- Independent Schools
The start of yield season is a busy frenzy of sending acceptance letters, hosting revisit days, making phone calls to families and penning countless thank-you notes. And while spring break is in your future, you’ve still got work to do.
To help give you some new ideas to make this challenging time of year a bit easier, we spoke with two outstanding members of the Finalsite family: Jennifer Welch, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity and Director of International Student Enrollment at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts, and Annie Morse, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Brooklandville, Maryland.
Check out their four practical tips to increase yield and stay sane:
1. Go Paperless
The old days of paper files meant lots of waiting. With admissions team members filling up manilla folders with forms, letters of recommendation, and notes and then sharing with the next colleague in line for their input, the reading process could be slow.
For Thayer Academy, a switch to Finalsite partner Ravenna’s paperless admissions solutions now means that reading applications and making decisions is more efficient.
“We used to pass applicants’ paper folders back and forth, Jennifer said, “and I’d wait for my colleagues to finish their read before I’d be able to dive in.” And, with 200 interviews a season and a two-reader system, she didn’t have much time to spare. “Now we’re in our first year using Ravenna and we’re getting into the swing of things,” she said. “And it’s definitely helping me stay sane as I don’t have to wait for anyone to read a folder first. I can go online, click on the materials and do my work whether I’m on campus or not.”
And, while Jennifer thinks paperless is the way to go, there’s one piece of paper she can’t part with: the thank-you note. “Showing families some love with thank-you notes is key. We know that families applying are probably looking at half a dozen schools, and we want them to feel like Thayer is the home for them. So I can go into Ravenna, refresh my memory about a family’s interests, and write a note that makes a real connection.”
Using Ravenna and Finalsite together makes the process more efficient as well; prospective families can easily find all the information they need to submit an inquiry through Thayer’s admissions section and then click on a clear call-to-action to go to Ravenna’s admissions portal.
2. Use Your Website Wisely
St. Paul’s School for Girls has a great website. In fact, we reference it frequently as a stand-out design to share a variety of programs, both co-ed and all girls-that range from Pre-K to grade 12. Annie Morse, the school’s Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management and a class of 1995 alumna, shared that their site has been key to guiding prospective families through the admissions funnel.
“We use the website mainly for prospective families, it’s very outwardly focussed,” Annie said. “We made an intentional decision to try to push people to the website because there is so much wonderful content on who we are. During yield season, the website is used a TON for new family information on everything from orientation and upcoming events to how to buy uniforms. It’s great to have a centrally-located space for prospective families!”
The school has a unique method for connecting with families from their first inquiry, too: “We match each prospective family up with a specific admissions advisor from our office of four, which gives them continuity through the process,” Annie said. “That advisor is someone they can reach out to directly, and really personalizes the whole process.”
3. Host An Awesome Revisit Day (or Three!)
With a shorter, two-week window from acceptance to decision, SPSG limits the crazy period to a shorter window. With three set revisit days in two weeks, SPSG invites students back to shadow current students, and also hosts an accepted student celebration on March 1 that brings families back to campus to attend morning assembly, see the community in action and meet department chairs, coaches, the admissions director, and others--all of whom are enthusiastic about admissions.
“Our Head of School has created a culture in which admissions is a school-wide priority,” Annie said, “and that makes it much easier for our small team of four to host these kinds of events where families can talk to the right people directly, and really get a sense of our school and our programs, take another tour, and hear from current students.”
At Thayer Academy, “We want our revisit days to be a slam dunk,” Jennifer said. “We bring families back to campus for our ‘Tiger visits’ where a newly accepted student will shadow a current student with similar interests. Families have the opportunity to take another tour and speak to a teacher or coach, while giving them a peek into the life and times at Thayer Academy. We find that the probability of their choosing Thayer increases significantly after they spend the day for a Tiger visit.”
“It can be a busy time hosting all these events, but at Thayer, our current students and the whole community take pride in getting every detail of those events perfect for our incoming families.”
4. There’s Life Outside the Office?
For Jennifer, life outside the office means travel (she’s been everywhere!). After yield season, she often she takes a two-week trip to clear her head; (this year she’ll head to Australia) “Taking a break refreshes me and gives me something to look forward to!” she said.
On a trip to China to recruit international students, Jennifer found time to enjoy the Great Wall.
And, Jennifer says, don’t forget to stick your head out of your office from time to time! Her own office is right in a busy area on campus, meaning students stop by to say hello or have a chat. “It really reconnects me to what I’m doing to be fully involved in students’ lives,” she says. “I even find time to attend a fifth grade gym glass now and then to get some exercise and have some fun!"
“Yield season is a marathon, not a sprint,” Annie shared. “Take it one day at a time, because there is so much going on during this two-week period! I remember what a wonderful process this is -- you get to know the families and the girls through the process in that couple months. You want to see them and be the school that they choose.”
A successful yield season means it's an all-hands-on deck time. Getting support from colleagues, considering a paperless tool, using your website efficiently, and even taking some time out of the office will make all the difference. Good luck during this exciting time of year!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hadley is Finalsite's Director of Communications and is a former independent school teacher, fundraiser and marketing director with a passion for cooking, travel, and spending time outdoors with her growing family. She founded the FinalsiteFM podcast network and enjoys meeting Finalsite clients from around the world.
- Inbound Marketing