8 Attributes of Healthy Enrollment

If you’ve been with us since the beginning of this series, The Pursuit of Healthy Enrollment, you know we’ve been dissecting some big topics, such as the marketing strategies and market forces driving families to your school and some of the emerging complexities of full enrollment

At this point, you might be wondering, what if “full enrollment” isn’t really the goal after all? What would it look like for “healthy enrollment” to become a shared envisioned future? 

In Part 3, we’re here to tackle those questions together. Let’s get started.


Full Enrollment vs Healthy Enrollment

To be clear, we’re not throwing full enrollment under the bus. At North Star Marketing, we want every school we work with to be full, so long as full means healthy. So let’s unpack “healthy enrollment” and examine closer what that could look like. Below are 8 attributes of healthy enrollment.


Mission-fit Families

The families enrolled in your school know what you’re about, and they believe in it. They value the work you’re doing, and they align with your values.


Profitable Head Count

Regardless of your size, you’re profitable. While your school is likely a nonprofit, you’re operating in the black on the merits of net tuition revenue. You may choose to make up 5-10 percent of your budget through fundraising, but ideally your tuition covers your operating overhead. Your enrollment revenue covers your expenses, whether you are full or not.


Manageable, Not Chaotic

Your leadership is not perpetually in firefighting mode. Because you’ve got right-fit families who are bought into what you’re doing, you can be clear-minded and strategic rather than reactive and stressed. There is a shared sense of alignment and excitement across your school community. The vibe is positive, not negative. 


Strong Net Promoter Score

You’re regularly measuring parent satisfaction, and the metrics are encouraging. If you’re unfamiliar with NPS, check out Dr. Rick Newberry’s work on this topic. In short, a strong score is 50 or higher.


Positive Morale Among Faculty and Staff with Low Turnover

Parent satisfaction is not the only “happiness indicator” that matters. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of faculty and staff satisfaction. Are they engaged? Do they believe in the direction of the school? Do they feel supported? Do they have what they need to do their jobs effectively? 

If not, it’s only a matter of time before teacher frustrations create gaps in parent satisfaction. And before you know it, word-of-mouth will suffer.


Strong Retention

You need to have some turnover every year, as not every family is a right-fit family. With that said, your school should be retaining 90 percent or more of your current families. Your enrollment will likely not be healthy if you’re below this mark.


Maximized Programming

When enrollment is healthy, families seek out and take advantage of the programs you’ve implemented. You’re culling out stuff that isn’t working and testing promising concepts that could take your school to the next level. The result is an engaged student body that’s involved in a range of interesting activities that showcase nicely on social media and drive word-of-mouth.


Effective Teams

Your Board and Executive Teams are thinking clearly and acting strategically. Because the school is populated with right-fit families, they’re not distracted by off-mission issues. Your faculty and staff are bought in and aligned. The marketing and admissions teams have clear enrollment goals and seasonal priorities. All of your teams have a bias toward action, and they get stuff done. 

High School Science Class

You can get there from here.

It’s helpful to think about enrollment health not just in terms of financial impact but rather the net impact of key aspects of organizational life.

 Start by downloading this resource that will help your team visualize and assess areas of unhealthy and healthy enrollment at your school.


If you have questions or would like to learn more about how North Star Marketing helps independent and faith-based schools achieve healthy enrollment, contact one of our solutions advisors.

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