The Ideal Campus Visit

Sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. 

Most prospective parents looking at your school are also touring a couple of other schools in your community. While you certainly want to sell your total school experience, including the academic program, community environment, athletics and the arts, it might be the little things that stand out.

Recently, I took a tour of the Canterbury School of Florida. During my tour on the lower school campus, we stopped in every classroom from the four year olds to the fourth graders. In every class a student came up to me and personally welcomed me to their class. I had never experienced this before at another school. The student reached out their hand, told me their name, and welcomed me to Canterbury. Wow, I was impressed and if I was looking for a school, I would have been sold! 

What if your campus visit stood apart from the other schools in your community?

This started my thinking about what an ideal campus visit might look like in a private school. Let me give you a vision for this ideal campus visit. 

The parent calls the admissions office to set up their campus visit. The receptionist is friendly and works to accommodate the parent’s schedule. After the visit has been scheduled, the receptionist sends a reminder email to the parent.

On the day of the scheduled visit, the parent drives to your campus and readily sees your school sign. This parent is immediately impressed that they have arrived at your school. Then, the parent pulls into campus and sees banners hanging from the light posts and follows the drive to the parking lot. The directional sign is clear and easy to follow and leads the parent to the reserved visitor spaces. What stands out though is the reserved space that has the parent and student’s name on it.  

From there the parent walks toward the clearly identified main office which also includes a sign for the admissions office. The parent knows they have arrived when they see the personalized admissions welcome sign with their name on it. Impressed with this level of personalization, the parent and student walk inside the waiting area. Once inside, they are warmly greeted by the receptionist with an “I’ve been expecting you attitude.” The receptionist greets them by name and welcomes them to campus while choosing not to answer the incoming phone call because the most important person is standing in the office.

A cup of Starbucks coffee, bottle of juice or water is offered to the guests. Pre-printed name tags with the first name of the parent and student are given to them to wear. The prospective parent and student immediately feel welcomed at the school.  

While waiting for the admissions director, they complete a information form and relax on the leather couch. The information that was already given on the phone is pre-printed, allowing the parent to focus on some select key questions that will better inform the admissions director. On the wall is a large flat screen TV with scrolling pictures, key stats and key messages about the school. Yearbooks and brochures are on the coffee table to view.

The admissions director then enters the room and greets the parent and student. At the same time, one of the parent ambassadors arrives to go on the tour with them. From there they begin to tour the campus. While touring the campus, several teachers and staff stop and greet the visitors. They actually knew in advance that they were coming to visit since the admissions director had sent all faculty and staff a message about this important tour (actually every tour is important at this school). 

While on the tour, the student and parent are greeted by several students. They stop and say things like, “This is the best school ever” and “I hope you are in my class when you come to my school.” (Well, maybe not exactly, but you get the idea!)

Towards the end of the tour, the admissions director stops by the Head of School’s office. Even though she was in a meeting with two board members, she steps out of her office to welcome the visitor to campus. The head of school gives the parent a school-branded coffee mug and invites the parent to come back to attend one of the upcoming coffee meetings. The student is given a T-shirt that is cool to wear and a “free pass” to an upcoming basketball game. 

At the conclusion of the tour, the parent and student sit down in the admissions director’s office to review the application process and to answer any additional questions.

Then, the admissions director walks the visitors out of the office thanking them for coming to campus and asks the student to stand next to the welcome sign. The director takes a digital photo of the student by his name as a memory of his visit.  

Once the visitor has left campus, the admissions director prints the photo of the student by the sign and sends it with a hand-written, thank-you note. The head of school also sends a personal, handwritten note to the parent and student thanking them for visiting campus.

The parent and student leave raving about the school and the way that they were treated. In comparison to the other schools in their community, this visit stands out and makes a difference in their decision. 

Think about your campus visit for prospective parents and students.

What are you currently doing to make your campus visit stand out?

Are you close to the ideal or do you need to make some improvements?