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Streamlining Enrollment and Admissions

Best Practices

2/25/2022 | Emily Jaeger

Prospective families are the shadow secondary childcare center you probably didn’t realize you would be running: Enrollment n’ Admissions Academy. Scheduling virtual or in-person tours, keeping track of records, maintaining contact with prospective families, and finally figuring out how to divvy up your incoming classes represents a huge amount of labor. And for most of it, you haven’t even received that first tuition check! 

From the family’s perspective, the admission process is the first impression they will have of your organization. You’re supposed to be wooing them, giving them a taste of how awesome your next few years together will be. The best strategic enrollment management leads to increased enrollment. Poor communication, disorganization, and any other hiccups during admissions and enrollment can be a turnoff for families and translate into a loss of clients. 

Identifying the Problem

The first step to improving your enrollment and admissions process is to identify the problem(s). What is your biggest time suck? What is falling through the cracks? Where do you sense the most frustration? 

Sometimes, the best way to determine what is going wrong with your admissions and enrollment process is to conduct an audit of your current system. Consider auditing how long it takes you to fully admit and enroll one new classroom with your current system. Or just one new family. 

Without the right tools to streamline admissions and enrollment into one workflow, you and your staff may be required to manually manage admission tasks across multiple systems. To enroll just one family, you may be responding to and keeping track of individual emails for queries, visits, and applications, while at the same time gathering virtual or hardcopy records of student information. And there are no guarantees that families will submit anything logically or efficiently. You then have to manually synthesize all this data when you decide on classroom placement. Not to mention the mountains of additional communications behind enrollment changes or waitlists.

Even the least organized parents and guardians are judging your admissions process every step of the way. Every family has a lot on their plate--they need to be able to book tours, complete applications, and access information quickly and when it’s convenient for them. Frustration is an easy reason to abandon a ship. With an abundance of childcare options, why stick around and riddle through an annoying experience that only seems like a prophecy of things to come?

Prioritize 

To keep things from getting overwhelming, it is important to prioritize what you want to improve in your current admissions and enrollment system. For each business, these answers might be slightly different, but you will probably be able to recognize where you feel the most pain--missed queries, frustrated parents, dropped clients, messy records, etc. 

Choosing which parts of the admissions and enrollment process you want to change first will help guide you towards the best solution. For example, if you notice that finding a time for the Smithingtons to visit your facility has resulted in an email chain that’s mounting into the double digits, you might want to consider a provider that will allow families to book tours independently.

How to Evaluate a Provider

With the variety of solutions available, you need clear guidelines for assessing the best providers and making sure that they demonstrate measurable results. The last thing you need is to replace one faulty system with another! Some important questions to consider when choosing a provider are: 

  1. Is every part of admissions and enrollment available in one application? 
  2. Are you only billed for the application features that you are using? 
  3. Can staff and families access the application and admissions records from anywhere?
  4. Can parents independently book tours, complete student applications, and pay tuition fees within the same system?  
  5. Can staff easily contact families with enrollment updates and automatically transfer communications with families, applications, and student records to the student profile? 
  6. Can staff view placement availability and create admissions reports within one tool? 
  7. How will you measure the results of implementing this new tool? 

How Playground Can Help 

Experience seamless admission and enrollment process from query to first tuition payment with Playground’s enrollment feature. No more shuffling between spreadsheets and technologies. No more data entry. No more missed emails. Playground combines separate, manual processes into one simple workflow: where applications, booking facility tours, record keeping, placement, and communications with families all arrive and are stored in one place. After enrollment, all the data automatically remains with the student through their Playground profile. Turn queries into conversions by eliminating frustration for new families and allowing them to tailor the admission process to their busy schedules.

Emily Jaeger is a professional writer with a background in education (she's taught every age group from preschool to retirement). Her writing has been featured on Parents Magazine, Kveller, Motherfigure and more. You can connect with Emily via her website emilyjaeger.com, or on instagram @soulinparaphrase. 

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