TFS® is proud to present a case study on the recent enrollment success of our client, Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District located in Lexington, MA. Over the past year, Minuteman has experienced:
- 37% increase of in-district students with significantly more right students, focused and committed to the right programs for the right reasons
- 97% retention rate
- Heightened staff morale/organization climate
What’s making the difference at Minuteman? We asked the team to share how the TFS strategic plan, best practices, and drip sequence have helped them grow their enrollment and retention so significantly in just one year. To understand these results, we will look at some of the foundational perspectives and practices they’ve adopted across the organization.
Telling the Same Story
When everyone’s on the same page, great things happen. One of TFS’s strategies is to create a powerful thread, a core idea that is woven throughout all communication. This narrative succinctly conveys the incredible value and competitive advantage of both the organization and career-focused education as a whole. Used consistently across the organization, this addresses stigmas before they become a negative factor in the decision-making process.
This value narrative involves every program, every position, and every event held by an organization. Minuteman says, “Scripting the Showcase Day and Career Day has raised the level of performance all around. Now, instead of pockets that shine, every area operates and speaks in a similar fashion and that impresses people.”
Climbing with the Career Tree®
Of course, a foundational strategy in crafting this value narrative is the Career Tree. Minuteman’s Assistant Principal/Admissions Director George Clement shares, “The Career Tree is the most powerful tool when trying to persuade skeptical parents. Whenever I present to parents, it is the first slide I show because in 5 minutes I’ve explained our competitive advantage in a clear, tidy, undeniable conceptual framework. They see its educational value, relating an individual’s passion to a level of education, to a job. Purpose driven for each person is how education should be, but the traditional model only offers school for the sake of school.”
Students and parents need to see the opportunities that career-focused education delivers in today’s economy. “It chills them when I talk about earning only a diploma as synonymous with getting on the stump of the Tree, instead of being on a branch with professional licenses and certifications. It enlightens them to consider the hundreds of outcomes where a career path can lead. When people comment, “I never thought about culinary student becoming a nutritionist, a cosmetology student studying chemistry, or environmental science student aspiring to be an environmental lawyer,” I know they better understand that the 21st century CTE school is much different than the 20th century version.”
The Right Students Attract More Right Students
Minuteman has fully embraced the TFS philosophy that the right students will attract more right students. Prospective students who see peers excited about their learning experience will take notice and envision themselves in that position.
At Minuteman, this has happened on two levels: the Student Ambassadors and the Showcasers. Minuteman says, “Student Ambassadors help with off-site presentations, all the new admissions events, and other common nights like Parent-teacher conferences. They are like “peer leader” groups at other schools.” Showcasers, on the other hand, “are students who are very good in their CTE area and conduct experiences on Showcase Day and Career Day, but they may not have the skill set nor desire to speak at larger public events and perhaps can’t commit to extended community service.”
When involving the current right students in enrollment efforts, it’s important to understand their strengths so they can be placed where they will be most effective. Minuteman has created several faculty stipend positions dedicated to organizing and developing Student Ambassadors and Showcasers. The result is a win-win both for new and current students: “Altogether, asking more of our best students has made them feel important, increased the bond with faculty as we all strive for a common mission, and been the best draw for recruitment. In short, the right students attract the right students.”
Retention is in the Details
Retaining students through graduation starts with how you approach your interactions with prospective and current students. “Little things help shape how kids feel. We visited them at middle schools and gave them hats. They also got tee shirts with their class on it. Dinner with the Teacher has boosted how people feel about being here. We added an Activities/Sports Fair to our New Family Orientation, again led by kids. Even heavy use of name tags to aid in getting to know kids has helped.”
Often, improving retention is just a matter of being a little more intentional in the valuable things you’re already doing. As Minuteman says, “We have always been friendly — we just show it more clearly now by doing the little extras that matter to this generation.”
We want to thank Minuteman for taking the time to share these strategies and results with our readers. It is our hope that the success at Minuteman can be replicated at many other career and technical centers across the country, as we work together to make a bigger difference.
About Mark C. Perna and TFS
TFS, whose mission is to share and support its clients’ desire to make a difference, is a full-service strategic consulting firm founded by national workforce development expert Mark C. Perna. Mark, a noted voice on Generations Y and Z, has many years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and has devoted his career to education and workforce training. At TFS, Mark heads an energetic team of talented professionals who share his vision of making a bigger difference, working with educators and employers of all sizes nationwide to deliver significant gains in recruitment, retention, and performance rates.
Minuteman is an award-winning regional high school that integrates robust academic and career & technical learning to deliver a revolutionary competitive advantage. The school serves a diverse student body with multiple learning styles, expanding opportunities for college and career success. As an accredited member of the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC), Minuteman challenges all students to aspire to their full potential, accelerate their learning, and achieve success in the 21st-century global community.