Over hundreds of interactions I've had with some of our nation's best schools, I've found that one of the most persistent challenges faced by school leaders is determining how best to grow their enrollment. The quest for growth is never-ending.
This is because every school faces the same pressures - to keep the lights on, pay its teachers, deliver an excellent education, and support its students and their families all year long. There is no way to reduce those pressures and keep the school going without enrollment growth.
Finding ways to grow can become all-consuming.
Every school has room for improvement, but not every school leader knows where to look for that improvement or how to course-correct and rally the school to change when times get tough.
There are five different ways to think about school growth:
- Student Success: Retain more students and extend your school's advocacy and word-of-mouth through better academic outcomes.
- Parent Base Penetration: Get more enrollments from your existing parent target group by streamlining your enrollment marketing efforts.
- Market Acceleration: Expand into new target family audiences with your current curriculum by marketing to different family demographics.
- Curriculum Diversification: Expand your program offering to existing and new prospective families.
- Partnership: Leverage third-party alliances, channels, and ecosystems. An example could be a partnership between a brick & mortar middle school and an online curriculum provider to cofound an online school (targeting families considering homeschooling).
While reading these, you might be getting consumed by a feeling of dread and powerlessness.
Out of the five key paths to school growth, you might feel that, at most, a couple are within your circle of control.
According to conventional wisdom, the first thing every school leader must do to bring about growth and improvement is to create a strategic plan — a static document that describes the size of the change, the problem to be solved, and the solution that the new venture will provide.
Typically, it includes an analysis of your current state, a well-defined future state and an exhaustive list of strategies, milestones, and actions needed to get there.
In this sense, a strategic plan is an incredibly complex, resource-heavy research exercise written in isolation before one begins to make change happen. The assumption is that it’s possible to figure out most of the unknowns of a school's growth plan in advance - before you carve out the required budget and actually execute the improvement actions.
From this perspective, tackling any of the above 'Paths to School Growth' becomes impossible and hopeless. Where will you find the time, the resources and the collective energy to drive growth?
By shifting to a kaizen mindset, you can 10X your growth initiatives without impacting your academic objectives. How?
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