Creating students for the life with the enrollment funnel

Imagine enrollment as a funnel where all your prospects are at the top—and at the bottom is where they take action to enroll with you. It’s your job to move them, step by step, down that funnel. But how?

It starts with a relationship that you build, touchpoint by touchpoint, with your prospective students and their parents. To create positive emotional attachment you need to make prospects feel important, connect with them frequently, and tell a story that resonates with them. And this is where the Enrollment Funnel strategy comes in.

Born of my work with schools, districts, and statewide organizations across North America, the Enrollment Funnel is a series of experiences for all prospective students. Every step builds upon the one before, creating positive emotions while guiding prospects to look forward to what happens next.

The minute prospective students become known to you, they drop into the top of your funnel. All marketing messages, open houses, tours, presentations, counselor meetings, and communications from that point move them further down the funnel. When enough positive emotions have been created, the student takes action to enroll in a program.

They’re now at the bottom of your funnel—but it’s just the beginning of the relationship.

More than enrollment

The Enrollment Funnel does more than just fill seats. It works to attract more of the right students and trainees, in the right programs and pathways, for all the right reasons. This enhances the caliber of your enrollees, positively impacts retention, and ultimately creates advocates for your organization within the larger community.

I call this “creating students for life,” and it’s accomplished using the power of the Enrollment Funnel.

Creating students for life is not just about enrollment, it’s about relationships, making them and keeping them. The big picture is a funnel that does not end with enrollment but continues beyond graduation. The funnel will include retention strategies to keep students engaged year after year, and connected until their children are ready to experience your benefits. Creating students for life impacts the community in a positive way that shifts the paradigm, breaks down barriers, and makes a bigger difference.

In the multiple phases and changes of life where career-focused education plays a role, the Enrollment Funnel will help you create students for life.

  • Enrollment: Often viewed as the final goal of marketing efforts, enrollment is actually just the first step in the lifelong relationship building process. From this point forward the funnel will enhance and build relationships by delivering on the promises made during recruitment.
  • Retention: You have them, now you have to keep them. The funnel will make it second nature to deliver excellence in every facet of the experience, treating retention as an annual re-enrollment marketing process.
  • Graduation/Alumni: Are they satisfied students who received value in their relationship with you? The funnel will help keep them engaged and create a series of steps designed to maintain contact and encourage word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Adult Workforce Development: Transition those students needing additional skills/training into postsecondary opportunities at your school or partner programs. A clearly defined funnel, with steps laid out prior to graduation for postsecondary options, makes your programs the easiest alternative for future education.
  • Career Change: According to reports, we all experience at least one career change in our lifetime. The funnel will keep you top-of-mind with your alumni in the event they need additional training.
  • Ongoing Skill Enhancement: With the speed of technological advancements, we all need to upskill and reskill to remain effective in our work. If your organization offers postsecondary skill enhancement programs, the funnel will include strategies to attract alumni.
  • Business Partnerships: Today’s students are tomorrow’s business owners and executives. Each business has diverse needs for a skilled workforce. Your funnel strategy will position you as a partner in keeping their talent pipeline full.

When you create students for life using the Enrollment Funnel, you can look beyond enrollment as the payoff. Enrollments go up and down based on many factors, but the creation of a systematic approach for strong relationships is the foundation of long-term success. It’s no longer enough to simply enroll students and trainees. We must engage them throughout their time with us—and beyond.