There’s no getting around it — waitlists are a staple of school admissions processes. Any time your school has more enrolment applications than places available, you’ll need to start putting students on a waitlist and then figuring out how to prioritise it. It’s no surprise that there is often a shroud of secrecy surrounding waitlist management practices, which can lead to inconsistencies in how different team members process an application.
To clear the fog, we’ve put together our no-fail solution to managing your school admissions waitlist. We cover everything you need to know, from waitlisting preferences to processing a successful application.
1. Set up a digital waitlist
This might sound like a no-brainer, but if your school doesn’t even have a waitlisting system in place, it’s time to attend to that — pronto. The best way to start placing students on a waitlist is to set up a solid customer relationship manager (CRM).
A school CRM will automatically collect the information from your online enrolments application form and place it into an easy-to-use system that all of your team members can access. Even if you don’t use an online enrolment form, it’s a great idea to manually input information from your paper form into your school CRM.
From here, you can quickly apply filters to group your applicants by attributes that are important to your process. For example, you can apply a filter to see how many families completed their applications more than one year ago. Alternatively, you can group your applicants by their religion or church membership status. This helps to give your team a holistic view of all of your applications that are ready to process.
2. Create a lead scoring system
At many schools, there will be certain factors that make a family a good fit for your school, and naturally, you will want to bump them up the waitlist queue. These factors are often identified within the application stage, such as:
- whether the student has a sibling already enrolled in the school
- the proximity of their home to the school
- whether they are a child of a staff member, board member or alumnus.
Lead scoring (commonly used by B2B or B2C businesses) is a tool within a CRM that assigns 'points' to a lead based on these desirable attributes. Using lead scoring will help your admissions team to automatically rank each application based on their final score. You can find out all you need to know about implementing lead scoring in our handy guide.
3. Segment your applications
When you’re wrangling a long waitlist, it’s important that your CRM offers you the ability to easily segment your applications. Segmentation means that rather than viewing applicants in chronological order from earliest to latest, schools can instead sort them into their year level of entry, year level of entry and enrolment stage.
Having this crucial feature in your CRM means you can prioritise the applications that need to be processed first. Once you’ve set up your ideal segments, it’s a good idea to save them so that you can keep using them well into the future. Even once they’ve been exported or saved, your segments will also update dynamically, ensuring that your applicant information is current and correct. This means that if new applications come in with fields matching saved filters, they will be automatically added to the relevant segments.
4. Keep prospective parents in the loop
The final piece of the waitlist puzzle is making sure you keep parents informed while they are waiting. Again, a good school CRM will allow you to send automated emails to parents whenever their application progresses to the next stage of your enrolment process.
By scheduling regular check-in emails, you’ll make sure your school remains top of mind and gives parents the opportunity to communicate with you while they wait. It should also severely cut down on the number of phone calls you receive from parents with queries about their application.
How to find a CRM that suits your waitlist needs
Is your school capturing, nurturing and converting every potential enrolment? If not, make sure you find a school CRM that has the functionality to:
- automatically capture lead information from your online form
- streamline your manual tasks, such as email follow-up and updating information
- easily filter and segment your leads.