Why is the Great Hearts school network so popular?

The Great Hearts school network is extraordinarily popular.
How did they become the largest network of classical schools in the country?

  • 22,000 students (up from 7,000 in 2013)
  • 52% Classroom Instruction as a % of Total Expenditures
  • 37 schools
  • 2 states (Texas and Arizona)

Short answer: Great Hearts is constantly listening and CONSTANTLY adapting to their parents' needs. They have built a unique value proposition as a function of constant feedback from families.

It's highly likely that at some point in the future, what made your school attractive in the past will stop being a differentiator.

The world changes, the competition evolves, technology enables new educational capabilities, options splinter, and proliferate. Your best-fit families change, new families will appear in the neighborhood, the old ones fade. The age of sustainable competitive advantage for schools is over; it's all transient.

How has the Great Hearts value proposition evolved?
These are their key unique educational features:

  1. Emphasis on a robust liberal arts curriculum and character education.
  2. Teaching Latin, Ancient Greek, Advanced Mathematics and Science, and the Great Books (i.e. Iliad, Odyssey, Shakespeare, The Declaration of Ind., The Constitution, Federalist papers, Famous SCOTUS cases)
  3. Taking their school online and exploring microschools to complement their online program.
  4. An intense focus on convenience for parents: On the landing webpage, parents can find their nearest academy, book a tour, and register in under 3 minutes.
  5. Thorough & meticulous admissions interviewing:
    They do EVERYTHING they can to learn and understand their prospective parents.
    Clarifying questions help them identify parents' core pain points.
    They LISTEN intensely and take notes (we mystery-shopped 4 of their schools).
    Questions include:
    - Why did the parent reach out?
    - What is their student's situation?
    - What is their schooling history?
    - What is the main goal for their child?
    - What's their biggest parenting problem?
    - Is Great Hearts the first school they've reached out to?
    - What have they tried to improve in their child's education?
    - Has anything worked?
    - How long did they try that for?

Great Hearts has a strong opinion (Classical Education), loosely held.
This means that they have a strong core thesis about how education should be.
But they also are ruthlessly open to parents' needs and feedback.
They combine their unwavering commitment to Classical Education with tactical improvements received from parents' feedback. This process gives them a powerful strategic moat that no other school network can copy.

A deep understanding of your prospective parents is more valuable than ever.
Most schools stop at demographics.
Going deeper and getting to know them inside out can be a superpower for your school.
Try to find out:

  • what apps do they have on their phone
  • what do they consume daily
  • where do they get their updates
  • what else is in their routine

If you listen to them intensely, you can proactively adapt your programs to their evolving needs.