Monday, May 11, 2015

Are you planning on re-enrolling next year in {Virtual School Name}?

Starting in March and lasting through May, most virtual schools across the country engage in what they call retention efforts, led by the question "Are you planning on re-enrolling with us next year?"

Some will then release a newsletter that tries to showcase all of the improvements being made for next year, or some new offerings.

Unfortunately it is too little too late.

1. Retention begins at enrollment.

It is imperative that virtual schools understand the true meaning of retention. It is not a question nor a newsletter. It is the daily experiences, daily interactions, and daily consistency on the part of the school to exceed the expectations of the students/families and it begins when they first enroll.

If you are a virtual school and you have what you call Retention Season then you are looking at it the wrong way and the attrition rate will remain high in your school.

2. Retention is not a program but a culture.

Programs and flashy marketing pieces will not overcome the daily experiences families have with your school, your teachers, your staff. You must have a culture that is built on the principle of retaining students -- programs and strategies will fall short. A retention culture is who you are not what you do. It is organic and authentic by design.

If you are a virtual school and you are relying on marketing to retain students then you are looking at it the wrong way and you will continue to lose students each year at an alarming rate.

3. Retention is the primary focus.

Too many virtual schools spend their time trying to find students to replace the ones leaving when they should be spending more time and energy serving the ones already in their schools. When done correctly, it should be much easier to have an existing family say "yes again" than it is to go and find a family to say "yes" for the first time.

One glance at an organizational chart and one can easily determine where retention fits in the hierarchy.

If you are a virtual school and the first time you think about retention is March, then your eyes are focused in the wrong direction and you will continually have to work to find new students.

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