Do you have a CTE fair or registration event coming up?

Let’s talk about how to tap in and use some of the traditional marketing and promotion practices that we already do for CTE and add in online and social media promotion. 

(If you want to know more about promoting your program using social media, check out this post.)

Recently, I have been able to do quite a few virtual presentations.  What I love about them is the questions and answer part at the end. I was presenting on increasing your CTE program’s visibility. But, I got a question about more “traditional” forms of recruiting and marketing. 

Flyers, posters, videos, open houses, etc. They were asking about the recruiting for the incoming 8th or 9th grade students.

CTE Recruiting Fair, Open House, Orientation, Oh My!

In my school district, we bus the students from the nearby junior high schools and give presentations to the students. The counselors usually give their “graduation requirement” speech. And then they let the students enter the gym where all the elective courses have a “booth.”

This can be an opportunity to show off and “sell” your program, but usually results in students wandering with their friends.

If you’re lucky, you have an event where parents attend as well. There are pros and cons as not all students and parents will attend. Remember this, because you will want to use some other strategies to get their attention. (Keep reading).

Thoughts on Recruiting and “Competing” with Other Electives

Before we get too far into the “how” of taking these events to the next level, I want to give you a little pep talk.

If you are willing to put in the work to have the best courses and program, you deserve to have students sign up for them. 

There is no reason that you should feel “bad” when students don’t sign up for another teacher’s classes. And, don’t let another teacher blame you for their lack of course requests.

They can and should be doing the work too.

Appealing to the “Fence-Sitter” Students during Your CTE Fair

While there are a set of required graduation credits (that vary from district to district, and school to school), students are still graduating early, have early-release from school, or who are office TAs.

(I sure do love our office TAs, but I’d rather have them in a class that they enjoy instead of delivering notes.)

These are the “fence-sitter” kiddos. If they knew about how awesome and amazing your classes are, would they take them? Let’s show them.

There is a place for everyone. If we all do our best at recruiting (and then teaching), then our numbers can all increase.

“Selling” at Your CTE Fair

To maximize the excitement of your courses and try to reach a few of those “fence-sitters,” you need to draw them in.

Have you ever been to a craft fair, market, or expo where people are sitting behind their tables staring at you as you walk by? 

Do you find yourself walking down the center of the aisle so you can glance at what the booths are about without having to talk to someone?

That’s how your future students feel. 

You need a way to get them to come and see what your classes are about. Or strike up a conversation.

The way to do this is by having an interactive booth for at least five students to take part at a time. 

Take up as much space as you can so that you can get as many students involved as possible and you will create FOMO (the fear of missing out). They won’t be able to help themselves, but check out why you have such a large group. And wonder, “what’s going on?”

Promote During and After Your CTE Fair

Need Some Ideas for an Interactive Booth at Your CTE Fair?

3D printers and 3D printed puzzle cubes was what got students to come and talk to me. (This strategy worked so well that when it came time to buy new 3D printers, I bought some that had LED lights that brought students like moths to a flame.)

While you may not have 3D printers to bring, here are some questions to get you brainstorming:

  • Is there a quick skill that I could teach students that is a “quick win”? (How to use their phones to take a photo with a cool effect)
  • Can I make a competition out of something that I teach? (Hammering nails in less than 15 seconds)
  • Can I have students “vote” on their favorite student project? (Ad campaigns, logos, digital media graphics)
  • Do I have any large or oversized teaching materials? (Skeletons, CPR dummies, unplugged welder)
  • Is there something they can make-and-take? (Or begin to make and “through the magic of television” get the completed item)

How to Improve What You’re Already Doing Using Social Media

Now that you have your interactive booth all planned out and ready to go, you are going to ensure that parents know how awesome it was. Even if they weren’t there.

How are you going to do this? 

By creating a social media post/website article to go along with photos from the event. 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Plan your interactive booth
  2. Write a caption ahead of time. (Need free Done-For-You Captions? Get them here.)
  3. Take photos at the event of students participating
  4. Send caption and photos to your feeder schools’ PR/website person AND the school district PR person
  5. Enjoy being the rockstar because you “helped” out the PR people AND you let other stakeholders know of your program

“Why do I need to go through all the trouble to create a post/website article for someone else?”

Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret. Something that I hated as a teacher, but now understand as an administrator–getting students to register is a NIGHTMARE!

That’s why most schools open registration for a short period of time. To create urgency so that students will actually register.

I hated when the counselors would hand out registration cards on Tuesday and ask for students to return them by Friday. WHAT?!? 

You have no time to “sell” your program that quickly. Unless…you’ve already been showcasing your program. 

When you give your “post-ready” social media post/website article to those PR people, they are likely to instantly put your photos and captions online. For everyone to see. Including the families of the students you are trying to recruit.

When their student comes home that day with a registration card in hand, your photos and captions will be “top of mind.”  

Take it from Steven Covey and “Think Win-Win.”

In Summary

In the end, you can keep your classroom organized by creating systems that work f

When recruiting for your CTE program at registration fairs or open houses, create an interactive experience to draw students in. 

Be a step ahead and create website and social media stories by writing captions for the event. Take photos of the event and students interacting with your “booth.” 

Send captions and photos to those responsible for PR. 

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