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Making Magic: 7 Admissions & Enrollment Lessons from Harry Potter
Kristen Doverspike

If you’re like me, you probably spent a good portion of your childhood (and, let's be honest, adult life, too) waiting for an owl to drop a Hogwarts acceptance letter at your doorstep.

While decades old, the magic of Harry Potter remains as relevant and captivating as ever — and it teaches us some important enrollment marketing strategies that can benefit all schools (even Muggle schools).

Help will always be given at Hogwarts Finalsite to those who ask for it, so we’re going to conjure up seven lessons you can bring back to your admissions strategy and make every prospective student feel as excited as a First Year entering the Great Hall.

Lesson 1: Personalize Your Communications

Each Hogwarts acceptance letter is personally addressed and delivered. While you might not send 100 owls to ensure your communications are delivered, you can still work some magic with personalization and automation to reach the right student at the right time.

Tailoring your communications can make both prospective and current students feel uniquely seen, increasing their interest and engagement. It can be as simple as using a personalization token for their first name to as detailed as triggering custom workflows based on their actions.

accepted letter from harry potter

Look at those personal touches — you can do the same with your email communications!

Tip: Steal these email workflow examples

Lesson 2: Make the Invisible Visible

Just like Platform 9 3/4, many aspects of your school might be “invisible'” to prospective students — they may not see your value until you point them in the right direction.

screenshot from harry potter platform 9 3/4

Don’t make your community run toward a proverbial brick wall, hoping they find what they’re looking for. You can make your school’s best qualities shine through storytelling! Share alumni success stories, highlight unique traditions, or feature day-in-the-life videos of student experiences. 

Webb School Why screenshot

The Webb School showcases its community, faculty mentorships, supportive boarding program, and many other reasons why students should choose it. A mix of videos, slideshows, and links to take the next step supports a family's decision to apply. This kind of content can help your target audience uncover the magic of your school…no Revelio spell needed.

fireplace floo from harry potter

Lesson 3: Simplify the Enrollment Process

Even the biggest Harry Potter fan like myself can admit that not everything in the wizarding world is particularly convenient — traveling via Floo powder or Portkeys, a lack of digital (and physically safe) banking, using quills and parchment…I’ll take the modern comforts of Muggle life any day.

That said, the ability to have most questions and needs answered with a spell or potion can make anyone want to get their wands. You can bring that same joy to your admissions process by simply, simplifying.

Here are just a few tips for success (no potion required):

  • Make the admissions section of your website easy to find and navigate.
  • Streamline your forms — they should be mobile-friendly and have limited fields to ensure higher completion rates.
  • Create simple but heartfelt thank-you pages for every admissions-related form that set expectations and keep their journeys going.
  • Establish automated email communications to families (remember Lesson 1!)
  • Offer virtual tours and/or interactive maps. The Maurader’s Map shows exactly who’s where at any given time at Hogwarts — offer the same sense of wonder and discoverability for your campus! We solemnly swear that it will see engagement.

Free ebook: The Enrollment Daily Planner

Lesson 4: Foster a Sense of Community (House Cup)

Whether you’re a Hufflepuff or a Slytherin, a little friendly rivalry builds a strong sense of community when everyone feels like they belong to a particular group. You don’t need a sorting hat, though — when potential students and their parents see a tight-knit, welcoming community, it will make your school seem like a second home.

This draws in new students and keeps them engaged long-term, which can help your school’s retention efforts.

Canisius house system screenshot

Canisius High School highlights its Harry Potter-esque house system in the student life section of its website. Much like Hogwarts, students are encouraged to participate in activities that help build strong bonds, reach their full potential, and have some fun along the way.

Lesson 5: Create a One-Stop Resource Hub for Accepted Wizards

Straight from the desk of the Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts, acceptance letters were accompanied by a list of required textbooks, materials, and uniform specifications for the upcoming school year. 

Amid the excitement of starting a magical year, creating a one-stop resource hub or landing page like this makes the transition smoother for new students and their families. It ensures everyone has the necessary information right from the start, reducing confusion and helping students feel prepared and welcomed.

Just as Hogwarts’ letter prepares young wizards for their new adventure, a well-designed resource hub can set the stage for a successful and exciting school experience, complete with:

  • Welcome Information: Like the Hogwarts acceptance letter, provide a warm welcome message that excites students about joining your school.
  • Checklist of Required Items: Offer a clear and concise checklist of everything the student will need for the school year. This could include textbooks, specific school supplies, uniform details, acceptable magical pets, and technology requirements.
  • Important Dates: Include a calendar of important dates, such as the start of classes, orientation days, and school events. This helps families plan ahead and ensures students don’t miss out on important activities.
  • Contact Information: Provide contact details for key school personnel like admissions officers, school counselors, and the main office. This makes it easy for new students and their families to reach out with any questions or concerns.
  • Guidelines and Policies: Explain important school rules, policies, and procedures to help students understand what's expected and how to prepare for their new school environment.
  • Links to More Resources: Include links to the school website, parent portals, and other useful online resources. If your school has social media pages or a student portal, link those too.
Misericordia accepted students page screenshot

Misericordia University combines many of these strategies to create an accepted student page. Complete with feeds from social media platforms, information about upcoming events, and the ever-important deposit to secure a seat, the page offers a range of resources for parents and students to celebrate and start their journey as accepted students.

Keep Reading: How to Use Your Website to Drive Accepted Student Engagement

Lesson 6: Have a Strong Patronus (aka Brand)

A strong brand presence for your school can serve as a protective and guiding force, attracting students and families while warding off competing schools. Much like a Patronus, a charm that wards off dark creatures like Dementors, your school’s brand can become a symbol of excellence in the real world.

Sure, every Patronus is unique to the witch or wizard who casts it, but here’s how to conjure your own:

  • Unique Identity: Your school's brand should be distinct and reflective of what makes your school unique, like your educational approach, programs, community environment, or even geography.
  • Positive Impact: A Patronus acts as a guardian. Similarly, when a crisis occurs or times get tough, a strong school brand helps keep negative perceptions away and supports positive feelings among prospective families and the broader community.
  • Emotional Connection: The ability to conjure a Patronus depends on focusing on one’s most positive memories. Your brand should connect emotionally with students and families and focus on experiences that make your school a welcoming and inviting place.
  • Consistency: Just as a Patronus is recognizable in its form and effect, your school’s branding should be consistent across all platforms. Whether on your school’s website, admissions experience, newsletters, or social media, maintaining a consistent message and visual style strengthens your brand.
Green Vale Branding example

Green Vale School’s commitment to a love of learning, creativity, leadership, and preparation is felt on every page, with bright colors and imagery, inviting language, and design elements. With a custom inquiry form embedded directly into its admission pages, that branded experience flows naturally into its admissions process with Finalsite Enrollment, Finalsite's enrollment management system.

Lesson 7: Prepare for Challenges With Data-Driven Strategies

You might need one or two terms of Divination to predict the future, but you need data-informed enrollment strategies to make sure your school can meet its enrollment goals.

In the Harry Potter world, students at Hogwarts take Divination classes to try to see into the future and Defense Against the Dark Arts to prepare for potential dangers. These classes show the importance of being ready for the unexpected, but just like Hogwarts students, admissions offices need to access and understand the data to prepare for the future.

  • Access to Data: Think of admissions data as your school's version of Divination. It might not tell the future, but it does give important clues. By looking at past trends in applications and enrollments, you can predict busy times, see the trends, and plan better for future enrollment periods.
  • Being Proactive: The students who joined Dumbledore’s Army did so knowing that challenges were coming. Similarly, schools need to be proactive, not just reactive. This means developing strategies for increasing student enrollment based on access to real-time data. That way, you know when to increase marketing efforts or offer more admission events to attract families.
  • Scenario Planning: The Battle of Hogwarts showed the importance of being ready for different outcomes. Your school can use scenario planning to think about different possible future situations. For example, what if fewer students enroll? What if there is a sudden increase in interest? Planning for different scenarios helps ensure that your school can adapt quickly and effectively and not rely on magic.
Holy child admissions page in a laptop mockup

At Connelly School of the Holy Child, migrating to Finalsite Enrollment was part of a broader strategy to widen the admissions funnel and manage the data and touchpoints from inquiry to enrollment.

“From an initial inquiry to families applying and attending or not, it’s very easy to see where people are in the process and to get a clear picture of the touch points and what happened along the way,” said Meghan Cross, head of enrollment management and financial aid.

Key Takeaway

You don't need a wand to cast a magical impression on prospective families. Just as Hogwarts captivates its new students, personalizes communications, streamlines processes, and creates a welcoming community atmosphere, your school can transform its enrollment process into an enchanting journey.

Finalsite Enrollment Tour


Kristen Doverspike headshot

Kristen directs the strategy and creation of content across email, website and social media communications at Finalsite. With over five years of experience in content strategy and digital marketing, Kristen has worked with clients around the country to develop their branding, SEM, SEO, social media, and inbound efforts. She holds and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and Hootsuite.

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