February 08, 2019

Mini Musings - Admissions, Re-enrollment, and Marketing at McGillis

by Sallie Warmath, Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management

The National Association of Independent Schools publishes The NAIS Enrollment Management Handbook, a resource for use in independent schools. As Director of Admissions here at The McGillis School, this invaluable tool helps guide me and our administrative team to understand admissions and enrollment in our environment.

So, what is enrollment management? The book’s editor, Christine Baker, describes it this way: “Enrollment management describes the functions and systems that optimize quantity, quality, and compositions of the student body while generating net tuition revenue required to run a financially sustainable school.” In my simplified version, enrollment management and admissions are all about introducing McGillis to as many new families as possible, bringing mission appropriate children (and their families) into our community as students, and retaining (re-enrollment) our current students and families here at our school. 

Bringing in new families to The McGillis School is only one aspect of enrollment management. Another equally important aspect is retention of our students from year to year. Here at McGillis, our retention rate is strong due to our excellent program; our mission, vision, and purpose, statements; and our amazingly supportive community. As the school has grown, so have our academic, athletic, arts, and outdoor education programs. So, when I describe McGillis to folks unfamiliar with us, I picture academics in the center, surrounded and strengthened by ethics and community: Ethics, Academics, Community. This is what families and their children who are enrolled at McGillis experience everyday.

On February 1st, we emailed our current families re-enrollment information and contracts for the 2019-2020 school year. Contracts are due back to the School by this Friday, February 15th. This admissions season, over one hundred and fifty new families will apply to The McGillis School in grades 1-8, hoping their child will be admitted for the fall. Admissions decisions are communicated with those families in April. With new student applications due on March 1, we need to know how many places we will have available in each grade, so timely re-enrollment of current students is an important part of our admissions process. This being said, I so appreciate your attention to getting your re-enrollment in on time. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Marci if there are any special circumstances you need to bring to our attention.

As far as the marketing piece of admissions and enrollment management, I ask new families how they learned about our school. Time and time again, they share that they heard about us from friends, co-workers, and neighbors. I toured one family today who heard about us from a family sledding at Sugarhouse Park on our snow day! Your support and publicity of our program are critical to the on-going admission process. All of these factors contribute to the stability, growth, and financial health of our school. I want to thank you all for assisting us in getting the word out about McGillis and sending children and families to our front door who are a good match for our community!