Later this morning, I will present the idea of Continuous Enrollment to our Administrative team. As a team, we’ll consider whether or not our school should shift away from the traditional “re-enrollment every February” model to a collegiate-like “set it and forget it” continuous enrollment model.
This presentation could not come at a better time. Our admission office staff just spent the better part of three weeks chasing down re-enrollment contracts and deposits from our current families. Well, not all of our current families. Frankly, only a small fraction of our current families require chasing. And they happen to be the same families every year.
While chasing these re-enrollment contracts each February and March is entertaining on some levels – we’ve considered about offering prizes for the most creative excuses for being late with contracts and deposits – the time spent chasing our current families is time NOT being spent offering excellent customer service to our new applicants.
Moving to a continuous enrollment model, then, will be worth it if it allows us to re-focus our team’s attention and energy on attracting and serving new applicants and their families more effectively.
Other compelling reasons for considering this shift to continuous enrollment relate to attrition. First of all, our school is currently enjoying the good fortune of solid retention trends. So if only 4% or 5% of our students are choosing not to re-enroll in any given year – why are we spending so much time managing re-enrollment? After all, 96% of our students are simply saying “I’m coming back.” That feels like an inefficient use of staff time and resources.
And, from a strategic marketing perspective, it seems odd that we ask parents to re-decide what school they want their children to attend each year. My college never did that. Once I entered as a freshman, I never had to re-enroll. As long as I was in good standing as a student, the tuition bills would start up again each summer. Moving to a continuous enrollment model will encourage our families to sign on “through graduation” rather than asking them to pause every spring to consider other school options.
So, where do we start? How do we decide if continuous enrollment is right for our school? And if it is, how do we get the wheels turning to make it happen?
AISAP and other independent school associations can help. Last Spring, a group of admission professionals met in Charleston, SC as part of AISAP’s Bright Ideas program. At that meeting, we heard from the Admission folks at other schools who have already implemented Continuous Enrollment – and form some who have started down the CE path. Bright Ideas Sessions are scheduled for this April and May in South Carolina, California, and Louisiana.
Also, independent school admission guru, Larry Jensen, presented a session on Continuous Enrollment at last year’s AISAP Annual Institute – and he is planning to present on that topic again this summer in San Juan Capistrano. There is also a current strand related to continuous enrollment posted at the AISAP Exchange.
Beyond these resources, I’ve compiled a list of links to webinars on continuous enrollment presented by AISAP, NBOA, ISM, and the Enrollment Management Association:
Also, Rick Newberry at Enrollment Catalyst has posted on continuous enrollment a couple times on his blog:
So, depending on how my presentation goes this morning, our school might be headed toward adopting a continuous enrollment model. If we do, we’ll share updates along the way. If you are already offering continuous enrollment at your school – or planning to – let us know. We’d love to hear how it’s going
Director of Admission and Financial Aid
5801 Poplar Tent Rd
Concord, NC 28027
Work: (704) 721-7164