Tip of the Week: Incorporating well trained, high functioning parent docents into your school tours can add a strategic marketing advantage at no cost
- by Jeff Escabar
Director of Admission
Marin Country Day School, CA
AISAP Board of Directors
As prospective applicant parents tour schools to learn about program, school mission and ultimately the right family fit, they will need to rely on schools’ websites, printed materials, word of mouth and information from school tours to help make an informed decision. While clearly the Admission Director is in the best strategic position to answer questions and represent the school, many schools use current parents to add another dimension to the process.
Admission Directors can recruit targeted parents in their school’s community and capitalize on their positive views of the school and allow them to speak with applicant parents. Once docent parents are identified, a training session covering all the necessary aspects of the school community, the admission process and what the docent will specifically be responsible for is in order. Developing a handbook for docent parents adds another dimension to help ensure a consistent message is being offered. This training and accompanying handbook serve as a review of the school’s mission, curriculum, activities, traditions and all of the many elements that went into the docent parent’s decision to send their child to the school.
Many schools have school tours that are led by parent docents. Applicant parents often have questions that can better be answered from a parent’s perspective. It is essential to recruit parents who consistently demonstrate a positive attitude toward your school. Spending time on the front end training them will make for a strong marketing advantage. And of course, docent parents need to feel comfortable indicating they don’t know the answer to a specific question and refer that question back to the Admission Director.
Another added bonus in working with current parents in your school is eliciting their input about families where it appears the fit will be a good one or when the fit might not work. As long as you set realistic expectations that their input is only one piece of the puzzle and their view is solely advisory on the front end you can get some good information that might not always come through during their formal interview with the Admission Director.
Applicant parents who visit a school and see a significant showing of administration, current parents, faculty and students receive a powerful marketing message that this is a community all working together for the benefit of children.