Exit Interviewing - Why and How?

If you haven't already, it is time to start planning for exit interviews for families graduating or departing your school early.  Sometimes exit interviewing is thought of as the ugly task no one wants to do, or has time to do, as the year comes to a close. Admission offices typically have the best of intentions - they will invite each family in to discuss their experience, the event will end with warm fuzzies, and a potential bad-blood marketing problem will have been avoided.

Why are exit interviews important? For families leaving, whether at graduation or prior to your final year, exit interviews provide a beautiful opportunity for closure for both family and school. Allowing the family to reflect reminds them of the wonderful experiences they have had, as well as provides a healthy vehicle to express suggestions for improvement. When done year over year, exit interviews provide a salient data point for feedback. Especially when combined with other research inputs, such as families who didn't complete your process, declining families, enrolling families, and parent satisfaction, exit interviewing is often a missing piece that helps schools create a clear picture of strengths and areas of growth.

The reality? Admission officers are often too busy, too tired, not in the right head space, or not the right person to perform exit interviews. Some schools side-step this issue by doing online surveys, or by identifying a variety of staff to take on the interviews depending on the individual situation in the family. These are both solutions that are workable assuming you have created a good survey, or the staff doing the interviews are well-trained. The coding of responses must be consistent in order for the work to have statistical validity. Some schools choose to have an outside person handle the project, however, this is all do-able in house with advanced planning and training.

Please let me know how you have handled exit interviewing in the past, and if the data you gathered was worthwhile. I look forward to your feedback!