Everyone who has worked with Meitler knows we don’t like to guess. We rely on the quantitative and qualitative data that forms the foundation for all planning. We recently partnered with one of our long-time friends, the Diocese of Richmond, in updating their comprehensive data report. We are delighted to see the great success they are achieving in enrollment management using a data-based approach.
We are truly impressed with the focus and the initiatives that the leadership in the Office of Catholic Schools employ in working with each school’s enrollment plan. They have developed a process and a series of metrics to guide and measure success with each school throughout its marketing, recruitment, admissions and retention pathway each year.
Members of the office meet with each school to provide support for admissions and enrollment management (marketing, whole school engagement, retention strategies, etc.). An annual meeting is held in the fall with all principals, and their enrollment and marketing teams to review current enrollment numbers in light of the school’s enrollment goals, provide assistance in developing action steps to achieve those established goals, and share professional development on trending strategies and create enrollment and marketing plans for the upcoming year. A full-on focus on retention plans plays a significant part in the overall approach to growth, which is making a great impact overall. Their process is a brilliant marriage of support and accountability that is producing results.
For the 2021-22 school year, overall enrollment among the twenty-three diocesan schools grew by 10% or 683 students. A total of 5,490 students (90%) returned from last year, the best average retention rate in 9 years for them. Growth since the last school year is 10%, it is “the first time seeing growth in over 17 years,” per the Office of Catholic Schools. Individual school increases for 2021-22 ranged from 1% to 35%, with the top five schools showing percentages from 19% to 35%. While leadership says that growth occurred at all grade levels, “the early childhood programs and K-2 saw the most growth” and “believe that it is a combination of last year’s success and continued uncertainty with Covid.” However, their diligence in establishing metrics and measuring enrollment growth on a very regular basis are significant factors in ensuring their success.
They say you can’t argue with the numbers and you can’t argue with the success of building enrollment around effective use of data and metrics. We congratulate the Office of Catholic Schools staff in the Diocese of Richmond for their focused research, effective use of the data, and the resulting success with their schools. You gladden our hearts and we wish you and each of your schools continuing success.