August is here and school is back in session! As new students, new energy and new challenges await, the last thing you want is to get off to a rocky start. After years of working with hundreds of schools around the world, we’ve learned a lot about what makes for a smooth back to school experience. Check out our 5 key tips below to ensure your first 90-days are a success:

1. A Well-Prepared Orientation: While you know every in and out of your school, it is important to approach Orientation preparation as if you were a parent walking through those doors for the very first time. Providing checklists and FAQ sheets for parents and students at Orientation will keep them on track and answer many of the common questions. This will give you more time to show off your school’s personality instead of repeating answers! Try to get as many faculty and staff involved in the Orientation Day as possible. Parents will quickly pick up on your team environment which is a great image to project for your school. Don’t forget to provide name badges for all faculty and staff to help make them more approachable on the big day!

2. Simplify the Parent Experience: Create simple and organised processes for things like getting supplies, registering students for classes, and buying uniforms to minimise questions and create a smooth experience. Send out important information over the summer break, provide easy-to-use communication tools like a fridge magnet/contact card, and set up small group trainings for school systems that parents use to ease the transition. You want parents to remember the good things about their first weeks at the school, not that they couldn’t sign in to the parent portal and then spent an hour calling different offices for support.

3. Welcome Parents / Student Ambassador Programs: Developing a deep understanding of the transitioning challenges your families face is extremely important. We have seen these programs become widely successful across many schools. The selection process is crucial to ensure you have the right parents/students for the job. Once implemented, you will find that incoming families are very appreciative to have such a useful resource at their disposal.

4. Update Your Admissions System: School has resumed and you are ready to look forward to the next agenda items for the year; however, your admissions system may not be as ready as you are. Take this time to set yourself up for future success. Are Orientation days, tours and events updated in your system? Is your re-enrolment process implemented to save you time in the spring? What changes can you make now to avoid some of the issues you encountered this past year when processing applications? Being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your admissions system will save you time and effort in the long run.

5. Enjoy It!
An admissions office is one of the initial places a prospective family sees. This means you are a key part of making the first impression. While your workload will see many ups and downs throughout the year, be sure to stay fresh and loose by prioritising tasks, getting away from your desk occasionally, and even having a laugh with your team. The school year is a long road. Taking time to enjoy the journey allows your enthusiasm and charisma to shine through with every new family you meet.

Check out related articles in the International Admissions Bulletin for a successful start to the academic year:

10 Ways to Make the First 90 Days Smoother by Catalina Gardescu – Manager of Admissions & External Relations at American International School of Bucharest

What Matters: Admissions Team as Transition Support Gurus by Magdalen Gray – Advancement Director at American International School of Budapest

Student Ambassadors by Sabrina Black – Student at International School of Paris

Hello Goodbye by Drs. Douglas Ota – Author of Safe Passage

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