Franne Van Der Keilen
Director of Advancement (American School of The Hague)
At American School of The Hague (ASH), strategic enrollment management sits at the center of our institutional planning and academic programs and guides us toward our preferred future within a changing environment. Key success factors include emphasizing a culture of student learning and individualized attention, assessing and measuring the strategic value of every core move, establishing clear enrollment targets based on capacity and our strategic plan, and applying best practice.
Engaging in the Learning
Concretely, this means that we prioritize cultivating relationships across our school community by collaborating with our faculty, for example, to establish a solid foundation of trust in the application process and a clear understanding of the enrollment process and parameters. At the start of the school year, we engage with our new staff members about their transition and our expectations when bringing a prospective family on tour into their classrooms.
We also keep faculty closely informed about new student arrivals. When we offer a student a place, we systematically brief the entire school division on the expected start date along with a family and student background. This helps ensure we set everyone up for success and our new students are off to a great start.
We also take the time to visit classrooms and participate in school activities and events to stay fully engaged in the ASH learning experience. Immersing ourselves in the learning provides us with a deep understanding of our programs, which is invaluable as we represent the school to our prospective families.
Understanding Our Context
We study our context to gain an understanding of what is happening around us and how that arena changes over time. This environmental scan forms the crux of our enrollment management planning and helps us understand emerging trends and project them into the future to the best of our ability, based on our knowledge at the time.
In this process, we recognize the connection between enrollment and fiscal management, human resources, technologies, policies and procedures, academic offerings, marketing, development, and alumni engagement. This integrated approach helps us to proactively manage our enrollment as we align our efforts around optimizing student admissions to achieve institutional goals. In sum, our plan encompasses the complete student engagement cycle from the point of inquiry, admission and orientation, to engagement and re- enrollment, graduation and/or transfer, and ultimately joining our Alumni Association.
Cultivating Supportive Bonds
Our data collection and analysis tells us that families learn about ASH and decide to join us as the result of internet research, friends and colleague referrals, and first impressions of ASH after a campus visit. Since our current and former families are our best advocates, we emphasize the nurturing of those relationships on campus and through our Alumni Association. We also conduct parent surveys, collect exit feedback and show our gratitude to referring families; inform prospects via our website and social media highlighting our world-class program and faculty; and prioritize the maintenance and development of our campus.
As the school year progresses and we begin our planning for the next academic year, knowing which students will be returning and who will be leaving us informs our budgeting and enrollment forecasting. This allows us to offer a space to someone in the waiting pool or who is looking to join us from overseas. Knowing this as early as possible, through the issuance of a re-enrollment contract, helps us with classroom and general facilities planning and most importantly, the recruitment of new teachers.
We do this through the markers of the values, vision and mission we uphold and share with our audiences. Championing these unconditionally and across the school to inspire and engage our employees, students and families is key. This, in combination with a great program, and backed by a strong strategic plan creates a community of supporters who, in turn, help us produce the support required for an even greater program the next year. So we aim for a bold and mission- driven marketing plan as we endeavor to connect with those that believe in our purpose within our context.
Has a finger on the pulse
We get out of our office and venture into the classrooms. We stay in the loop about events and volunteer for activities, such as reading to a Kindergarten class or chaperoning a field trip. We know the cafeteria menu and build strong linkages with all staff, including our caterers, transportation officers, athletic director and head of school. Because we make an effort to know our students by name, they will want to join us in talking about our school because they know us. The more we connect with our employees and students, the more authentic and successful our interaction with prospective parents will be!
Keeps communication lines open
During the year, we announce new student arrivals widely and keep real-time enrollment overviews, which we share with the relevant school division and our signature transition Safe Harbor Program to allow for forging early connections with an ASH Student Ambassador and the ASH counseling office.
Connects with parents
We are people-centered and help families decide about the best fit for their children. For this, we always make ourselves available, answer questions with integrity and keep open communication lines with families, which helps strengthen the bonds we forge often for many years following our first point of contact as parents keep ties with the Admissions Office. Remembering the importance of that first connection and nurturing positive parent relationships in combination with cultivating a positive student induction experience are key in helping our parents become our biggest supporters.
Invests time in smooth transitioning
The effort we invest in our Transition program resonates in our families’ school experience for many years to come. We spearhead the ASH Transition program, identifying the parents and staff we deem excellent volunteers to help develop and grow the program. If you don’t yet have a Transition program, start small with a commitment to developing a Student Ambassador program who will inspire their parents to become Parent Welcomers. A Transition program should be a joyful and fulfilling experience for everyone involved.
Is available and willing
We always make time to assist with every request and inquiry. While time-consuming, we believe that responding to a request we know will not lead to an application still leaves a positive impression on the sender. Remember, at all times, how you would like to be treated in such a situation. A random inquiry may just be a parent feeling unable to navigate the right channel for an answer – be that one that takes some of that anxiety off their shoulders. In the end, you will be rewarded – not only will you feel good about the service you provided but they will remember that good feeling when someone asks about your school. Similarly, be there to answer questions for your colleagues at work. Volunteer to join a meeting to answer questions about Admissions or attend a faculty meeting to clear up any anxiety.
How can we make certain that a school will always improve and thrive each year? Ask questions and learn from the responses. Send a New Family Survey and use your Parent Welcomers to encourage responses from new parents. Use a Transition Survey to ask parents who have recently left the school to inform you how their child’s new school is in comparison to your school. Has their child had a better or worse experience? At the end of the year, ask families to participate in Exit interviews to better understand their experience. Sometimes we resist asking questions because we fear the answers or the work that may come with the feedback. But we have to keep learning and trying to make improvements.
About American School of The Hague
Located in Wassenaar, a friendly community near the City of Peace and Justice and at the center of world diplomacy, American School of the Hague (ASH) is the area’s flagship school for a learner-centered, American style education. ASH is host to an Emergent Global Responsibility Research Center and also one of the world’s preeminent international inclusive education institutes.
A global leader in fostering student transitions into ASH and on to universities, ASH is home to more than 1,200 students and 250 employees, including Fulbright scholars, National Principal and Superintendent of the Year awardees, and scores of faculty involved in educational research. ASH enjoys the support of a strong community network through its Safe Harbor transition program, Parent-Teacher Organization, and Alumni Association.