SAIS collected enrollment information from member schools to identify current regional trends in admissions. Responses from 123 schools across 11 states and Mexico are included in the following information with the majority of responses coming from GA, NC, and TN respectively. Smaller schools with enrollment 100-500 make up 44% of responses, 25% from schools larger than 900 students, and mid-size schools from 500-900 account for 24% of responses. 61% of responding schools serve children in grades PK-12.
Enrollment continues to be strong for most schools with 76% reporting an increase compared to the previous year.
While there are modest gains across all divisions, schools are seeing the greatest growth in lower grades.
Schools attribute enrollment gains to the ability to offer in-person learning and increased retention over previous years. Schools seeing steady enrollment numbers over growth are often restricted by physical space or capacity to serve their special populations.
Of those schools seeing an increase in inquiries, 31% report inquiries up across all divisions, followed by 28% seeing an increase in lower school, and 27% in early childhood. This appears to signal an upward trend for the youngest grades which had tended to have seen admissions decline in the past few years. Schools mentioned an influx of families from other states and those seeking full-time in-person learning. It was also noted that tracking inquiries is becoming irrelevant, and the better metric would be number of applications. Schools may have fewer inquiries, but an increased number of applications and this metric is a more concrete and definable metric.
Almost half of respondents indicated that their school had added at least one new section this year. Sections were added across the board from 2-year olds to 11th grade, with sixth and third grade seeing the most additions. Schools also added new programs this year including: environmental education, an engineering certificate, a structured gap year, global leadership, and STEM programs. Other additions included music and art classes, new athletic offerings, electives, and clubs.
Responses overall gave a positive outlook for admissions in our region. Schools are looking forward to returning to more on-campus admission events and developing relationships with new families. Dissatisfaction with local public schools continues to drive inquiries. While it may be difficult to remember what “normal” looks like, schools are excited for the year ahead.
In this recording, we joined SAIS President Debra Wilson for the new Trustee Education Series focused on best practices in independent school governance, including boundaries, confidentiality, committee structure, and more. The curriculum is designed for heads of school, board chairs, and trustees.