Putting Research into Practice to Improve the School Visit

Putting Research into Practice to Improve the School Visit

From The Yield, Spring 2015

Our admission office was having tough discussions, challenging our current practices, when the The Enrollment Management Association research report The Ride to Independent Schools landed in our mailboxes. For our campus, the most salient takeaways were:

• Families want to learn about the quality of education and individualization of your programming.
• Families want a personalized tour experience.
• Families want to learn about the academic program from faculty and students.
• The school tour is very important in school selection.
• Families want to interact with current students.

Armed with these data, we made four adjustments to our tours which have resulted in positive responses from our prospective families:

We prioritized having prospective families meet with the Head of School.

When a family visits Orme, we now schedule time for the members to meet with our head of school. In this 45-minute meeting, our head shares with the family our goals, strategic plan, and objectives.

We reinvigorated the student “Key Society” tour guide training.

Armed with suggestions from other programs (thank you to everyone in the The Enrollment Management Association Independent School Admission Professionals group on LinkedIn!), we retrained our “Key Society” members as tour guides. This training included: tour guide expectations, school history, mission, and vision, the tour route, and frequently asked and tough questions. We now have a group of students who are knowledgeable and excited about meeting new students when they visit campus.

We schedule tours so that families can join us for lunch.

Lunch is an all-community event at Orme. Founders Hall is full of students and faculty, and also most members of our community including facility and support staff, and we frequently eat food grown on campus. We invite 4-6 current students who share a characteristic with the prospective student—academic interest, hobby, home state, etc.—to dine with the visiting family.

These lunches have been instrumental in ensuring that families get an authentic feel for our campus community. A visiting father recently remarked, “I loved sitting with students at lunch. I felt like they honestly answered my questions, and I have a better understanding of the student culture at Orme.”

We ensure each student has a “Wow” moment on his/her tour.

This is the most fun part of tour planning. Based on the interests of the family when they tour, we work with our campus community to schedule an event that is uniquely Orme. These events have included making a nail in the blacksmith shop, helping with harvesting in the garden, and putting a student with no riding experience on a horse.

Admission colleagues, I hope you take time to read the report and evaluate your practices based on the research conducted by The Enrollment Management Association. I’d love to hear about the changes you make in the LinkedIn group. And please come visit us on the ranch!



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