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Keeping Up With the…InquiriesMonday, November 30th, 2015

counselor-brianThe college admissions profession is full of ups and downs. Those in it, particularly young counselors, are finding that they need to constantly acquire and sharpen new skills without a clearly defined career path.

This guest blog, the first in a series, will follow one college counselor as he navigates the current admissions recruiting cycle. He is Brian Switay, a second year admissions counselor at Stevens Institute of Technology, a private research university in Hoboken, New Jersey.  His stories are intended to provide an inside look at the challenges he faces as he aspires to grow and advance in the profession.

 

By Brian Switay:

With Travel Season coming to a close and application reading approaching faster than the next season of your favorite television series, one can only reflect on the travel season they had in the (not so short) lull of action between traveling and reading. Yes, it is true; many are still finalizing their final weeks of travel, while others are back in the office, responding to emails and phone calls about decision timeframes and if you will be receiving their official scores from CollegeBoard.

Then you remember I want to browse through all the inquiry cards that I have received and reach out to some students to give some personalized attention. As you scour your notes, it hits you. How can I really personalize this information a couple of weeks after meeting them? I am sure that most of you place what you discussed, what program of interest the student seeks out, or their close relationship to an alumni or employee, but did you ever take notes on the personal interests of the student?

I can say that the best relationships that I have fostered with a student and family are not based off of what program they are interested in pursuing but how to connect with that family on a personal level. Ask questions indicative of what the student is wearing at the fair or why they want to study this field. I have built a great relationship with a family after listening to their suggestion on them loving Mexican food and after a campus tour, where do I recommend? After a few days, I HAND WROTE a letter explaining how happy I was to have met them and hope that they enjoyed their lunch at Charrito’s in Hoboken. (The best in town!). When I attended a college fair at her high school, the family approached me with a menu of their recommendation for their favorite Mexican restaurant in their town! I was shocked! After that interaction, I learned that she is planning on applying Early Decision 1 based on how attentive I was to her personal interests.

I have also gone out of my way to make myself available to the best of the worst celebrity gossip, who is dating whom, what is the best television show out, who’s album is currently trending on iTunes, what is the latest phrase and terminology, and relating these thoughts (and sometimes phrases) back to the student in a way that they can connect with the program of study they are interested in. For example, one student said that he was interested in pursuing Mathematics (but had no idea why or what he can do with the degree upon graduation) and that he was also a huge Ben Stiller fan. I quickly proceeded to ask him if he had ever seen the movie Along Came Polly, to which he replied with an enthusiastic “Yes” (Ben Stiller stars in this film)! I continued to explain that Ben Stiller plays an Actuarial Scientist and calculates the risk for people in life for insurance or financial programs and that the student can achieve the same career with a degree in Mathematics as one of the options. By connecting with him on a personal level and how he can achieve something based on such a small interest can open the doors and make your jobs easier.

So I ask, how have you connected with your students lately?

Your Ultimate Weapon for a Year of Recruiting, Coaching Growth, and AchievementMonday, November 30th, 2015

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

As fall sports are wrapping up, how has this year been going for you so far? Are you getting the recruits you want? Is your team progressing and as successful as you want it to be? How is your health and energy? Is your staff firing on all cylinders?

If you are not where you want to be, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Most coaches I’d say are not where they want to be at this point in the year.

So, let’s fix it!

I want to share with you what has become my ultimate weapon. This very powerful tool is something we all have access to every single day and yet most people never even use it, or are not using it in the right way.

So what is this great personal development tool that can guide our yearly, monthly, and daily actions and could be the key to having your best year of growth and accomplishment for you individually and for your program?

It is your calendar.

How do you currently use your calendar? Whether your use paper or a computer calendar, do you use it just to record your to-do list busy work like go to a game here, recruiting call there, pick up groceries, etc.

Or do you use your calendar to think bigger picture? If you are not doing so already, I want you to use the strategic 12 months that we are all given every year to grow and develop into a better coach, a better recruiter, a better leader, get healthier, etc. Bottom line, to achieve the next level of achievement for us individually and with our programs, we need to use our calendars more strategically.

I learned how to set up my calendar this way from Brendon Burchard, who is one of the best personal development trainers out there. In the training I did with him, he had me think about 5 different areas of my life where I could have significant growth and then strategically map out the next 12 months of my life. Those 5 areas were in skill development, health, fun, relationships, and joy.

I am more than willing to share how I did this in all 5 areas, but for now, this is how I took this training and applied to what we do as coaches in the area of skill development.

My Goal: Be a better recruiter.

Ultimate Outcome: I was low on staff, budget, and time. I was annoyed and frustrated that every task pertaining to recruiting was taking so long so decided to solve my own problem and come up with a solution. I wanted to have set up a better recruiting system for my staff and I by the end of the year. I set out to find a way to do each recruiting task more efficiently and done in a way so it could get broken down, analyzed, and improved upon to produce good predictable results.

This was the plan I created for skill acquisition:

January: Map out a year-long communication/recruiting plan

February: Write faster and more compelling messages

March: Subject lines that get opened

April: Exercise, nutrition, sleep, and water

May: Manage my time and focus

June: Close the sale

July: Track our recruiting and team results

August: Standard operating procedures for my staff and myself written down

September: Automate or execute repetitive tasks

October: Save time and money with recruiting travel

November: Learn how to speak on the phone and in person better with recruits and their parents

December: Create a better way to manage my email.

The most critical part of executing this plan was that I scheduled it into my calendar. I time blocked 55 minutes of my day into my Game Changing Results Action Plan. I set my stopwatch and then I focused on nothing else but acquiring this skill to become a better recruiter. At the end of the 55 minutes, I took the last 5 minutes of the hour to get up out of my chair and did something physical so I could clear my head, refocus, and get my energy back up.

At the end of each month, I didn’t always completely master the topic, but I learned a heck of a lot and knew that I was getting better. At the end of the year, I was able to come up with a better recruiting system that was a lot of work to set up, but in the long run I am saving so much time and energy. I can measure and track results. We can smoothly transition if a new coach comes on board because we have a standard operating procedure for our recruiting tasks. I have checklists to reduce the time it takes us to do things and now nothing gets forgotten.

Utilize your calendar better this year by mapping out a 12 month skill development plan that will push and challenge yourself. Every single month set a monthly personal development challenge for yourself. Every 30 days make yourself a personal challenge to become a better person, coach, friend, or leader. At the end of the month you can look to see how well you did.

If you are interested in seeing a page of my daily planning system, email me at mandy@mandygreencps.com. Also, let me know if you would be interested in seeing the recruiting system that I created for myself? I am working on creating one place that you can have access to that will have all of my checklists, my best subject lines, and all of the systems that I have created.

Your Coaching CanMonday, November 30th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

I’ll stick my neck out and guess you haven’t given much thought about what you want your coaching to do.

Sure, you know what coaching CAN do. You’re aware coaching can have a powerful impact, can open doors, can make a mountain out of a molehill.

But have you thought — really thought — about what you WANT your coaching to do?

My Man Buster

I grew up watching silent comedies. Every Saturday afternoon the local PBS station ran old movies from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. I was glued to the TV, and I would never miss a Keaton movie. He always held a special attraction to me.

Keaton was/is an amazing artist. He created, designed, and did his own stunts. There was never a second take. If the stunt didn’t work the first time, he threw it out. He knew exactly what he wanted his comedy to do. To engage, grab attention, in an original way. And that’s what separated him from many of his peers, and why he is remembered, almost 100 years later, as one of the greatest.

Imagine what might happen if you did the same — if you knew what you wanted your coaching to do.

Your Coaching Can

Y’see, coaching CAN do many things. Coaching can:

  • Add depth to an educational experience
  • Teach important life lessons
  • Keep kids safe(r) from harsh realities
  • Create lasting relationships
  • Help craft personal stories
  • Connect people with something bigger than themselves
  • and thousand of other things

That’s worth a hard stop — because coaching CAN go different ways.

For example, described above are results from positive coaching. You can take that list, put a negative slant on coaching and things are quite different. Negative coaching can:

  • Degrade an educational experience
  • Teach the wrong life lessons
  • Physically, mentally, socially damage athletes
  • Destroy relationships
  • Help people craft destructive personal stories
  • Isolate and alienate

The simple fact is your coaching CAN AND WILL do something — there is no way around that. So, if you don’t know what you want your coaching to do, odds are strong you and your coaching could well end up someplace you don’t want to be.

Action You Can (and should) Take

Here are three actions to consider.

1) Think about your coaching, from the end-perspective. What exactly do you want it to do? Me? I want my coaching to help people develop the skills they need to be successful in life.

Now you. Do you want your coaching to be about winning? Changing the face of a neighborhood? Helping youngsters laugh while in motion? What is it YOU want you coaching to do?

2) Determine how close you are to the end, at this point in time. In my example, I discovered I wasn’t giving the athletes enough leadership opportunities.

How close are you to your end?

3) Build to the end. In my case, knowing I wanted my coaching to help the athletes develop life skills, and realizing I wasn’t giving them enough leadership opportunities, I:

  • expanded my captains from one to three
  • at least one captain to be a junior
  • implemented SAMs (student athlete mentors) for our team
  • made other leadership roles available, such as social director, senior coxswain, etc.
  • meet with leaders consistently and listened (really listened)

If you know what you want your coaching to do, it may taking nothing more than creative thinking to get there. But, you need to know what you want it to do.

And that is something you and your coaching CAN do.

And One Last Thing

Can you spare 3 minutes? I have a 5 important questions to ask. Your answers will tell me what I should create to best serve you in 2016 – which is exactly what I want to do. It’s my survey — but it’s all about you.

I appreciate your attention, and will never take it for granted.

Thanks for being here. And coach well. We need you now — more than ever.

– Mike

11 Recruiting Reminders: What You Need to KnowTuesday, November 24th, 2015

workshopby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Like many of you, I just finished my fall travel season. Last week’s admissions training workshop was my final one until the New Year.

A big part of every workshop I do is the individual meetings. I flat out love them. It’s an opportunity to meet one-on-one with the counselors, assistant directors and the director and provide them personalized training and direction based on their individual needs and experience.

One of the first questions, if not the first, that I always ask is, “You tell me, what can I help you with?” Inevitably the discussion topics vary based on a college’s location, institution type and the level of experience of the staff member. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great discussion and strategizing…usually to the point where I have to end the session because it goes past our scheduled time.

Today I’ve taken eleven of the most popular topics from those meetings and turned them into helpful reminders just for you. Each one is something that you can use right now (if you’re not already).

  1. Regardless of where the student is in the process you have to vigorously and continually cultivate a recruiting relationship with each recruit. It starts with understanding or remembering that different recruits have different problems and motivations. I have counselors tell me all the time that they understand the importance of personalizing the recruitment process…yet when I ask them to share some of the strategies they’ve come up with to do that, most times I get, “I’m still working on that part.” It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop a plan that will explain why your school is the right place for them to spend the next four years. Also, just because a prospect has applied and/or been admitted to your school doesn’t mean that you can ease up on developing that recruiting relationship and focus extra time on new inquiries or prospects who haven’t responded to your communications.
  1. Make sure you are communicating foundational, logical facts about your school to your prospect every six to nine days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation and engagement. Our research firmly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also feel valued. Your recruiting campaign should consist of a regular flow of letters, emails, phone calls, personal contact and social media. During those communications, make it a goal to write or speak in a conversational tone as if you’re talking to a friend.
  1. The reason why many of your inquiries/prospects aren’t paying attention at the start of the recruiting process is because they don’t know who you are.  No, you don’t have to be famous, but you do have to be “known.” One of the simplest things you can do to become “known” to your recruits is be easy to talk to. It’s such a simple concept, yet it’s something that many counselors just don’t pay attention to. In the way you communicate – the text and sentence structure that you use in your letters, emails, social media campaigns and text messages – you need to make it easy for your recruit to actually reply to you. If that’s not happening with new names, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you are easy to talk to. Which means they aren’t going to ever really get to know you.
  1. Leaving voicemails that get a response. How are you going to set your message apart from all of the other messages your prospect is receiving from your competitors?  What are you really saying when you leave a prospect a voicemail?  Anything worthwhile?  Informative?  Interesting?  Or, is it the same old, “Hey, sorry I missed you, give me a call.” I want you to focus on creating curiosity by keeping your voicemail messages shorter – much shorter in fact. When you do that you avoid overloading your prospect with so much information that they lose track of what they’re supposed to do in replying to you. I’ll even go so far as to say that the less you tell them about why you’re calling them, the more likely it will be that they will call you to ask you for more information.  We’ve recommended that strategy for years, and it works.
  1. Having more productive phone conversations when they do answer. Do you know what you’re going to talk about if your recruit answers the phone tonight, tomorrow or next week? I mean other than asking them how their day went, how school’s going, or if they’ve finished their application to your school. Your prospects tell us it’s questions like those that cause them not to want to pick up the phone when it rings. We find the best kind of questions right now should not be about declaring who their top school is or anything that pressures them to give you information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the process or anything else that keeps the focus on them.
  1. You need to become the “go-to” counselor. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Your prospects (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good). There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice. Does this sound like you right now?
  1. Time management. Let’s talk specifically about multi-tasking. Often many of us forget that there’s a limit to how many things we can do at once without taking away from the quality of our work. In fact, experts estimate that when you start and stop a task it can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%. That’s why it is very important to focus on one task at a time. I understand that other things will come up throughout the day, however starting five different things and completing none of them isn’t an efficient use of your time.  Instead, at the end of the work day, take your new list and prioritize things for the next day.
  1. The parents. We all know the important role that they play in their child’s decision-making process, yet many admissions professionals still don’t establish early contact with the parents. You need to be okay with talking to mom/dad in place of your prospect. They’ll almost always offer accurate, useful information that will help you in the weeks and months ahead. More importantly, when you call them, email them and ask them questions, they will view you as someone that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter.
  1. Campus visit follow-up. What you say to your prospects in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can yield some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruiting process. Here are a couple quick examples that you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your prospect’s mindset:

What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?

What did you guys end up talking about the most on the way home?

  1. Handling objections. This will be an extremely important topic over the next couple of months. First, I want you to understand that you should want to hear objections from your prospects. Whenever I make that statement during a workshop I often get puzzled looks from some of the admissions staff. “You mean I want people to object to something about our campus or our school?”  That is correct. An objection usually indicates that your prospect is actively listening and processing the information that they’re seeing or hearing from you. Your initial reaction and re-direction is key to keeping them listening to you.
  1. Don’t try and prove to your prospects that you want them. Prove to them why they should want you.

Want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these 11 things and how you can incorporate them successfully into your recruiting strategy? Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com or give me a call at 612-386-0854.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends later this week!

The Not-So-Surprising Reason Your Recruits Prefer Text Messages to Phone CallsMonday, November 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.14.58 PMIt’s not that they “can’t” talk, its just that they have plenty of reasons to text instead.

Simple as that.

I find that’s challenging for many college coaches we get to work with closely on two fronts:

  1. There’s a resistance to switch from phone calls to text-based communication from college recruiters. Phone calls are more personal, and usually reveal more to a coach. Texting and direct messaging? It might seem disjointed and incomplete. Most coaches that I talk to just plain prefer a good-old-fashioned phone call over electronic messaging.
  2. Many college coaches don’t understand the “why” behind the recent switch in communication preferences by their prospects.

I can’t help with the first challenge. That’s up to an individual coach and his or her personal preferences in how they communicate with a recruit.

But when it comes to the “why”, there are some key reasons that drive this generation of prospects to prefer electronic communication. They actually mirror some of the communication challenges that companies are discovering with the millennials that they’ve hired (but can’t get to answer their phone calls).

If we take a look at the five primary reasons millennials don’t like talking on the phone that are outlined in the article, we’ll get some good insights into why many of your recruits just aren’t all that excited about the idea of spending time with you on the phone:

It’s distracting to your recruits. Phone calls tend to force them to stop everything, find a place to focus on a conversation, and devote time to you and only you. While you, as a college recruiter, kind of like that aspect of one-on-one phone calls, your recruit – like the millennial generation before them – often finds that a phone call distracts them from whatever they were doing before, while texting and social media direct messaging allows them to communicate with you when it’s convenient for them.

They might see it as presumptuous.  In other words, a phone call presumes that they should drop everything and talk to you. Texting and direct messaging is more collaborative, in their mind, because it allows them to think about the right way to reply to your message, and gives them time in which to do it. (By the way, you can lessen the potential negative impact of this reason if you remember these three rules we’ve told you about before, Coach).

Phone calls tend to get superfluous. Getting to the point in a phone call is sometimes a series of missteps, tangents and can involve a bigger time commitment than it needs to be. As we discuss all the time during our On-Campus Workshops we lead for college athletic department coaching staffs, that’s not how this generation of recruits tend to communicate. They like short bursts of information that are on point. Coaches that don’t get to the point right away in a phone call will risk losing the right to have future phone conversations with their prospect. Text messaging forces you to put your thoughts into words, and do it in a concise, to-the-point manner.

Phone calls can be ineffective in reaching your prospect. Especially if you end up leaving a voicemail. Trying to get this generation of prospect to return a call is challenging, to stay the least! But when you text your prospect, as the study in the article finds, it’s likely that your message will be returned within just three minutes. That kind of quick, engaged interaction has to count for something, right?

Phone calls always take longer than promised. Your prospect knows that all to well, which is why a lot of coach phone calls are immediately sent off to voicemail purgatory. In our previous research study that determined how high school prospects use social media in the recruiting process, they made it clear that one of the reasons they tended to like texting and direct messaging better than phone calls was because it was more time-efficient, and didn’t take up big chances of time trying to talk to a college coach on the phone.

I tell you all this because if you understand the why behind your prospect’s preference for texting and social media messaging over phone calls, it might be easier for you, as a serious college recruiter, to develop a strategy for using this kind of modern technology more regularly as a part of your overall recruiting strategy.

Your prospects are looking for something simple and to the point. That holds true for anything you write them in an email or a letter, and it definitely is true when you figure out what method is best for more personalized, one-on-one communication.

Get to it, Coach.

Sinister Coaching TruthsMonday, November 23rd, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Three years ago I started CoachingSportsToday. I was noticing many of  my coaching-peers struggling.

I thought, “What the heck, someone helped me through my problems. Why don’t I share what I’ve learned.

And CoachingSportsToday was born. Since then, I’ve published over 150 articles, several videos and assorted recordings.

On this special Monday, the one before Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to tell you something — THANKS. (And it doesn’t matter if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m still saying thanks.)

Specifically, I want to thank you:

  • for being here
  • for reading
  • for sharing your attention, your comments, your positive vibes

But most of all, I want to say thanks for being involved in coaching.

And to go beyond a simple thanks, I want to give you something.

This month, I’ve begun publishing a series of Kindle books about how to Hack Your Coaching. The books are intended to help readers overcome specific coaching problems with simple solutions.

The first book has just been published, and I’d like to give it to you as a gift.

No charge.

No sign-up.

No strings.

The 3 Sinister Truths of Coaching Sports Today: And What You Can Do About Them is about the little secrets we are never told, how they can mess up our coaching, and how we can overcome them.

And there’s no cost — if you download it within the next two days. But the price goes up Tuesday, at midnight. Really, really.

Action You Can (and I hope you do) Take

I hope you get my gift copy. I hope you read it. I hope you find a solution in it that addresses an issue with your coaching. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I can hope, right?

So, here’s what you need to do:

  • First, go here, and download the book.
  • Second, read it. Its a fast read. You can finish it in less than an hour.
  • Third, the book has actions steps you can take. Take the one(s) that can help you.
  • Fourth, after you read it, if you have comments or suggestions, tell me. (And if you are so inclined to leave a review at Amazon that would be a great Thanksgiving gift for me.)

So there you have it. Thanks, and hope this next week finds you enjoying your family, friends, yourself, and especially your coaching.

– Mike

NCRC Highlights and College Coach TestimonialsWednesday, November 18th, 2015

 

Click here for all of the details on attending the 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana this coming June 10-12, 2016

Be a Speaker at NCRC 2016Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Indianapolis NCRC2016

We’re looking for coaches, authors and experts to be speakers at this Summer’s upcoming 2016 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

We’ll gather a few hundred smart, motivated college coaches in Indianapolis this June 10-12, 2016, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

Past conferences have seen dozens of coaches lend their expertise to the content at previous NCRC events, and we want you to speak at this year’s conference. You don’t have to be a professional speaker, or previous experience presenting ideas in front of an audience. What you do need to bring is a willingness to share your ideas that have worked for your program.

As a coach speaker, we will pay your conference registration fee and give you access to our limited number of heavily discounted block of hotel rooms reserved for our presenters. In addition, your talk will be available to college athletic departments around the country, increasing your professional profile. Many of our past speakers have used their speeches as part of their application process for new job opportunities, with great results.

If you are an author or expert in your field? Join past speakers who have contributed their time, talents and expertise to this appreciative group of college athletic leaders. NCRC does not compensate for presenters or pay speaker fees, but we will make space available to conduct business and sell your products or services to this influential group of leaders. Past speakers who have come to speak at NCRC have included Ari Fleischer (former White House press secretary), Roy Firestone (entertainer and ESPN journalist), Buddy Hobart (best selling author and speaker), Dan Wolken (USA Today college sports journalist), John Brubaker (former coach and best selling author), Charlie Adams (speaker and author), and Paul Biancardi (former basketball coach and ESPN recruiting analyst), along with dozens of other experts over the years.

To get more information, or to propose a topic that you would like to speak about, contact Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com.

We hope to see you at NCRC 2016 in June!

Overcoming Your Prospects’ Recruiting BiasTuesday, November 17th, 2015

coffeeby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you read last week’s newsletter article on personalization as an enrollment tool, or you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you know I’m quite fond of Starbucks coffee.

I started drinking it in my early 20’s and haven’t looked back. One day I’ll get a latte, the next a mocha. No matter the location, it’s always made the way I want it. Over the years their stores have also become my mobile offices. Comfy couches, free Wi-Fi, and now a pay ahead option.

In other words, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising and branding that Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe (McDonalds) and the rest have invested in hasn’t convinced me to switch allegiances.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the best, and in turn, I tune out the others’ advertising messages. I know what I want and that’s that. I have an emotional bias towards Starbucks.

We all have irrational biases. For some it’s politics. For others it might be the neighborhood that they live in. Each of us has decided that certain things are right and wrong for us.

The exact same reason I don’t seriously consider switching coffee brands may be the reason many of your prospects don’t seriously consider you and your institution. It’s a principle called confirmation bias, and it’s an important area of study for our team here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies as we map out recruitment strategies and communication plans for our clients.

Confirmation bias happens when we only pay attention to the information or data that affirms our decision or beliefs. Once we have formed a view, we embrace information that confirms that view while ignoring or rejecting information that casts doubt on it. Even though evidence may overwhelmingly contradict our position, we hold tenaciously to our preferred belief. In my case, it may be irrational love for Starbucks coffee.  For you it could be affecting your prospect’s ability to look logically at the opportunity your school offers him or her.

Our research shows more and more prospective students are coming into a recruiting conversation with an existing bias either for your school or against it…and some of it is irrational:

  • They don’t want to consider you as a private college because they’ve seen the price tag, and those around them have told them that there’s just no way it can be made affordable.
  • Your prospect doesn’t want to visit campus because they aren’t used to cold winters, so of course they’d be unhappy going to school in your town…and every time they see cold weather forecasted for your region of the country, it confirms that notion.
  • Your prospect has grown up close to campus, so they think they know everything about your school. They want college to be an adventure for them, and they’ve decided that will not be possible if they stay close to home.

Sound familiar? Right now, confirmation bias – and the negative effects it carries – is creating more hurdles for you in the recruitment process.  It’s a powerful psychological aspect of our decision making, albeit illogical.

So, what are you and your admissions colleagues doing to combat that?  How are you getting your prospects and their increasingly influential parents to look at things in a different way?

For starters, I need you to understand that it’s going to take some time to successfully attack a bias. If you think it can be done in one email or one letter, you’re mistaken. It has to be an ongoing process because you’re essentially going to show and prove to your prospect and/or their parents, why their way of thinking is in fact wrong.

Understand that your prospect has probably already decided what they want and don’t want in a college. That might be a good thing for you, or it could be the reason that they haven’t replied to your initial emails.  Once you agree that most of your prospects come into a conversation with preconceived biases and ideas, I believe it changes the way you construct a recruiting message. The student comes in thinking they know what they want. You then need to approach this situation patiently and also say to them, “I know you feel this way, but I think you might want to take a look at this over here and here’s why.” Again, understand you’re going to be suggesting that they’re wrong. That’s okay. You’re just going to have to tell them what they need to do differently and how they’re going to have to think differently. Some examples might include: Here’s why you should want to stay close to home for college. Here’s how a private college can be made affordable. Here’s why you shouldn’t worry so much about school rankings when you make your decision.

They aren’t looking for logic right away.  They’re looking for an emotional reason to have a conversation with you.  Have you ever asked yourself why a prospect doesn’t respond to you when you send out a logical, factual outline of what your school offers, the successful history of recent graduates, and the outstanding community that your students enjoy?  The answer is because they’ve already decided that their original choice is the smartest one for them.  I’ve decided that Starbucks is the right coffee for me based on nothing more than the fact that I’ve drunk it for years and I like the personalized service and look/feel of their stores. Similarly, your prospect is basing his or her initial decision on whether to communicate with you or not on simplistic, illogical reasons.  So don’t try to sell them on the logic behind choosing you right away. Instead, work on creating an emotional connection with them…and it can’t just be a list of bullet points about your school.

Discover what makes them happy.  Why have they decided that a bigger/smaller college or another location is right for them?  What are they assuming that makes them feel this way?  You need to ask these kinds of questions early on and then come up with a list of wants. Then you can start to make the emotional case that experiencing something different is actually a great thing. Only after those basic ideas are accepted as possibilities can you move on to the logical argument that your school is the best option for them.

Never underestimate the power of consistency.  As I said earlier, this strategy doesn’t take place over one or two emails, or in one long phone conversation. It may take weeks to create that emotional connection.  Consistent, long term communication with your prospect using the rule that we talk about during our on-campus workshops is key. That research-based rule says that most prospects want a message every six to nine days that tells them here’s why you should want to join our student body. Your prospects need that consistency, and they need it talked about in a personalized way. Doing so makes it easy to reply back and engage in conversation.

Many admissions professionals won’t attack biases for the simple fact that success isn’t instantaneous. Here’s the thing though: A lot of biases are based on bad information. If you prepare an effective recruiting communications plan and execute it, you can change the mindset of your prospects.

Questions about any of this?  Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com Our team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies is here to help!

Alone And Coaching SportsMonday, November 16th, 2015

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

There is a grand paradox in coaching.

Y’see, the nature of coaching is that we are surrounded by people.

Yet the paradox of coaching is we can feel as isolated as that poor fellow stranded on Mars.

That isolation comes in three flavors.

Onliness is the feeling of isolation because what we do is unique.

No one else is doing exactly what you are doing. Of course, there are millions of coaches. Yet not one of them is

  • coaching your team
  • in your location
  • with your life

You are unique in who you are, how you think, and how you coach.

Do remember when you saw the potential in that struggling athlete, that no one else saw? You used your unique insight. That is onliness.

Loneliness is the isolation one feels due to the nature of leading.

A decision that didn’t work, disciplining a team member, calling for fatiguing workouts — those separate us from others. Because you lead, that often means you are alone. I call it the insane loneliness of coaching sports.

Do you remember Pete Carroll, the moment after the play in the Super Bowl failed? Even though he was in front of millions of eyes and surrounded by his team, he was alone. That is loneliness.

Solitude is a different form of isolation.

We often need solitude when it is time to think, to reflect, to rejuvenate.

Barbara de Angelis said, “Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” Could the same can be said of coaches? I think so.

Remember the time you had to get away from the noise and business of coaching? Take a break to clear your head? That is solitude.

Action You Can (and should) Take

Bouts of isolation are part of coaching. It can be troubling if the isolation is continuous, overwhelming, depressing.

Ask yourself these questions for insight if your isolation is too heavy:

  • How often do I laugh as a coach?
  • When was the last time I was told “nice job”?
  • How often do I collaborate?
  • Do I feel “We got this” more than “I got this”?
  • Do I need people to help me, or am I good?
  • Am I coaching from a place of fear, or from joy?

Those questions are helpful. Work through them and you’ll see being alone differently. Want some help?

Remember, you are not really alone (and you are amazing). And if you know of a coach who is struggling you can help them not be so alone — send them this, or prompt them to join us by clicking here.

Coach well, be strong, we need you!

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