Flickr / Photo by Tomash Devenishek.

A Real Opportunity with School Choice

For the first time ever, parents are able to choose the school they think best fits their child’s needs.  Well, people have been able to choose before as long as the schools were within their district. But now, parents have the ability to pick any school they want, not just settle for the public school next to their residence, or even the private institution that’s in their price range.

How will parents know what schools to send their children to though? This is where a new sector of marketing is going to come into play. For the first time ever, public schools will have to promote themselves. If you happen to be one of the top schools in your area, congratulations, life’s about to get even better. That’s great for them, but what happens to the rest of the schools in the middle of the pack, or in the lower tier?

If I had to guess, they’ll specialize in one type of curriculum that will hopefully bring eager students in by the bus loads. Imagine a school that has many bilingual students; they will have the ability to focus on this strength as a selling point and create a staff that reflects this new bilingual curriculum. Or  a school that focuses on computer engineering needs, setting these kids up with programing at a young age and spending extra time on math could really make a difference in their educational growth. Another thing that could set them apart is a partnership with a university. Looking at USC’s website and recommendations, students can start seriously preparing for college in 8th grade. If you set up your curriculum around requirements of certain universities as well as actively partnering with them, your school, and more importantly your students, could gain a huge advantage.

Thinking even further outside the box, what if some high schools focus on vocational skills in addition to general education? Kids in the program would not only receive a high school diploma; they would also earn a technical certificate. This is a common division within European high schools. The big difference here would be choice, in Europe students take a test and those results decide the type of school your student will attend, in my version the student would have the ability choose a college prep school or vocational with out having to take a test.

All these ideas are great, but how will the parents know what school to send their child to? MARKETING! Yay! Schools that want to be successful in this new system will not only have to pick a specialization, but they will also have to convey their message to the public. Facebook gives these schools the ability to use hyper-targeted marketing to get in front of parents and students easily. I’m sure we’ll see some traditional marketing streams continue as well though because the first step is awareness and traditional marketing is good for that.

What’s more interesting to me is seeing the campaigns of these schools' marketing programs. One campaign will be directed at parents - probably highlighting the amenities, academic prowess, and the specialization of their choice. Then we’ll get to see the ads addressing Teen and Tween interests. I’d give you an example, but I’m worried you’d see how out of touch with the youth I am. Ah screw it,” Come to Lakewood Middle School where there’s free Wi-Fi across the building letting you face book your friends or watch YouTube without going over your data limit and getting grounded. There is also class about online content creation, where you learn how to become a social media influencer and we teach you how to create dank MEMES!”…. Yeah, that went about as well as expected.

I think we are going to witness a whole new sector of marketing for schools, and I for one am incredibly excited. For those entrepreneurs out there, take a look at what's going on here because I’ve spoken with a few members of school boards and they openly admit they need help.

Flickr / Photo by Tomash Devenishek.