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Promoting Your School’s Open House: The Complete Checklist
Connor Gleason

Hosting an open house for your school can be nerve-wracking. You've got a million things to do, from the big stuff all the way down to the tiny details.

"Did we make a strong impression?" 

"Did we order enough cookies?" (No.)

And let's be honest, sometimes things slip through the cracks. It happens to the best of us, and there's nothing more frustrating than seeing a lower turnout than you expected, and you can't help but wonder: "What more could we have done?"

Your open house isn't a line item to add to your marketing strategy or another reason to stress about attendance figures. It's a golden opportunity to roll out the welcome mat and show off all the fantastic things that make your school the best choice for prospective families.

To make your life easier (and your open house a success!), we've put together a promotional checklist and some open house ideas for your school's admissions and marketing office's needs — from the planning stages all the way through the follow-up.

Here’s a comprehensive promotions checklist for teams to effectively plan, manage, and promote your private school's open house.

Pre-Event Planning

Decide on a date and time that is likely to get the maximum attendance, and consider factors like work hours, community events, school schedules, faculty/staff availability, and other events that might interfere and cause scheduling conflicts (like a holiday, “the big game,” or a long weekend.)

You should give yourself 6-8 weeks minimum to promote your open house, which means you’ll need everything on this checklist ready to go before then.

Also, identify your target audience and set specific, measurable objectives for the event. For instance, you may aim for a 20% increase in event attendance from the previous year or 50 total registrations.

To Do:

  • Decide on a suitable date and time for maximum registrations and attendance.
  • Identify your target audience (parents of lower school, upper school, etc)
  • Set specific, measurable objectives for the event.

Branding and Messaging

A clear, compelling message about your school and the open house is vital to separate your event from others. This could revolve around unique program offerings, state-of-the-art facilities, or a distinguished faculty. Consistency is key — your brand should be reflected across all promotional materials, whether it's a logo, email, social ad, or your school’s open house flier.

To Do:

  • Develop a clear, compelling message about your school and the open house — why is this the event families don’t want to miss?
  • Ensure consistency in this message across all promotional materials.

Keep Reading: 10 Highly Effective Ways to Promote Your School's Open House

Free ebook: The Enrollment Daily Planner

Your School's Website and SEO

Update your website with all relevant open house details — this includes a dedicated landing page for the open house that can serve as a one-stop information hub with event dates, an agenda, registration links, etc. Incorporate SEO best practices and techniques to improve your website's search engine rankings, which will make your event more popular.

To Do:

  • Update your website with all relevant open house details.
  • Incorporate SEO techniques for better online visibility.
  • Create a dedicated landing page for the open house.
  • Build a custom “thank-you/ confirmation” page for registrants, complete with more helpful information.
  • Add your open house date to your homepage, admissions calendar, and main event calendar
  • Include a page notification to key website pages, like your homepage, admission pages, tuition pages, and inquiry page.
Thorton Academy Open house

Digital Marketing

PPC Advertising

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on Google Ads or Bing Ads can drive a significant amount of targeted traffic to your open house event page. Start by identifying keywords relevant to your event, like "best private school open house" or "private schools in [your location]."

Write enticing ad copy that resonates with your target audience, compelling them to click through, and over the next 4-6 weeks, monitor the performance of your ads so that you can tweak as necessary.

To Do:

  • Identify relevant keywords for your open house and include them in your ads.
  • Write relevant, compelling ad copy.
  • Choose the right platforms (Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc.).
  • Optimize your open house’s landing content so your ad will perform even better.
  • Monitor and adjust ad performance as necessary.

Keep Reading: 3 Qualities of Great School Landing Pages

Social Media Advertising

Social media platforms are a great option for targeting specific audiences interested in your open house, so leverage these pay-to-play platforms and help your ad reach the right audience. Craft engaging ad content that speaks to your audience's interests and concerns.

For example, an Instagram ad could use striking visuals of your campus, while a Facebook ad might highlight alumni success stories. Don't forget to track and optimize your ad performance!

To Do:

  • Select the right social media platforms for your audience.
  • Utilize platform-specific targeting options.
  • Create engaging ad content tailored to each platform, and link your ad back to your open house registration page.
  • Track and optimize your ads for better performance.
Philadelphia School Open House ad

The Philadelphia School got the word out about its open house with a targeted Facebook ad — perfect for targeting homes with children within a certain radius or with similar interests to your current fan base!

Keep Reading: Digital Marketing for Schools: Paid Social vs Paid Search Ads

Organic Social Media Promotion

Social media isn't just for cat videos; organic content is great for generating interest in your open house. Share regular updates, behind-the-scenes posts, a countdown, or quotes to stir up some excitement. Don't forget to use a unique hashtag for your event, like #YourSchoolOpenHouse and encourage conversations around it.

To Do:

  • Share regular updates, behind-the-scenes peeks, or countdowns.
  • Use a blend of trending and unique hashtags for your event.
West Ridge Open House

Westridge School for Girls promoted its open house on Instagram— don’t forget to share the event with current friends and fans who can like, share, and help promote the event organically, too!

Email Marketing

A well-planned email campaign can work wonders. Personalize your emails for different segments of your audience — a prospective student might be interested in your school's STEM program, while another might be looking to tour your athletics facilities.

Trinity Valley Newsletter

Trinity Valley keeps its admissions events at the forefront of its school activities with regular emails from its admissions office for prospective families. If you’ve collected that information from previous inquiries, you can consider that content in your invites. Also, send timely reminders the week and the day before to ensure your event stays top-of-mind.

To Do:

  • Personalize your emails for different segments of your audience.
  • Include engaging visuals with a branded template, and make your CTA’s clear and enticing.
  • Send timely reminders and follow-ups.
Saddie River Day inquiry

Saddle River can collect open house registrations, schedule tours, and more with Finalsite Enrollment. Better yet, they ask for pertinent information to help personalize their communications with families before and after each admissions event.

Offline Promotion Strategies

Offline promotions are just as important as your digital strategies, too. Consider distributing flyers or lawn signs in your local community, placing posters in high-traffic areas, or sending direct mailers to families who have previously inquired but have not applied or enrolled. Reach out to local press and media outlets for event coverage, too.

To Do:

  • Design and distribute flyers, lawn signs, or direct mail to your local community.
  • Reach out to local press and media outlets for event coverage.
  • Don’t forget to include a QR code or eas-to-read URL for folks to register

Keep Reading: 10 Last-Minute Tips for Your School's Best Open House Yet

Leveraging Current Students, Staff, Parents, and Alumni

Your school community is your strongest asset, so encourage staff, alumni, and your parent’s association to share the event within their networks. A "Refer a Friend" program can increase event visibility and boost attendance.

Parents can be great brand ambassadors. Equip them with promotional tools like graphics and language for emails or social posts. Parents sharing their positive experiences is a HUGE draw for potential families.

To Do:

  • Share testimonials from students, parents, and alumni.
  • Encourage staff to share the event within their networks.
  • Organize a "Refer a Friend" program 
  • Equip parents with promotional tools and enable families to help spread the word for you with postcards or flyers.
  • Encourage parents to attend and share their positive experiences.
St Mary's Ryken open house

St. Mary’s Ryken open house’s schedule is full of fine arts events, presentations, and meet and greets from faculty and administrators. Leverage their expertise and charisma and offer families a glimpse into a day at your school.

Partnering with Local Organizations or Feeder Schools

Leave no stone unturned — partnerships with local businesses, elementary schools, or community centers can extend your reach even further.

To Do:

  • Form partnerships with local businesses, libraries, or community centers.
  • Offer special invites to members of partner organizations.

Analytics and Tracking

Use your website and social analytics to measure the success of your promotional efforts. Email open rates, website visits, social media engagement, and ad performance can all help improve your strategies for the next month, season, or year.

To Do:

  • Use digital tools like Google Analytics to measure the success of your promotional efforts.
  • Utilize data to fine-tune your strategies.

Follow-Up and Next Steps

Phew! After successfully hosting your open house, the journey doesn't stop there. It's important to keep the momentum going, engage with the attendees (and those who couldn’t make it), and guide families toward the next step.

To Do:

  • Post-Event Follow-Up Email

A warm thank-you email is a fantastic way to extend your gratitude to the attendees for taking the time to visit your school. This email could include a quick survey for feedback, highlights and photos from the event, and important links to resources they might need (like application forms, financial aid information, or maybe even a coupon to your school’s online store.

Social Media Updates

  • After the event, keep your social media buzzing with photos, videos, or testimonies from the open house. Encourage attendees to share their experiences using your branded hashtag.

Encourage Further Engagement

Guide families to the next step. Depending on your school's admission process, this could be scheduling a 1:1 meeting, prompting an inquiry, or requesting more information. You can do this through:

  • Email Calls-to-Action: Add clear, compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) in your follow-up emails. For example, "Click here to schedule a one-on-one meeting with our admissions officer" or "Interested in learning more about financial aid? Request more information today."
  • Social Media Posts: Share posts that directly invite families to engage further. For instance, "Loved our open house? Book a shadow day and experience a day on campus yourself!"
  • Phone Calls or Texts: A follow-up communication can provide an opportunity to answer any further questions, clarify doubts, and establish a personal connection.

Remember, an open house is an early step in a family's journey with your school. Proper follow-up and engagement can help move the initial interest into firm applications. Be proactive, patient, and approachable to guide families smoothly through the admissions process.

Key Takeaway

There's a lot to do, but effective promotion is the backbone of a successful open house. If promoted well, your open house can boost inquiries, enhance brand visibility, and build lasting community relationships all year. Follow this checklist to ensure that your next open house is well attended and leaves a lasting impression on families — just don't forget to order enough cookies!

Free ebook: The ultimate enrollment Daily Planner

Connor Gleason Headshot


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.

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