New School Checklist

Creating a school checklist for prospective parents is helpful but also a little sneaky...

Your school should tick all the boxes of the checklist you create.

One important aspect of the school tour is the information you choose to send home with prospective families. You want to be very deliberate in what you choose to include. You can include all sorts of things---be creative--but this post focuses on one specific idea, a school checklist. Here are some tips to drafting your own.

1. Consider your pros/cons. Think about where you shine but also where you falter and do the same with your competitors.

Example: Public School pros include: really nice facilities (top competitors have converted office buildings and no fields); state-certified teachers (top competitors don't require teacher certification); very little teacher turnover (top competitors pay less so have increased turnover); an active parent-teacher group (top competitors discourage parental involvement except for fundraising); and a place for every learner (top competitors discourage underperforming students from enrolling/remaining).

2. Brainstorm. Come up with a list of items for your checklist and ask new parents at your school for ideas. List all you can think of at this point.

Example: How are test scores; how big are class sizes; is there before and after school care; are there specials such as PE and Art; is there leveled learning; do you provide transportation; and what clubs and activities do you have?

3. Edit. Review and whittle the list down to 15 or so considerations, keeping in mind where your school shines.

4. Draft. See if any items need word-smithing a little to ensure you pass.

Example: Because Public School's test scores aren't phenomenal but they are improving, instead of saying, "What are the school's test scores?" they might say, "Are the school's test scores on the rise?" or "What are the school test score trends in the past three years?" Public School provides orchestra and band, which no competitors do. So rather than asking generally about specials they might say, "Are fine arts programs such as band and strings available?"

5. Don't go Overboard. This list should be helpful. You don't want it so obviously skewed that it seems like you're trying to pull one over on families. You want to build trust.

Example: This isn't a glaringly horrific example but I think it's a little amusing. A local school district provided a checklist to prospective families and one of the questions they suggested asking schools was "Have you ever had any budget issues that caused you to delay paying any employee?" That seemed quite targeted. I mean, I guess you want to enroll at a school that pays its employees on time but...

6. Make it Look Nice. Use a graphic arts program like Canva to jazz it up. Perhaps you can make your criteria look like an actual checklist and then place a box ticked next to each one in a column for your school. Or if that seems to salesy you can also just list the criteria in numbered fashion. Let me know what you come up with!

I hope you come up with a checklist that is helpful to parents; that makes your school shine; and that looks good. It may feel like a small thing but it directly contributes to the overall impression you make on touring families. After you finish work on the tour, you may be thinking of other ways you can help with recruitment. Don't sign up your school to host an event booth just yet. Instead, why not tackle parent testimonials or upgrading your phone message?