How to Get Students For a New Private School in Canada

So you took a big chance and have started your own school. Now comes the hard part. How to get new students to enrol?
First let’s get this out of the way, getting students would depend on the target market that your school is trying to focus on.
Is this an ESL school, Language School, Trade School or a Private Secondary school?
Where is the school based?

All of these things make a difference when recruiting students.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on International private schools and ESL schools.
When recruiting students, any marketing and recruitment campaign must start from a market research.

If you haven’t already done so there are ways to get started.
1. Join a local International Meet-Up Group to talk to local international students and understand where do most of them come from, where have they studied and how did they decide on their schools.

Meet-Up Grousp for International research



2. Create an account with websites like, HelloTalk and other online language training websites. Ask other members about their plans and what is the reason they are learning English.

ITalki - Finding language partners
3. Join local international forums and websites that promote international learning. (China: Weibo,, Japan:, Korea: Naver blogs) – It may be beneficial to have someone speaking those languages to do the research for you as most of these sites will not have an English translation.

JpCanada, international recruiting research

After understanding your ideal target base start by creating a marketing plan.
Your marketing plan must focus on three aspects of the recruitment process.
1. Influencers
2. Organizations
3. Digital

1. Influencer Marketing

How to get digital influencers to promote your private school to their international audience?
Start by positioning yourself. Branding your school is very important when it comes to international recruitment.
Many students make a choice based on prestige and environment. If you have no prestige in the industry you must offer equivalent value in culture. Present your value proposition to influencers. Many influencers would request a fee or commission based structure, however, badly positioned schools will not even get the chance of working with influencers as it is important for influencers to maintain their reputation.
Start by finding influencers that can offer value. Blogs are a good place to start. Go to google and simply type “International Education in Canada+Blog”.

Try the same in languages of your target demographic. Keep in mind that in different countries mediums used to consume information are very different. In China, WeChat is used as prominent information consumption platform. However to have a public business account on WeChat, one must have a valid business license and ID in China.
Reaching out to influencers is not difficult as long as you position yourself and offer value to the influencers. Whether the value is monetary or collaborative your proposition must be simple and straight to the point.

i.e. ” Hi “NAME”, my name is “YOUR NAME” I am an Outreach Manager at “NAME OF THE SCHOOL”. We have stumbled upon your blog and would like to collaborate with you as your audience matches our target demographic. We are happy to offer, “YOUR OFFER”. Kindly let us know what time would you be available for a short conference call to discuss this collaboration further. ”

Influencer Marketing

2.Student Referrals

Another way to attract students is by working with international agencies and institutions. This method is used by 80% of North American schools and is considered to be very efficient. International recruitment agencies charge a standard commission rate per referral.
Ensure that the agency is legitimate and has proper authorization and documentation. There has been an increase in illegal agencies in the past 20 years and working with one can seriously damage your reputation.


3. Digital marketing

Creating a digital presence is perhaps the most important and undervalued outreach method. Part of the reason why it is so undervalued is that it involves more work than the other two methods and requires some knowledge and understanding of digital systems, social media, and content creation.
As marketing is a whole different beast on its own, you can access a comprehensive marketing a lead generation guide here.