What are the first three qualities that come to students’ minds when they are asked about your school? How about the faculty? The community? The alumni? Are all the qualities similar? The answers to these questions make up your school’s brand, which is a vital part of attracting and retaining students.
Students and families are increasingly aware of how education impacts the rest of their lives. The pay gap between college graduates and high school graduates is growing. Student loan debt has reached $1.3 trillion, adding pressure to get a good job after college. Generation Z’s view of education reflects their growing concern over seeing a tangible value in their education. They don’t want to end up like their millennial counterparts — highly educated but lacking viable employment options. They need to know attending school will have the desired effect of receiving a better job. This search for future security makes students more aware of their school’s brand than before. Add this to decreasing enrollment numbers and schools must be prepared to show students why they are the best choice for them.
Families and students look at what they are learning and how it will increase their chances for a better life. Whether your school offers rigorous academics, technological advancement through coding, computer science or AI, diversity or a commitment to community service, the areas where you shine should be highlighted by your brand.
Forward-thinking schools have embraced technology, and students reap the benefits. The Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart has a student-run help desk that teaches students real-life practical skills and increases their critical thinking, communication skills, confidence and self-assurance. Communication analysis, critical thinking and decision making are the top qualities employers look for when hiring recent graduates. They prepare students not only for college but also supply them with experiences they use the rest of their lives.
What are students looking for in a school brand?
One of the functions of your brand is to attract students who will fit into your school community. Consider the areas that are most important to those students and how your school can fill their needs. Once you have established your core values and attributes, everything from your website to your social media posts to the way people talk about your school should reflect your brand.
Areas of interest to students:
- Student services
What services does your school provide? Do students have access to tutoring if they need help? Do they have choices on the types of course materials (new, used, digital and rental)? How do you help facilitate student success?
- Faculty-to-student ratio
Students who are interested in receiving a quality education care about personal attention. Those students who want a close, tight-knit educational experience gain more from a low faculty-to-student ratio.
- Graduates’ preparedness
Keep a close connection with your alumni for more than just fundraising. Career-minded students want to see others who have gone through the same steps as them and found success on the other side. Arranging alumni-student events or setting up internships for current students demonstrates that you understand and care about their futures.
It’s a technological world. All students, regardless of their future profession, will need to work with technology for the rest of their lives. Being comfortable with it and understanding how it works is now an essential.