Measuring and increasing your school's perceived value is challenging, but vital and doable

 By Dr. Harry Bloom

Measuring Success is devoted to helping independent schools increase their enrollment and financial vitality through the creative use of research and analytics.

These days, one of the most intense areas of interest expressed by the schools we work with is “how can I increase my school’s perceived value?” Typically, this is driven by a combination of softening inquiry and application streams, lower enrollment, increased attrition, and a lot of agonized soul searching about tuition levels.

Schools come to Measuring Success for guidance because they know we have regularly studied the relationship between tuition and enrollment and have conducted in depth market research with hundreds of thousands of current and prospective independent school families.

Assessing and increasing perceived value among prospective families is a complicated issue that involves a school’s actual performance, its perceived performance, its level of tuition, the focus of its marketing, and competition. But, there’s good news—a clear research and analytics pathway can predictably increase perceived value.

  1. First, it is vital to identify your particular school’s prime prospect customers—not just your current families, but the prospective families you need to attract in order to grow. Often, prospective families will not share all of the same values, beliefs, and characteristics as your current families and thus need to be treated as distinctive audiences. There is a research enabled, analytically sophisticated way for you to identify your particular school’s prime “Lookalike” prospects—and secure their contact information—to enable you to conduct prospect research.
  2. Next, conduct consumer research among a representative sample of your school’s prime prospects in order to gain an understanding of (a) their school choice priorities, (b) their school consideration sets, (c) their perceptions of how well considered schools deliver on their school choice priorities, and, ultimately, (d) “what would have to be true” for your prospects to enroll their children in your school. Additionally, you can utilize the research setting to gain an understanding of what tuition levels are considered too low, a bargain, a stretch but attainable, and too expensive.

“Measuring Success has helped our school to rethink how we approach recruiting new families. Through helping us to better utilize demographic data and develop target market segments, we will be in a better position to identify and reach prospective students in the future.”

— Stephen Steiner, Superintendent

Briarwood Christian School

  1. Strengthen your evidence of your program strengths, messaging of that strength, and message delivery to true prime “Lookalike” prospects. Document the extent to which you truly excel in your prospects’ priority areas—versus simply asserting that excellence—and then deliver that evidence to your prime prospect customers and measure its impact. This reflective exploration will tell you whether your school needs to strengthen programs, marketing messaging, or media delivery – or possibly all three!
  2. These three ingredients will allow you to create a roadmap to enhance your school’s perceived value and ultimately grow your enrollment. This roadmap will allow for concrete, data-informed steps in tuition setting, program enhancement, marketing messaging about key outcomes, and media targeting.

Measuring Success has the research and analytical skills and deep understanding of tuition setting to help your school enhance its perceived value.


Dr. Harry Bloom is the Senior Vice President, Client Solutions, at Measuring Success. In his independent school work, Dr. Bloom has developed and implemented a number of marquee programs, including the Atidenu Recruitment and Retention program, the Recruitment and Retention Academy, the Governance & Fundraising Academy and a plan for Financial Benchmarking and Financial Reengineering. These programs have helped well over 100 independent schools enhance revenue, increase efficiency and strengthen their sustainability. Dr. Bloom has been a featured presenter at conferences for the National Business Officers Association, the Independent School Association of the Central States, the New York State Association of Independent Schools, and the California Business Officers Association.