Enrollment Growth at Lakeland Christian School in 2012-13

Over the past decade, enrollment growth at Lakeland Christian School (LCS) had surged to 1,110 students, while an eye-opening $23 million had been dedicated to facility expansion.

As with many private schools across the United States, however, LCS’s steady growth proved no match for the rapidly decelerating economy. In 2011-12, LCS’s enrollment had declined to 985 students from a high of 1,110.

LCS administration noticed the red flags, and, in November 2011, brought Enrollment Catalyst consultant Dr. Rick Newberry on board to assess the school’s enrollment growth and marketing efforts and to develop a strategic plan to grow the school.

Newberry conducted extensive research, including several focus groups and a parent satisfaction survey, which in turn resulted in a road map for LCS’s long-term enrollment growth goals.

The plan was clear: establish an enrollment department and implement specific web-based and word-of-mouth marketing strategies to tell the story of the school. Newberry and LCS school leaders went to work on several enrollment growth strategies. Over the past year, the school has spent time and resources on several key activities:

  • Developing an enrollment office that includes the admissions and retention efforts and creates a seamless intake process from inquiry to enrolled student.
  • Building a year-round “enrollment growth culture” among current LCS families by educating them about the value of their efforts and the important role they play in marketing the school within the community.
  • Improving Web marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization, Google AdWords campaigns, Facebook use and more.
  • Equipping current school families with marketing tools, like the Welcome Wednesday promotional materials (see previous blog article).
  • Continuing to educate and encourage current families in the practice of “story-telling” – sharing what they love about LCS with others.
  • Caring for newly enrolled families and helping them assimilate into our school community through contact with Parent Ambassadors.

The results of this effort have been more than just encouraging. They’ve been valuable and meaningful:

  • Total enrollment increased to 1,015 students from 985 the previous year—a 3% increase
  • New student enrollment increased by 20%.
  • Retention increased to 91%.

“We had experienced some decline and flat enrollment and recognized that we needed to make some changes to turn it around rather than just complain about the economy,” said LCS Headmaster Dr. Mike Sligh. “Rick Newberry presented us with a professional proposal and a solid track record of results. His expertise in marketing research, publications, and public relations strongly complements his enrollment building counsel. Rick coached us through the re-organization of our enrollment office and refining of our admissions procedures enabling us to serve our people more effectively. His expert advice for our staff strengthened their confidence and facilitated an improved effort in every area of admissions.”

To find out how Enrollment Catalyst can help your school extend its reach, grow enrollment and recommit your current parent base, contact Rick Newberry.

About Enrollment Catalyst and Rick Newberry

Enrollment Catalyst partners with schools across the United States and Canada to provide coaching and consulting in enrollment management and marketing systems, strategies and solutions. The program is designed to provide school leaders with effective marketing and enrollment growth strategies as well as staff accountability, direction and results needed to grow enrollment.

Enrollment Catalyst President and Consultant Dr. Rick Newberry has nearly 25 years of educational leadership experience in both higher education and K-12 levels, and has served as the executive director of development and enrollment management at a private university, as well as head of a large private school.