a family should reconsider or plan for next year.

Communicating your school's unique story will help you stand out and lead to higher conversion rates at every step of the funnel — particularly in applicant-to-enrolled ratios and yield. Creating personalized and interest-based messages is a simple strategy that can significantly improve email open and click-through rates. If you know an applicant is interested in the arts or athletics, sending messages highlighting stories and information around these interests may increase the likelihood of engagement.

Grace Brethen email on a laptop

As part of Grace Brethren School’s workflows, the school engages applicants who are still in the decision stage with a value proposition (“We Educate the Heart”) and calls to action (CTAs) for affordability and continuing the application. This email highlights the fact that families still have the opportunity to complete the enrollment process but also adds a component of time sensitivity with the “there is still room,” but maybe not for long!

Email #2: The Invite

Who doesn't love an exclusive offer? A great way to re-engage a prospective family is to offer them something that hasn't yet been made available to the general public.

Since these families are mid-funnel, you won't have to provide as much of a reintroduction of your school. Offer exclusive opportunities like early registration for upcoming events like an open house or visit day. Maybe even toss in some school swag as an extra incentive! Welcome families back to campus to see everything that's happened this year.

mcgillis school email in a laptop mockup

The McGillis School created a useful email workflow to re-engage families who missed their open house with links to schedule a personal tour, submit an application, or learn more about their programs and offerings.

Email #3: The Ask

If a family didn’t enroll, following up with them in person is an excellent way to re-engage them with your school and in the admissions process. Invite them to set up a one-on-one meeting to answer their questions or schedule a private campus tour for another look.

Screenshot of St. Mary's Admission Calendar

St. Mary’s Academy in Colorado opens up its admissions calendar for families to schedule their visits to campus throughout the fall. Finalsite’s SchoolAdmin platform allows you to easily share direct calendar links in your emails, allowing families to sign up for open houses, tours, and even personal meetings. Email confirmations are sent out immediately once an appointment is scheduled, and you can even set it up to send out appointment reminders a specific number of days before the appointment is scheduled. 

Besides the option to meet, giving families specific calls to action is important to keep them moving forward in the admissions journey. What is the action you want the prospective family to take? The action will differ depending on which stage of the admissions journey the family disengaged.

Do you have a prospective student visit day coming up? Share details of the event and how to sign up. Be sure to include any important enrollment or financial aid decision deadlines that aren't to be missed!

Email #4: Collect the feedback

The admissions funnel is called that for a reason — not everyone that enters at the top will make it all the way through. Despite the best efforts on the part of a hardworking admissions team, sometimes there is only so much you can do. 

Send an email acknowledging that they haven’t engaged, give them another opportunity to connect, and provide feedback. Using a simple form asking for feedback on the process, what they liked or didn’t like, and if there was anything that could have been done differently is a great way to gain valuable insight into your admissions process and make changes in the future. It will allow the prospective family to feel that their feedback has been heard.

Woods Academy Admission email on an ipad

The Woods Academy created a “no open inquiry,” as part of a Workflow to engage families who had inquired but showed no engagement. Notice the link to notify the admissions office if they’re no longer interested.

Remember, you always want to end on a positive note while leaving the door open for opportunities for the next admissions cycle. Even if someone doesn't enroll, you still want them singing your praises or saying, "it wasn't the right fit for us, but you should still check out that school!"

Key Takeaway

Just because families didn’t bite this year doesn’t mean they’ve left the candidate pool entirely. With a set of automated emails, your admissions workflows can be a strategic line to re-engage a large group of interested families just waiting beneath the surface.

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Jana Hoglund headshot


Jana is the Client Marketing Specialist with Finalsite, focused on sharing and celebrating client stories and their successes. She's spent nearly the last decade working within the field of education, specifically within independent schools working in the offices of admissions, development, and communications.

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