Skip To Main Content
Tips for Increasing New Student Engagement
Connor Gleason

Your job doesn't stop when a prospective student fills out an application, unfortunately. Even after students have submitted their applications, there's still the chance you won't fill every last seat. Chances are, you're not the only school to which they've applied and been accepted, and you need to be ready to influence their decision at every step.

As they shuffle through acceptance letters and emails, they're coming to your website and your social pages with one purpose in mind: finalizing their decision. Furthermore, you still need to keep engaging those students who have accepted your offer of admission.

What's that mean for you? It's time to get creative, personal, and kick your new student retention ideas up a notch. Take note from these schools that have increased student engagement in a way that we think will seal the deal.

Creative ideas to engage new students

Schools have exciting tools to engage students even before the school year starts. Call it a "post-enrollment community engagement strategy," these ideas help schools keep their new students and their families connected and engaged from the moment they've been accepted.

Focusing on four key ideas and strategies can make this time more welcoming.

  1. New student admissions email workflow
  2. Portals and pages for newly accepted families
  3. New student retention communications strategy
  4. Engage new students through social media

Here's how these elements work together to build a strong community engagement strategy:

1. New Student Admissions Email Workflow

Setting up an automated email workflow for new students can help keep them and their families informed, welcomed, and excited about the upcoming school year.

After a student is accepted, send them a series of welcome emails, with the first email being a warm welcome message from the head of school or enrollment director. The next could introduce them to the most popular places on campus, and another could give them a checklist of things to do before school starts.

Example Workflow:

  • Welcome Email: Once a student is admitted, send a greeting from the school's principal or head, introducing them to the school community.
  • Information Series: Follow up with a series of emails that provide important information step-by-step. This can include details on how to use the school portal, dates for orientation sessions, uniform purchasing information, and a checklist of required documents.
  • Engagement Opportunities: Include invitations to upcoming school events, links to join school social media groups, and opportunities to meet teachers and current students virtually.

2. New Student Resource Portal on the School Website

Create a portal or special section on your website just for new students, a one-stop shop for all the resources and information new families need, making the transition to your school as smooth as possible.

This page could have everything a new student needs to know, all in one place, like a welcome video, a calendar of important dates (like when to enroll in after-school clubs or activities or when welcome events are happening), links to social media pages, and FAQs, just like Cathedral High School.

You can even add interactive elements, like a virtual tour of the campus so new students can find all the information they need to start their journey at your school feeling excited and confident.

These digital strategies work toward building a community and making new students feel welcome and part of the school before they even step foot on campus.

Portals and websites for accepted students are great options for engagement because they provide students:

  • Personalized Access: Each family gets access to a secure portal on the school's website where they can find all the information specific to new students.
  • Resources and Forms: The portal includes forms, school handbooks, orientation schedules, and a calendar of important school dates.
  • Continuous Updates: Regular updates about school news, events, and any policies or schedules to keep families informed.

Suffield Academy uses many of these strategies for its accepted students page, a wonderful collection of resources to celebrate and inform new students and families as they become familiar with their new community. 

3. New Student Retention Communications Strategy

You've got students' attention, so now's the time to build a strong, interactive school community that engages students and families through consistent and meaningful communication.

Open communication, community building, and a smooth transition for new members are important parts of any school's student retention strategy.

How It Works:

  • Regular Updates: Use a mobile app or mass notification system to send updates and reminders about school events, deadlines, and news.
  • Event Invitations: Send invites to school events designed to welcome new families, such as picnics, meet-and-greets, and Q&A sessions with school leadership.
  • Spotlights and Stories: Share stories and spotlights on current students, alumni, and teachers to give new families a sense of your school's community spirit and achievements.

To increase their engagement and improve student retention, remember to:

Create a Personalized Experience

Provide accepted students with a password-protected portal that's just for them. Safe, secure, and branded with your school's color and logos, portals provide accepted students with a place to meet one another, start online discussions, download forms, access directory information, and more. 

With a list of important dates, online enrollment, and news, Garrison Forrest sets the bar high for the accepted student experience.

The portal is packed with content aimed at finalizing students' decisions, including recent news, admissions videos, links to student testimonials, and "a day in the life" schedules, as well as some additional fun photos and videos.

Make it Heartwarming with a Video

Academy of the Holy Cross takes a personal approach to officially welcoming the incoming class in this upbeat video. It features an array of students and faculty saying "Welcome" and "Congratulations" in various fun ways.

Helpful Reminders

Once students are enrolled, keeping them happy and connected is key to making sure they actually stay enrolled.

Schools can set up reminders about important dates, like enrollment or deposit, deadlines, when orientation sessions are happening, or when to pick up books. Send them by email, social media, or text, and don't forget to update the website.

Engage New Students Through Social Media

Schools can make the most out of social media to connect with both new and current students. Here's how they can use different social media tricks to keep everyone engaged and excited about school life:


Schools can create special hashtags for new students on social media platforms like Instagram, X (Twitter), and Facebook. For example, #NewEagles2028 or #WelcomeWildcats. These hashtags can be used to share news or welcome messages, and they also give new students a way to share their own photos and thoughts.

Q&A Sessions

Schools can set up Q&As sessions, where students, both prospective and current, can ask anything they want to know about the school. These sessions can be hosted by school staff, current students, or even alumni who can share their experiences.

It's a great way for students to get quick answers to their questions and feel more connected to the school. For example, a school might use Instagram Stories to post answers to questions that students send in through direct messages.

Live Events

Schools can use social media to stream school events, such as sports games, school plays, or graduation ceremonies, so students who can't be there in person don't miss out. They can also host live tours of the school for new students, showing off different parts of the campus and what a day at the school looks like to make everyone feel like they're part of the action, even from far away.

Student Takeovers

This is when a school lets a student take control of their social media account for a day. That student can share what a typical day looks like for them, from going to class, eating in the dining hall, or participating in after-school activities.

Just like Loomis Chaffee did, takeovers give a real, student-eye view of what it's like to attend that school and student interests. It's a fun way for prospective students to see the school from a current student's perspective.

How-To Videos

Schools can use social media to share how-to videos for both new and current students. These could be about how to use the school's dorm life, tips for studying, or even how to get involved in school clubs and activities. It's a helpful way for students to learn new things and feel supported by their school.

Key Takeaway

When prospective students visit your website or social media, they're looking to make their final school choice. This spring, your task is to stay influential in the decision-making process and continue to engage students to secure their commitment and welcome them to campus next fall.

The Ultimate School Website 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.

Log in to post a comment:

Explore More Recent Blogs

Subscribe to the Finalsite Blog

Love what you're reading? Join the 10k school marketers who get the newest best practices delivered to their inbox each week.

Request a FREE
website report card

Want feedback on your school or district's site? Get a free website report card, generated by an in-house website expert, sent right to your inbox.