How TABS Is Re-Branding Boarding Schools [Podcast]

Megan Cartier

Megan Cartier

The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is the public voice for college-preparatory boarding schools and a central resource for those looking for a boarding school education for their child. The not-for-profit membership association serves roughly 250 boarding schools across the United States, Canada, and abroad is the one-stop resource for boarding school staff seeking training, research, guidance, and support on all issues pertaining to the residential school experience. TABS achieves this by hosting an annual conference, several site-based and online workshops, producing industry research, publishing an annual magazine and directory, and hosting a robust website for both families and educators at

Megan Cartier leads the most important and exciting initiative in the history of TABS—the North American Boarding Initiative (NABI)—which aims to increase boarding enrollment by 10% over five years. Under Megan’s leadership, the TABS team will develop and share relevant market data, insights, tools, resources, and programs that can be utilized by participating schools in their own enrollment marketing. NABI has branded its initiative “Ready for More?”

Megan comes to TABS with experience in operations and marketing for banks, media and technology companies, and telecommunications. She has worked on the “agency side" at Digitas, serving Fortune 200 clients, including Comcast, Travelers, and TIAA.  Megan is also an entrepreneur as owner and director of Flow Yoga in Loudoun County VA.

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Megan Quoted

“What attracted me to NABI is the first time the category of boarding schools has been marketed on a grand scale. And this is an opportunity to build a brand from the ground up.”

“I equate the NABI initiative, now called Ready for More, with “Got Milk?” for the California Diary Farmers Association. I think it can really be transformative in the way that boarding school are marketed.”

“NABI is targeting households that can pay 60-100% of boarding school tuition. Amongst these affluent households which we have determined is most likely between 200-250,000 households, that have students aged 10-16 and the means to pay, just 2% of these households cited an awareness with boarding schools unaided.”

“When we asked this group to rank their perception of boarding schools, over 50% gave the category of boarding schools one star out of five.”

"The great news is once we had the chance to talk about the transformative experience of boarding schools with our target audience, the perception of boarding schools went significantly higher."

54% of parents said they would consider boarding school if their child asked them to.

"We’re broadening ‘college prep’ to ‘life prep.'"

"The cost of an independent school education keeps going up, and what we’re learning from families is that they understand the value and either they don’t have the means to pay, or they’re not seeing enough value in that gap between zero dollars and whatever that annual tuition is to justify it."

"There are 27, 580, total domestic boarders. 15,900 are high and full pay domestic boarders. We want to add 2,000 to that second number."

What You’ll Learn 

  • Why TABS chose to undertake the North American Boarding Initiative?

  • What TABS has learned about the public perception of boarding schools and private schools?

  • How TABS will use what they have learned in their research to market and brand boarding schools as a category.

  • What are the best ways to market to prospective students vs to their parents?

  • The results of the spring media test with a $200,000 budget.

  • The difference in approach needed for brand building vs lead generation.

  • What factors are most important to parents when evaluating the options for their child’s education.

  • The challenge of moving the dial on parents who are happy with their child’s public school.

  • How TABS came up with the “Ready for More?” campaign.

  • What can any independent school learn from the NABI initiative about communicating the value of what you do.

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