Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


K-12 Private Catholic School Leaders' Perceptions of Marketing Plans & Enrollment Management: Implications for Leadership and Enrollment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patrick Pauken

Second Advisor

David Tobar (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Tracy Huziak-Clark (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Judy Jackson May (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Lillian Schumacher (Committee Member)


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to identify the strategies that are currently being used by private Catholic school leaders to recruit and retain students. By asking school leaders directly, the study provides information from the perspective of those who are currently leading the schools rather than observations made by third parties. Leadership, marketing, and enrollment management theory helped to provide the framework for the interview questions and focus groups. School leaders were asked what strategies are currently being used to recruit and retain students, if they are involved in the process, what the results of their recruitment and retention activities are, if they have written marketing plans, and any advice they may have for future leaders. The study revealed that none of the schools interviewed have written marketing plans and the current strategies being used to recruit students are word of mouth marketing through parents, campus tours, open houses, and traditional advertising at the high school level including newspaper, television, and billboards. Additional findings were that all of the principals were directly involved in the recruiting process and they all have a deep concern for decreasing enrollment at their school. Additionally all of the leaders gave advice to future Catholic school leaders that they should have a passion for the job and build relationships with the community in which they serve. Given the state of current decreases in enrollment, an enrollment management plan is outlined and recommended for implementation. The enrollment management model is designed specifically for K-12 private schools and includes numerous tools and strategies that can serve as a baseline model to help administration increase enrollment and effectively market their schools. It is hoped that the results of this study will add to the scholarly literature on the topic of enrollment management at private Catholic schools and will help gain insight into strategies that can increase private Catholic school enrollment. It is hoped that the model created in this project can serve as a tool for private Catholic schools whole declining enrollment pose a threat to their survival. Recommendations for future research include market segmentation studies, a study to quantify current recruitment efforts, understanding the relationship between tuition and enrollment, a possible one system model for schools located in one town or area, and lastly why parents choose to send their child to a Catholic school.