The COVID-19 pandemic has had numerous trickle-down effects on the education sector—several of which we’re only beginning to understand. In addition to immediate impacts like staff shortages, absenteeism, and concerns over the loss of instructional time, private schools are also uncovering longtail financial challenges.
But school leaders are highly resourceful and adaptive professionals. Despite current challenges, there are steps you can take to mitigate long-term financial impacts on your institution, engage prospective families, and in turn, support your school's enrollment goals.
To help get your wheels turning, here are several ideas worth considering:
1. Offer Online Courses to Students Outside the School
Your school’s greatest value lies in its exemplary education — including your highly qualified teachers and well-crafted curriculum. To help bring in extra revenue, consider making classes available to students outside your school via a course audit program. You can offer classes to families interested in attending your school in the future, as well as those seeking extra enrichment opportunities for their children.
The Bryn Mawr School is opening its virtual doors to high school students through a full-time online program, giving young women the flexibility and convenience to experience Bryn Mawr’s academic programs no matter where they live.
2. Offset New Technology Costs
When schools across the U.S. purchased software like Zoom, Adobe Connect, and a myriad of other virtual learning tools, few expected to still be relying on this tech year later. Now that virtual learning is here for the foreseeable future, it may be time to consider offsetting subscriptions with a small “distance learning fee.” This is a really easy auxiliary revenue source to add to your list.
3. Provide Specialized Before/After-School Courses
From music lessons to online foreign language, fitness, and cooking classes, lots of families and students are picking up new skills and hobbies. Not to mention, sometimes families just need a little help with child-care before and after the school day. Why not offer a program through your school?
Consider offering after-school courses on these subjects and make them available to students and parents alike. For extra convenience, offer classes that cover life skills for high-school-aged students, like personal finance and career planning.
The Woodlands Christian Academy offers before and after school care, a convenient option for working and busy families with students of all ages. Their Warrior Life program includes a wide range of additional revenue sources like extracurricular activities, campus events, clinics, summer programs, and more—tons of ways for everyone to get involved and utilize their amazing campus and resources.
4. Create New Clubs with Future Life Benefits
Since the early days of the pandemic, the lack of socialization has been just as challenging for kids as it's been for adults. Parents have always looked to their school community for support and as a social outlet, and families are eager to get back into the mix.
Consider taking social clubs online (with a small membership fee), so students and parents alike have a place to meet new families and bond over shared interests. Book clubs, baking classes, video game clubs—a variety of online offerings ensures everyone can find an activity that interests them.
5. Rental Facilities for Gatherings
Many campuses are home to spaces that make ideal locations for community and private events. To bring in extra revenue when your campus isn’t in use, consider renting out auditoriums to individuals and groups for gatherings, presentations, meetings, and celebrations. If your school has a chapel, consider making it available for small wedding ceremonies and baptisms. Chambers of commerce, board meetings, local musicians, and event speakers—there are a variety of community groups and professionals looking for a new space or venue.
Bloomfield Hills Schools has an entire section of its site dedicated to showcasing the areas on campus available to rent. From a performing arts center, a nature center—even a waterfront area, its campus could be the perfect setting for someone's upcoming event.
6. Offer a Homeschool Partnership
If you’re not already extending a partnership to homeschool families, you may be missing a huge opportunity. This can quickly become one of your best alternate revenue sources—especially when many parents are looking for alternative or supplemental schooling options. While families can choose to homeschool part-time and supplement with curriculum from a partner school, students can split up their day between home and on-campus learning.
7. Develop College Readiness Programming
While your school likely includes a college readiness program, additional preparation can go a long way toward helping students get accepted to their top pick for colleges and universities. Consider offering a program that helps students with test prep, essay writing, mock interviews, and navigating the application process. You can also prepare a seminar for parents that includes topics like financial aid, helping students stay on track, and life as an “empty nester.”
8. Offer Extended Access to Your School's Athletic or Wellness Facilities
Does your school boast "state-of-the-art" athletic facilities? Consider providing after-hour access to these spaces for a membership fee. You'll be providing prospective students’ families a convenient glimpse into your athletic or wellness programs during some of the busiest hours at local fitness clubs and health centers.
St. George's School takes this approach by providing a convenient online booking tool for reserving time at its athletic facilities. Whether it's time in the swimming pool or on the hockey rink, access to a professional venue is just a few clicks away.
9. Create Live Virtual Programming for Preschool-Aged Children
Even if you don’t have a preschool or pre-K program at your school, creating experiences for younger children can offer multiple benefits for your institution. Creating a program for younger children can introduce your school and programs to external audiences you may have not otherwise known about your school.
Live, interactive programs like music classes, storytime with a librarian, art lessons, and movement classes are all excellent options for toddlers and preschoolers.
10. Hold an Online Auction Event
Auctions are popular fundraising activities because they’re fun for attendees and typically highly lucrative for schools. Until all families are comfortable gathering in public, it may be a good idea to consider adding a virtual component to your annual auction or gala.
Be sure to choose an energetic and charismatic host who can keep everyone motivated—even from afar. Plus, because parents can log in from anywhere (and don’t need to schedule a sitter), you may enjoy higher attendance and participation than traditional on-campus events.
There are many alternate private school revenue sources available to your school—you just need to know where to look. By exploring a few of these opportunities, you can introduce new families to your school and continue to deliver the top-quality education your current families expect.