School Communications
Back To Trending

Buzzword Bingo: Overused Words in School Marketing

Education is rife with buzzwords, jargon, and clichés. Although there’s nothing wrong with using common terminology to promote your school system, sometimes, you need to infuse your school’s strategic mission or taglines with a genuine, personalized touch that’ll set you apart from the crowd. We’ve found some commonly used (dare we say overused?) terms in school marketing.

If your school messaging contains any of the words below, don’t fret. Just think about how you can use them authentically, in a way that is unique to your brand. How can you add your school’s unique accent to the conversation?

      • Excellence: How many schools claim to strive for excellence? It’s practically a rite of passage in education marketing. But excellence means different things to different schools. Instead of merely echoing the term, define what excellence means for your unique community and outline the specific steps you’re taking to reach it.
      • Every Student: It’s a phrase we’ve all heard a million times, and it’s high time we give it new life. Instead of simply stating “every student,” let’s explore how your school actively ensures that every student benefits from your educational approach, making it more than just a buzzword.
      • Career-Ready: Being career-ready is essential, but it’s a fine line. While preparing students for the workforce is a goal, education is more than job training. It’s about nurturing well-rounded individuals who are equipped not only for their careers but also for the lifestyle they imagine. Most communities also expect schools to develop informed, empathetic, and engaged citizens. At a time when many arts and library programs lack funding, it is important to show how your school is striking a balance.
      • Empower: Empowering students is a noble mission, but don’t leave it at that. Specify how you empower students and build self-efficacy to succeed in the future, whether through financial literacy, leadership development, or problem-solving skills.


      • Lifetime Love of Learning: This is a well-worn phrase in education marketing. So, how does your school genuinely cultivate a passion for learning in every student? It’s time to move beyond the cliché and illustrate the fundamental strategies that instill deep curiosity and an enduring love for learning. Do the images on your website show students in love with learning? Show us your alums and entrepreneurs, students who returned to teach and coach in your schools, and how many students go on to explore learning after high school.


      • 21st Century Skills: We’re well into the 21st century now, so it’s high time to retire this phrase. Instead, spotlight the concrete skills your school is nurturing, such as critical thinking, adaptability, and global awareness.


      • Holistic Education: Every school promises a holistic or whole-child education, but what does that actually mean in your context? Describe how you foster intellectual, emotional, social, and physical well-being, backed up with real-world examples.


      • Unlocking Full Potential: The phrase “full potential” is often used but can also be problematic. What does it truly mean?  Does every child have the same potential? If we want children to have a growth mindset, doesn’t that imply unlimited potential? What happens when students hit their ‘full potential’ or exceed grade-level standards? Are you prepared to challenge students who break the grade-level ceiling?  Instead of potential, explore how your school helps every student unlock their unique capabilities, talents, and passions.


Personalizing Your School’s Mission and Taglines

When penning your school’s messaging, remember that it needs to resonate deeply with your community. What do students, families, educators, and other stakeholders value most? Articulate how your school aligns with those values. 


Minnetonka School District promises all students will envision and pursue their highest aspirations while serving the greater good. They “instill expectations that stimulate extraordinary achievement in the classroom and in life” through their academic and unique specialty programs, including Minnetonka Research, VANTAGE, SAIL, Momentum, and language immersion options.

Nova Classical Academy is a public K-12 charter school in Minnesota, promising an “exceptional education in a classical setting.” Their tagline of ‘Know Yourself. Know the World.’ is a personalized nod to their focus on intellectual curiosity and education in classical traditions and philosophies. 

Laura Jeffrey Academy is a public 5-8 charter school in Minnesota, promising a STEM-focused, inclusive educational experience. Their tagline of ‘Think. Dream. Do.’ speaks to their belief in exploration, discovery, and sparking brilliance in their scholars. 

Do all these schools promise academic excellence? Absolutely. Do they foster a lifetime love of learning? Certainly. Are they teaching 21st-century skills? That (should) go without saying. But these school systems are remarkably different in personality and approach, and their messaging speaks to the hearts and minds of their students, families, and staff. 

To craft messaging that aligns with your school system, follow these five simple guidelines:

        • Know Your Audience: When shaping your school’s mission, remember that it should come from and resonate with your community – families, students, teachers, and stakeholders. Understand what they believe and value most. Then, articulate how your school aligns with those values.


        • Use Differentiators: Identify what sets your school apart from the rest. Whether it’s a particular focus on environmental education, a thriving arts program, or a rich history of community involvement, make these strengths a prominent part of your tagline.


        • The “Why” Matters: In the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Go beyond the basics of education and explain the passion and purpose that drive your school.


        • Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of just stating your school’s mission, share compelling stories that bring it to life—spotlight success stories of students, alums, and faculty who embody the mission.

        • Engage the Community: To foster a sense of ownership and commitment, involve your community in the mission and tagline creation process. Host workshops, surveys, and conversations to gather input. The process is often more important than the resulting words.


Successful school marketing is more than what you say; it’s what your school staff does to make learning happen every day. It’s time to tell your school’s story in a creative, effective, and lasting way. Need help crafting personalized messaging for your school? Reach out to our team!

Published on: December 6, 2023