From the Dentist’s Office to Campus Visits: Lessons in First Impressions and Engagement

As a seasonal resident of northern Michigan—my escape from Florida’s summer heat—I recently found myself navigating a new challenge: selecting a dentist. Though far removed from admissions and marketing at a private school, this experience offered pivotal insights into enhancing campus visits.

I often look for parallel examples from real-world experiences related to my advice I can share with school leaders.

Here’s how my observations can be translated into actionable improvements in your school’s admissions and enrollment strategy.

1—Influence of Online Reviews

My wife chose this dentist based on glowing online reviews. This highlights the power of positive reinforcement accessible to anyone researching options—including private, independent, and faith-based schools. If a prospective parent finds overwhelmingly positive reviews about your school’s programs or campus atmosphere, it significantly boosts their likelihood of scheduling a visit.

2—The Power of First Impressions

Kelly, the receptionist at the dentist’s office, personalized my scheduling experience, showing how crucial first contacts are. She was friendly and personable and worked to schedule my appointment when it could work for me. Similarly, the person arranging your school’s campus tours should provide a stellar first impression that speaks volumes about your institution’s commitment to excellence.

3—Streamlined Communications

Timely text reminders from the dentist kept me engaged and well-informed about my upcoming appointment. The texts were easily seen instead of being buried in my email inbox. Adapting this approach, does your school leverage quick, effective communication tools like text messages to keep potential prospective parents informed and interested? Are you utilizing text messages to remind parents of their scheduled campus visit?

4—Create a Welcoming Environment

The warm greeting and comfortable waiting area at the dentist’s office made all the difference. I was offered a cup of coffee or a bottle of water while I waited. Reflect on the reception prospective families receive when they visit your school. Small details like a friendly welcome and a pleasant waiting space can enhance the parent’s experience significantly.

5—Personalization is Key

The focused and friendly consultation at the dentist’s office is what I experienced. While most people dread a visit to the dentist, this one was as pleasant as possible. Your campus visit experience should mirror this personalized approach. This visit should begin with a conversation to get to know the parent and their child’s needs.  It’s essential to tailor each visit to align with the needs and interests of prospective students and their families, ensuring they receive a personal, engaging tour.

6—Memorable Branded Gifts

Leaving the dentist with a branded pen and a follow-up appointment made a lasting impression. Similarly, conclude your school’s campus tour with a unique gift that keeps your school at the forefront of parents’ minds and clearly outline the subsequent steps in the admissions process. The goal of the campus visit is for the parent to apply.

This experience with my dentist not only met my expectations but provided me with excellent service touchpoints that are readily applicable in the context of private school admissions. These lessons, when adapted for a school setting, have the potential to transform your campus visit program into a more effective tool for increasing student enrollment.

Consider integrating these strategies to ensure your campus stands out, compelling prospective parents to move from visitors to enrolled families in your school community. To dive deeper, read a related blog post: Transform Your School’s Campus Visit from Routine to Remarkable.