Get Acquainted Day

Now that October is here, it’s time to start planning your Open House events.

Actually, it’s kind of late to start planning your open house events, since your first open house of the year should be in September or October.  But there are still schools that bemoan the fact that their enrollment is declining, then schedule their ONLY Open House of the year during Catholic Schools Week, or sometime after the frenetic pace of the first quarter has slowed.  Of course, for those schools in the Northeast, there’s a good chance that events held in December through February (and perhaps even March) will be “snowed out.”

Many private schools have at least five Open House events – one during each of the following months:  September, October, November, February and March.  There are also advocates of having monthly Open House events, or even WEEKLY Open Houses.

But here’s a twist on the Open House, and you can start planning for it now.  It’s a “Get Acquainted Day.”  Here’s some verbiage from a Press Release from a local college that holds them.  Note the Press Release format too:

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NEWS RELEASE

For Information:
Don Orlando
Director, Public Relations
Phone 724 537-4560
FAX 724 537-4587
e-mail: pr@stvincent.edu
www.stvincent.edu

Oct. 6, 2005

SAINT VINCENT COLLEGE ANNOUNCES ADMISSION GET ACQUAINTED DAY NOV. 13

LATROBE, PA–Saint Vincent College Office of Admission and Financial Aid has announced plans for an upcoming Get Acquainted Day Open House for prospective students and their families on Sunday, Nov. 13.

Get Acquainted Day features a series of short talks on academics, admission procedures, financial aid and college life at Saint Vincent. In addition, the day includes a tour of the campus by student volunteers and an opportunity to meet with faculty of various academic departments and programs.

The day begins with registration from 11:30 to 11:45 a.m. Early arrivals are welcome to attend a 9:30 a.m. mass in the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica as well as brunch at 10:30 a.m. in the Community Center Dining Hall.

Throughout the day there will be an introduction to Saint Vincent College, admission and financial aid presentations, a student panel, campus tours and opportunities to meet faculty, administrators and coaches.

To register or for further details, contact the Office of Admission and Financial Aid at Saint Vincent College, 300 Fraser Purchase Road, Latrobe, PA 15650-2690, phone 1-800-782-5549, fax 724-532-5069, e-mail admission@stvincent.edu, or register online at http://www.stvincent.edu/admission/visit.

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Although this press release is 10 years old, it still provides a great format for your school to schedule such an event on a Sunday in November (yes, a Sunday).  November 13 in 2005 was a Sunday!  Worship…Brunch… parents have small group sessions as to what to expect, a presentation on financial aid and admission procedures, etc.

Note the difference from an Open House.  The Open House should run itself, so that parents of prospective students can see current students interacting with one another, see how the teachers act in the classroom situation, etc.  This Get Acquainted Day is held on a Sunday because there are other events happening during the week in the lives of the busy family, and to allow parents can have their questions answered about the school without being disturbed by office announcements, emergency phone calls, change class buzzers and bells, and the typical schedule of the day.  It’s also “another invitation” to come and experience the school.  The more of these “emotionally-binding” events you have, the more that parents of potential students feel they’re part of the school community.

As for when to hold your “Get Acquainted Day,” please take note of the time of year that this institution holds their event – it does NOT happen in the Spring.  For those of you that may say that this is a college and not a K-12 school, please note 3 things:

  • Today’s parents of young children more than likely went to college.  They know when they had to make decisions to visit colleges, and when their applications were due.  If you’re still waiting for the Spring to start enrolling for the following year, that’s NOT where today’s parent’s mindsets are
  • Tuition today is not what tuition was 20 years ago.  If your school is parish or church-based, and not supported by a community of churches, the community at large, and a community of alumni, then there’s a good chance that your school is experiencing difficulties.  In the early 1980’s college tuition broke the $100 per credit barrier.  Since 30 credits per year was a full schedule, that amounted to $3000 per year.  The average elementary school tuition is now higher than that, and many high school tuitions are pushing $10,000 a year per student, if they haven’t already broken through that ceiling.
  • Because of those tuition amounts it makes sense to use a budgeting process that’s based on the cost of education rather than on assuming what parents will be willing to absorb as an increase of tuition.  A budget based on potential revenue, and then “hoping” enough revenue from enrolled students can meet the budget doesn’t work for most schools in today’s economic environment, and is why fundraising is still pervasive in faith-based schools.  When budgeting for your school year is based on the cost of education, then you can plan for the number of students necessary to meet the budget, and can apply recruiting process, as well as retention strategies, to meet the goals of the budget.  Dollars raised from development processes can then be used for need-based financial aid as well as scholarships, rather than subsidizing tuition for every student in the school.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2015 (Original Publication Date: 10/6/05)