How To Increase Enrollment In Schools

With thousands of private schools in Kenya for families to choose from, it becomes a struggle for schools to continue increasing student enrollment. Parents are spoilt for choice. Parents of today are tech-savvy and will make their choices based on research that they have done.

Focusing on increasing enrollment requires a fully coordinated effort and embracing new approaches to new trends that have emerged in the market. New schools are emerging every year, resulting in competition from schools to have parents pick them as their best choice.

During my time in primary school, we really had no choice but to enroll in the nearest government school because we had to walk to school - not like today where it's a "crime" for private schools not to offer paid transport.

Let's therefore have a look at emerging trends that your school should be using in your day to day activities.

1. Personalized Communication

The landscape for communication has changed and what was working ten years ago may be obsolete or of little value right now. Parent-school personalized communication means that the school transmits information to individual parents in a way that makes the parent feel like the information is meant for him/her, and not a random piece of information that has been sent to everyone.

The manner in which schools communicate and interact with parents affects the extent and quality of parents home involvement with their children's learning. Parents are pretty smart at judging the intent behind the messages sent their way. With so much noise, they look for something that is personal to them and can add value to their lives.

From my experience as a parent, many schools will mostly communicate with the parents when:-

(a) Informing the parents to clear the school fees balance or the student will not be allowed in class

(b) Informing the parents of upcoming school event(s) or calendar of events

(c) Informing the parents to purchase certain items

(d) Informing the parents on disciplinary action that will be meted out as punishment to the student.

I don't dispute the fact that such information should be conveyed to the parents, my worry is the harshness that is portrayed in some of these messages. It is important to consider your tone of communication as you convey your messages.

Strategies you can implement when personalizing your communication

  • Sending an email or SMS to a parent on his/her child's birthday, wishing the child a happy birthday on behalf of the school, and appreciating the parent for raising an upstanding child.

  • Writing blogs or articles on your website (assuming that you have one) on topics that will benefit the parents e.g, importance of parent-child communication, forms of punishment, depression in children etc. These can be periodically emailed to the parents.

  • Teachers to ensure that by a certain period of time they have called every parent in their class just to say hello and to wish them well.

  • Constant communication with the parents while at the same time being careful not to sound bothersome.

It is a proven fact that personalization will improve parent satisfaction and loyalty to the school, increasing your enrollment through positive word-of-mouth.

2. Digital Technology

It is quite unfortunate for a school not to have a website in 2021. If you do, then kudos! You are on the right path. If you don't, I am here to inform you that according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), it was estimated in 2019 that the number of internet users in Kenya to be over 40 million people.

Parents will research every school online before they consider sending their child to it – especially for a private school. Having an organized, modern, and easy to navigate website can be the deciding factor for parents when choosing a school. Your school website should communicate the educational benefits that students enjoy.

It is not only important to have a website, it is equally paramount for your website to contain the following characteristics.

- Easy to navigate

- Clear photos

- Registration forms

- Calendar of events

- Mobile friendly

- Blog section - like what I mentioned in the previous section

3. Social Media Presence

I cannot over emphasize the importance of schools being active on social media. Stay active on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Create stories on social media that will elicit engagement and interaction from your current and prospective parents.

Sponsored posts on Facebook and Google ads will enable you to show your ads to a targeted audience. The good news is you are able to set and control your Facebook ad budget in your advertising.

Many Kenyans break up their work day by glancing at their phones for some social media time, giving your school ads access to your mobile audience. Facebook users check their news feed multiple times per day, giving your preferred audience repeated exposure to your ads.

Benefits of schools being on social media

(A) You can brag about the benefits of your school

(B) Show your unique selling position

(C) Engage with the current and prospective parents

(D) Answer pressing questions that people may have

(E) Get feedback

(F) Gather information about other schools (competitive analysis)

Never forget that your tech-savvy customers who are parents are on social media channels. Hootsuite, a social media management platform, produced a report based on their research findings, stating that by first quarter of 2019 there were over 8 million active social media users in Kenya. For sure that figure has increased tremendously.

4. Empower teachers and other staff members

Teachers and other staff members of the school can be trained and motivated to be the "face" of the school. An empowered teacher will always speak the benefits of the school to people, and in the process convert these people to customers.

Empowered and motivated teachers & staff members will refer friends, post good things on social media and have good and meaningful relationships with students and their parents. They will represent the school positively in a multitude of settings.

This positive spirit will trickle down to the students who will in turn talk positively about the school to their peers and relatives. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of recommendation. Even academic research into word-of-mouth has proven its effectiveness in conversion - which herein is enrollment.

5. School Social Responsibility (SSR)

This is a positive influence that education institutions make to the society and the environment through its operations and activities. This is a concept whereby education institutions integrate social and environmental concerns in their normal operations on a voluntary basis.

Examples of SSR activities that schools can incorporate into their programs are:-

- Surrounding estate clean-ups

- Tree or flower planting

- Donations of food and clothing to the less fortunate

- Donating Covid-19 face masks to the underprivileged communities around

Benefits of SSR

1. Students improve their learning performance through exposure to environmental issues, enhancement in social skills such as leadership and teamwork. This means creating inclusive school and classroom settings that promote academic achievement and reducing the rates of transfers.

2. It brings about positive school image and the impact can be seen through various phenomena such as positive parent attitude (both current and prospective), positive student attitude, positive word of mouth, etc. This in turn increases school enrollment rates.

3. This encourages parent satisfaction with the school leading to repeat enrollment - if they have other school going children, enrollment in other branches of the school- if the school has other branches in other regions, and favorable word-of-mouth publicity.

4. Being a responsible, sustainable school may make it easier to recruit new employees & teachers, or retain existing ones. They may be motivated to stay longer, thus reducing the costs and disruption of recruitment and training. Isn't saving costs one of your business agendas?


Building the brand of your school takes a lot of time and effort, but it is an effective approach to increase enrollment. Be consistent, be honest and be trustworthy.

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