Your school's culture is more about your classes, programs, and athletics — it's about the stories and experiences that define your community. You're always on the lookout for creative ways to make your school or district stand out, and showcasing your students' remarkable achievements is a powerful way to do just that — it's a vital part of building and maintaining your school's brand.
Authentic student testimonials are essential for highlighting your school's identity, strengthening your community, and celebrating the incredible young adults who make your school special.
Creating friendships, succeeding at a new sport, overcoming challenges, and discovering passions — these are the stories that enrich the educational experience for your students but also help to create lasting connections between your school, prospective families, and the wider community.
When you share your students' success stories, you're not only celebrating their accomplishments but illustrating the impact of your school's programs, faculty, and resources, which is a powerful tool to attract prospective students and families who share your school's vision and values.
Let's look at some student testimonial samples, as well as some practical tips on how to gather, organize, and share your stories to ensure that your school's brand and community shine brightly.
Sharing student success stories
First off, let's discuss the importance of celebrating your students' accomplishments. When you share their success stories, you:
- Boost student morale and school pride: Acknowledging your students' hard work and success builds a positive school culture, motivates them to excel even further, and instills a sense of pride in your school.
- Strengthen community ties: Sharing these stories helps bring your school community together, creating a sense of belonging among students, families, staff, and alumni.
- Attract prospective students and families: By showcasing your students' achievements, you demonstrate the value and impact of your school's programs and resources. It's the social proof prospective students and families want to see before making a decision.
Within its Admission pages, Notre Dame in Pontiac, Michigan asks its students what the school means to them. It’s a nice roundup of testimonials that highlight what's important to students — a welcoming community, a strong mix of clubs and opportunities, close relationships, and a thriving student life centered around its faith.
Ways to gather testimonials for your school's website
Graduation time is the perfect opportunity to collect and showcase your students' success stories. As the school year comes to a close, graduation serves as a milestone that prompts students to reflect on the experiences that have shaped them.
Filled with nostalgia, graduates are likely to have countless stories of personal growth, memorable moments, proud accomplishments, and even the challenges they've overcome during their time at your school.
But to share success stories, you first need to collect them. Here's how to gather your students' amazing achievements:
- Encourage teachers and staff to submit stories: Make it easy for them to share by providing a user-friendly online form or a dedicated email address. Send regular reminders and consider recognizing the staff members who submit the most stories to motivate participation.
The Blair Academy’s Leadership Stories Project chronicles the inspiring stories of students and faculty alike, but what’s so great is the connection back to Blair’s mission — great leaders are great storytellers. A panel shares the lessons of resilience, courage, and meaningful classroom moments that all tell the story of the Blair experience — well done!
- Engage students and parents: Ask students and their families to share their accomplishments with you directly. Promote the idea through parent-teacher conferences, admission events, and newsletters.
Shalom Christian Academy points its community toward a simple online form to gather testimonials about what folks love about their school. It’s a great strategy to passively collect content and share stories throughout the year.
- Offer incentives like school swag, shoutouts, or a chance to be featured in a school publication or blog post.
- Monitor social media: Track and compile stories found on social media platforms and local news outlets. Develop a process for reaching out to students and families for permission to share their stories, and always credit the original sources.
As the oldest independent all-girls school in New York City, the young women of the Convent of the Sacred Heart have a lot to share. An entire page of testimonials and profiles goes into detail about what Sacred Heart means to each student, from favorite days of the year friendships between classmates to passions and their proudest moments.
10 Questions to ask for student testimonials
When you're interviewing students about their experience, remember to ask open-ended prompts and avoid “yes” or “no” questions.
- What inspired you or your family to choose our school or program?
- Share a specific moment or experience that had a significant impact on your time at our school.
- How have our teachers or staff members supported your personal and academic growth?
- What aspects of our school's culture or values have resonated with you the most?
- How have your experiences at our school prepared you for future academic or career pursuits?
- Describe a challenge you faced during your time at our school and how you overcame it.
- What activities, clubs, or events have you participated in, and how have they enriched your school experience?
- How have you benefited from our school's resources, facilities, or programs?
- What advice would you give to prospective students considering joining our school community?
- In a few words, how would you describe the overall impact our school has had on your life?
Pro Tip: Ask your students to repeat the question in their answer, so you’re able to grab a soundbite with more context.
Organizing Success Stories
Now that you've collected these fantastic stories, it's crucial to organize them effectively:
- Create a centralized database: Use tools like Google Drive, or your school's content management system (CMS) to store and organize your stories in one accessible location.
- Categorize stories: Sort stories by type (e.g., academic, athletic, artistic, community service) and create categories based on specific achievements or milestones. Use tags or labels to facilitate searching and filtering.
- Maintain the database: Assign a team member to manage the database, ensuring it stays up-to-date, organized, and free of duplicate entries. Schedule periodic reviews and cleanups, and make it easy for team members to collaborate.
Pro Tip: If you don’t showcase the entire profile online, you can pick and choose key quotes to use across your website, email campaigns, or social media.
Showcasing Student Testimonials Online
Finally, it's time to share these inspiring stories with your school community and beyond! Here's how to present and display testimonials effectively:
- Use multiple formats: Cater to diverse audiences by employing various storytelling formats, such as written stories with images, videos, podcasts, blogs, or infographics.
Harrow International School Bangkok folds its students’ stories into a homepage panel; a sleek profile with a brief quote. It’s a great way to mix a powerful success story into the larger picture of everything your school offers. Showcasing a student’s experience is also a great strategy to connect with prospective students who may have questions about boarding life and the student community.
- Incorporate stories into your website: Add success stories to multiple sections of your website, aside from your homepage. Consider high-traffic areas like admission and tuition pages, community pages, your school blog, or department pages.
Don’t miss the collection of Chadwick Stories, a group of student experiences that explore life at the Chadwick School. It’s a beautifully diverse presentation of powerful imagery and inspiring stories that all tie back to what Chadwick offers — lessons on the tennis court highlight the athletic program; discoveries in the lab connect its academics; the relationships forged through its outdoor ed program.
- Promote stories on social media: Share stories on your school's social platforms using eye-catching visuals, engaging captions, and relevant hashtags. Encourage students, staff, and families to like, share, and comment on the content, helping it reach a wider audience. Consider creating a unique and branded hashtag for your success stories to make it easier for users to find and engage with them.
— Wtown Ind Schools (@WtownInd) April 12, 2023
Williamstown Independent Schools leverages social media to call out its senior class throughout the year— it’s a great way to celebrate and honor the students, highlighting some of the amazing experiences during their time at the district.
- Feature success stories in email newsletters: Incorporate success stories into regular newsletters sent to parents, alumni, and community members. Use striking visuals and captivating headlines to draw attention, and provide a link to read the full story on your website.
- Create a dedicated success stories hub: Design a dedicated section on your website where visitors can browse through all the success stories you've collected. This hub can be organized by categories and searchable by keywords or tags, making it easy for users to find stories that resonate with them.
- Celebrate successes during school events: Integrate student success stories into school events like awards ceremonies, open houses, and parent-teacher conferences. This helps to reinforce your school's commitment to celebrating achievements and showcases the stories to a broader audience.
Remember, the stories of your student's achievements are the lifeblood of your school's brand, and by showcasing them prominently and effectively, you'll create a compelling narrative that celebrates the incredible people who make up your school community.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.