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Are Undecided Students Giving You These Buying Signals?Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s crunch time for college admissions. Schools all over the country are entering the final weeks of battle for this next class of students.

And right now I’m working a streak here in the office. Each of the past 17 days I’ve received at least one phone call, email, or text from an Admission Counselor or Director with a specific student recruitment scenario question. If you’ve got a head-scratcher and you want some help/feedback, feel free to email me…and in case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be a client of ours to do so. If you’re willing to ask, I’m willing to listen.

What continues to surprise me, particularly with experienced counselors (3 or more years), is how few are able to consistently read fairly clear “buying signals” from their undecideds. Furthermore, I find that way too many counselors aren’t actively looking for those signals. Instead they take the, “they’ll tell me when they’re ready” approach.

When a prospect starts to seriously consider your school, they probably won’t come right out and tell you directly. In fact, I’d argue that a lot of your prospects might not even realize how interested they are. Instead, most prospects, especially those admitted but undecided ones, will start to create “buying signals” in the form of questions or statements.

I want you to be able to pick up on those signals as early as possible, and today I’m going to teach you how.

With years of research data collected on how prospects make their final decision, Dan (Tudor) and I have identified several reliable signals that are given by a prospect who is either very interested in your school or ready to commit/deposit.

Before I share that information with you, I want to reiterate the importance of being an active listener in your day-to-day conversations. For you to grow as an admissions professional, listening is a skill you should do your best to master. The better listener you become, the easier it will be to spot “buying signals.”

Okay, here are some of those reliable signals:

  1. They ask questions about cost or your financial aid processes. That could be direct questions about the tuition price or COA of your school, how they would go about making payments, or even comments wondering how they are going to afford the cost. Each one of those questions and comments revolve around the fact that they are actively trying to figure out how they can afford to go to your school.  Students who aren’t serious about you will rarely, if ever, bring up cost.  Students trying to picture themselves at your school will always bring up cost.
  2. They ask the same question multiple times or in multiple ways. This is a strong signal that they are ready to make a decision, and you’re the leader in the clubhouse or at worst a finalist. If they ask you to repeat something that they told you earlier, or if a subject comes up a second or third time during your conversations with them, you should know that they are really, really interested in you. And if it’s an undecided senior or transfer student, you should strongly consider “asking for the sale.”
  3. They give you objections. My stance on objections is simple – They’re a good thing, and they’re something you should want a prospect or parent to reveal to you. When a prospect brings up an objection it’s their way of telling you they’re interested, but they need more information or they need things explained a different way. Overcoming objections is one of the biggest challenges in student recruitment. The key to remember is that the only person who can truly overcome the objection is the prospect or parent. Your job is to create an opportunity for this to occur through effective questioning and subsequent problem solving. If you can successfully do that, your yield rate will improve immensely.
  4. They ask specific questions about an aspect of your school. These questions are fairly rare, so when you get one I would recommend you accelerate the recruitment process. It might be a question like, “What percentage of your business school graduates are accepted into a Masters program?” Or, it could be a “how do I” question like, “How do I sign up for the new suite-style dorms that just got built?” Students rarely ask positive questions like those unless they’re extremely interested in your school. And any question that starts with “how do I” is also important.
  5. They ask to see something on campus again during their visit. “Can I go check out the student union again?” Or, “Can my parents go back and see the bookstore?” Prospects who aren’t sure or aren’t seriously picturing themselves at your school will look for the first chance they get to call it a day and leave your campus.
  6. They give you verbal “buying signals.” Parents are really good at this.  During an admitted student day, campus visit, or phone conversation, listen for comments like “Wow, I didn’t know that”.  Or, “Great, that’s what I thought.”  Statements like those are signs that they are engaged mentally with what you’re saying and what they’re seeing.

The next step once you get one or more of these “buying signals” is to act on the signals the right way, and at the right time. That action plan should include either what I’ve referred to before as a “trial close,” or if you get a strong “buying signal,” you should ask for their commitment. If you or your colleagues need help developing an action plan, let’s start a conversation together.

Once you become a pro at recognizing “buying signals” you’ll be two steps ahead of your competition.

Have a great week, and please take 2 minutes to complete my three-question newsletter survey if you haven’t already. It will help me, help you. Thanks!

Episode 20: Dr. Mike Davenport on College Coaching Life PhilosophiesTuesday, March 28th, 2017

Do you feel like you are a college coach who has a good, core coaching life philosophy?

Dr. Mike Davenport spent 35 years in college coaching and recruiting as one of the most respected rowing coaches in the country. He is also a well known leader, thinker and trainer, and has always been a great resource for college coaches of all ages, all division levels, and all sports, throughout his career.

He spent 26 years as the Head Rowing Coach at Washington College, and is now the Director of Educational Assets for U.S. Rowing, that sport’s governing body. He was also a frequent contributor to Dan Tudor’s ‘College Recruiting Weekly’ newsletter every Tuesday, and was the publisher of CoachingSportsToday.com, which offered fantastic advice and direction for coaches on how to be better at what they do.

In this episode, he shares his nearly four decades of coaching wisdom with our host, Dan Tudor, as we explore the right philosophies that can build a long, successful career as a college coach.



Is the internet making us dumb?Monday, March 27th, 2017

Neal Cook, Front Rush

The internet is a beautiful thing. But is it making us smarter?

Kabir Sehgal, author and former vice-president of J.P. Morgan doesn’t believe so, saying ‘“While the Internet gives us access to more information than before, paradoxically, we are becoming dimmer and more superficial as a people.”

One of his reasonings is that by reading articles online, which is commonly done by searching, clicking, quickly scanning, being distracted by the ads, pictures and hyperlinks, we are only retaining our “working memory,” and not our “long-term memory.” The long-term memory is where we store “schemas” that help us organize our thoughts and concepts.

So, by reading an article online, our mind doesn’t take in the full meaning and point of the article. Therefore, it doesn’t connect the information learned to our previous memories/thoughts. You could argue that reading online is a waste of time.

Reading a book on the other hand, since you are focused and not as stimulated, can lead to retaining longer-term memory.

From first-hand experience, this is true. I read an average of 15 articles a week, but, when a week later I try to recall the purpose or argument of an article to a friend, I’m at a loss for words as to the actual point of the article.

A typical article I read online follows this timeline:

Hmm..this article sounds fascinating…let me click on it and read it

Starts reading for 10 seconds

Eyes focus on the banner ad on the top of the page

Continue reading

See a reference link in the article, click on that link, skim it, click back to the original article

Continue reading

My iMessage sound goes off, even if I don’t want to read it, my mind is already distracted

I don’t check my iMessage, but continue reading

My New Mail sound goes off, again, I don’t read it, but I’m distracted

Resume reading

Finish the article

Reflect on what I read for about 3 seconds

Then check my iMessage and Mail and move on to the next “thing” in my life

No wonder I can’t recall the fundamental point behind that article to my friend. I vaguely remember the summary of the reading.

But when I read a book, I’m immersed in that book. It has 100% of my attention and focus. It sticks with me, and I can recall quickly what the book was trying to convey.

So, how can you and I become smarter when reading articles online?

I came up with these three tips. I’d love to hear if you have any tips or how you deal with reading online.

  1. Only read articles during a particular time of the day

Next week I’ll share with you the app I use to save all my articles to read at a later date in a clean, ad-less format. But for starters, when you see something interesting online DON’T READ IT RIGHT AWAY. Don’t click on it, however tempting it may be. Instead, only commit to reading articles online during a certain period of the day (i.e., an hour after breakfast, a half hour during lunch, after dinner). By doing so, your brain is not skimming and forgetting what you are reading multiple times a day.

  1. Turn off wifi when reading an article online

Once your article fully loads, turn off your wifi or put your computer/phone on “airplane mode.” You’ll still be able to read the entire article, but you won’t be distracted by text messages, annoying sounds, notifications, and even if you are tempted to click on another link/picture, it won’t work when you do so.

  1. For every article you read – reflect for 60 seconds

There are so, so many articles/studies that show the immense benefits of reflecting multiple times a day. After you finish an article, think about that article. Ask questions. Do you agree with the author? Did you learn something new? Does this change your beliefs? Are you more interested in this subject? Was it worth your time? Do you feel smarter after reading? Or dumber?

Think about it. Remember it. And it will stick in your long-term memory so you can recall that information when it’s needed (or when you get the chance to play Jeopardy).

Next week I’ll share with your the app I use to store articles I want to read.

If this article made your dumber, I apologize!!!

Two Student Recruitment SecretsTuesday, March 21st, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When was the last time you sat down either by yourself, with your admissions colleagues, or with your school’s marketing team and really took a hard look at the recruitment communications that you’re sending out? It’s an important question, and if you haven’t done it lately, and by lately I mean sometime in the past 8 to 12 months, I strongly recommend you schedule some time to at least start a conversation about this topic ASAP. In today’s recruiting environment you just can’t afford not to.

During our ongoing research with students across the country we ask them to give us feedback about the communications they received during the college search process:

  • “I suppose I would say that you should just be friendly. College students are nervous and afraid, so a kind voice is usually more than enough to get the ball rolling.”
  • “Casual e-mails from the counselors make the process feel so much nicer.”
  • “It’s nice when the emails and letters are even slightly personal as opposed to the automatic ones colleges send out.”
  • “We get hundreds of emails during senior year. Make it shorter and actually interesting because everything sounds the same and we get distracted easily.”

Each of those responses echoes sentiments that we read quite frequently. This generation of students thinks that what you’re sending them isn’t personalized, is full of boring content, is way too professional and academic sounding in most cases, and is too long. On top of that, most are also convinced that you’re recycling word for word your letters and emails year after year after year. Again, this isn’t me telling you this, this is what your clientele is saying. Public university or private college, the feedback is the same.

If you’re reading this and thinking that what I’m talking about is someone else’s responsibility at your school and not yours, I’m here to tell you it’s time to change your mindset. Schools that are increasing enrollment and yield understand that recruitment is always a team effort!

So, where should you start? Begin by asking this simple question – “Why are we sending what we’re sending, and what’s the goal?” A lot of colleges do a great job of informing or storytelling. The problem is that’s only part of an effective strategy…and that brings me to the first secret I want to share with you today. It’s not about just informing; it’s about informing and engaging. You should want to know what each person receiving that email, letter, or postcard from you thinks about the information in it because there’s massive value in knowing that!

Now I’m not about to tell you that creating consistent engagement in your communications is simple to do because it’s not. Crafting engaging messages that are personal yet distributed to the masses is a strategic process that involves a massive amount of time and a ton of hard work. That’s why our team at TCS handles that responsibility for all of our clients.   It makes the day-to-day work in those admissions offices a lot more manageable and less stressful.

On to secret number two. Over the years our team of experts at TCS has learned to forget the rules – the writing rules that is. Believe it or not, most of those writing and grammar rules so many of us learned over the years are preventing many college admissions professionals from truly connecting with this current class of prospective students.

Instead of worrying about the writing rules you learned in high school and college, I want you to think, “If I were in a room with my best friend, a family friend, or the son/daughter of that friend and I needed to get their attention, engage them, and present the reasons why they should be excited about this school – what would I say to them?” Then let the conversation flow naturally out of your fingers to the keyboard or to your pen as if you were talking to them one-on-one. Be less formal and more conversational. That’s the key.

For some of you reading this article, the strategy of forgetting the writing rules will be hard…I mean really hard to the point where it might even be a non-starter because you’re afraid the end result will be tacky or unprofessional. I get it. Often times when I’m talking with a new client of ours those same concerns come up. They receive their first set of custom recruitment messages from us with a different tone, verbiage, and calls to action than they’re used to and it causes them to worry. About a month or two later after sticking with the plan, I’ll get an email or call from that Admissions Director or VP telling me the engagement/open rate is higher than ever before and the messaging is creating conversations the team never had before.

The reason why this approach works, and why you should take these two secrets and run with them, is because as I said earlier, this is what your clientele wants from you. They’ve told us, and I’m telling/reminding you. Plus, when you give them something they want and need, it creates comfort. And comfort leads to more back-and-forth conversations that will give you a competitive edge in the student recruitment arena.

If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to hear what you thought of it on Twitter, or my LinkedIn page. Thanks for your time and attention today!

Warning: This Article Contains Cat VideosMonday, March 20th, 2017

IMG_2590 (1)Josh DiCristo, Front Rush

I was supposed to have this post finished, yesterday. Then I got busy and this happened and then that happened and then I had free time but then YouTube happened. Then I thought that it would be done this morning. Now, as I write this, it’s about 2 in the afternoon. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” and Oscar Wilde once wrote, “I never put off ‘til tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after”. Both John Lennon and Oscar Wilde dealt with setbacks and both dealt with a common weakness that affects all of us at one point or another – procrastination. But Lennon and Wilde had one more thing in common – their birthday. No, I’m just kidding, but how crazy would that be? Neither of them existed in the age of the internet.

The internet is undeniably an incredible tool that has reshaped the world and provided us access to information and connectivity that previous generations could only dream of. It’s streamlined the entire recruitment process, reduced all of the various papers and schedules coaches would normally have to manage, and with the utilization of algorithms, recruits can find you and vice versa at near-ridiculous speeds.

But also, cat videos. And man, are cat videos great.

So with YouTube and BuzzFeed and Netflix and email, how do you stay focused?  An easy answer is to stay off the internet but let’s say, for sake of argument, that your job requires you to be online for the purposes of college recruiting. As we pointed out earlier – the internet sure has it’s upsides in that realm. So how do you stay focused in your day-to-day?

First and foremost, the easiest thing to do is to remove notifications from sites like Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. Though it might be important to check those sites throughout the day for your work, do you get a notification every time something new pops up at your job? Maybe sometimes, but odds are not all the time. So why should you be notified anytime someone follows you or tags you in a new post? If those websites go on the rotation of every other work-related website that you check, you’ll find yourself going back to it less and less throughout the day.

Certain browsers also have free apps that can help you manage your time better online. One such app (or “extension” as apps are known in Google Chrome), is StayFocusd. StayFocusd is available on multiple browsers and allows you to block certain time-draining websites on your computer for certain periods of time throughout the day. There are tons of apps out there that do this – a quick google search and you can find the right one that fits you!

However, the main problem with these apps is that they work great for the first few days but after a week or so you might find yourself logging into the settings to remove websites you had previously blocked. Most of these apps don’t allow you to remove websites off your blocked list for a few hours (for obvious reasons) but where there’s a will there’s a way and people will always find ways around it. If you want to take the “nuclear” option you can remove the website from any browser on your computer entirely. Have someone add the website to your host file in a specific way and it’ll be gone until they remove it from the list themselves.

If blocking websites isn’t your thing, you can set frequent Google Calendar reminders or iCal reminders on days that you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of a computer. At the very least, even if you ignore them, you have to close out of each notification that appears on your desktop. In your brain, it causes you to take a neurological break from whatever you’re doing (gotta love those cat videos) which might just be enough to snap you back into productivity.

Another option is to turn on airplane mode when you’re working. This won’t work in all cases because sometimes you absolutely need the internet. But in some cases, the app you’re working with might just have the ability to sync data “when connected”. So stay on your desktop or device as long as you need, without an internet connection. The internet is only two clicks away and if you’re only connecting to save your data, you’re getting all of the benefits of working online without the distractions.

So there are lots of ways to stay focused, even when your job requires you to be on your computer or on the internet. The paradox is to learn about them, you have to take a trip to Google which will frequently leave you with the answer, but not before giving you a parting gift of more distraction. So here’s a few tips courtesy of us, and with minimal cat video interruption.

P.S. It turns out that John Lennon and Oscar Wilde’s birthdays and date of death were both within eight days of each other. Who knew? You can thank the internet for that one, too.

Episode 19: Dan Tudor & Jeremy Tiers On The Problem With Most Campus ToursTuesday, March 14th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 9.18.57 AMFor the Tudor family, it’s that time of year:

Dan has started taking his daughter to visit colleges. She’s a high school Junior who is starting her search, like hundreds of thousands of other families around the country.

On a recent visit to a college, Dan observed some common problems that most colleges experience when it comes to staging campus tours. It’s the same problem that many coaches who lead their own campus tours sometimes have, as well.

The problem? Most tours look, sound and feel the same as all the other college tours they’ve gone on (and will go on in the future). The result can be a lack of excitement about a particular school or program, and the family heading back to square one when it comes to trying to find a college perfect for their son or daughter.

In addition to Dan’s commentary and observations, we talk to Jeremy Tiers, Admissions Director for us here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies. He has great advice for college coaches and admissions professionals if they’re looking to improve their results when they bring a prospect on campus, and what they should consider adding to make the tour more effective.



Is It Time to Change Your Approach?Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

nacac16jtby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 


How did the past 7 days go for you? For me they were even busier than I anticipated…some last minute on-campus admissions staff training, prepping for a couple NACAC affiliate conferences, recording a podcast episode, and a ton of phone call strategy sessions with clients and non-clients. It was a full 7-day work week, and a really fun and rewarding one at that.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through my notes and contemplating what I wanted to write about and help you with this week, I got an unscheduled phone call from a first year admission counselor at a client school. When I hit the red, call-end button on my iPhone, I knew exactly what we needed to discuss today. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s a subject that, while uncomfortable for many, is something that I believe is worthy of the next 5 minutes of your time if you’ll give it to me. Plus, when I’ve written about personal growth and staff development in the past, many readers of this newsletter have told me it really helped them/their team take a step back and evaluate. I’m hoping today’s article will do the same because this is something that stalls the growth process in all of us.

The gist of that conversation with the admission counselor was this – He wanted to know how to go about asking colleagues for help with something without sounding like an idiot (his words).

Have you ever had that same feeling at work, with friends, or at home? Asking for help from colleagues, friends, your spouse, your parents, or maybe even your kids is something that a lot of us have trouble doing.

Too many people have a defensive wall up about asking for help. Even worse, others believe they don’t have trouble asking for help when they really do. Let me make my feelings clear in case you’re a first time reader or you haven’t read my articles in a while. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Why is everyone so scared? Here are some reasons I hear frequently during phone calls and 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our on-campus training workshop:

  • I don’t want to look stupid
  • The other person will think I’m selfish
  • I’ll owe the other person something
  • I’m a leader and my team will think I can’t do my job
  • I don’t want people to know how bad the situation is
  • I’ll be giving up all control
  • I should know how to do this project or handle this situation
  • People will think I’m lazy and just don’t want to put in the work
  • I don’t want the perception to be that I’m struggling or failing
  • I’m worried that the person I need to ask for help will screw everything up, make the situation worse, or get more credit than they deserve (I hear this one a lot from coaches about admissions and admissions about coaches)

Raise your hand if any of those sound familiar. (My hand is up in case you were wondering).

Regardless of the reason(s) behind why we don’t ask for the help we need, the bottom line is we have to get past that. Nobody, and I mean nobody who is a successful person in Higher Education or any other profession got where they are alone.

Asking for help is a smart strategy, especially if it’s help with something that isn’t your strong suit. To do that, though, you have to be self aware and honest with yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Can you admit what yours are and aren’t?

I would also add that you have to know which colleagues to ask for help in a specific situation (i.e. the right person for the job), and you need to frame your “ask” properly.

The big danger when you don’t ask for help is that stalling can cause the situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when your energy and focus are needed elsewhere.

How often you ask is going to depend on a number of factors. I definitely don’t want you to take the easy way out and ask every time you stumble. I do, however, want you to become self aware enough to know when help is needed.

So ask a colleague, a friend, a family member, or I’m reminding you that you can ask me…just please be willing to ask somebody the next time you need help.

Do you agree with me? Either way I’d love to hear what you think about this important subject! You can email me or connect with me right now on social media (icons are at the top of this article).




The Habit of Drinking Water Will Make You a More Effective CoachMonday, March 13th, 2017

Mandy Green, Busy.Coach

As coaches, we get paid for the results and the value we bring to our teams and programs we work for, not for the time we put in.  I don’t believe our Athletic Directors really care how many hours we work as long as we are winning, graduating our players, creating a good experience, and don’t break rules doing so.  

Your coaching and recruiting performance throughout each day and week, and ultimately being able to accomplish your big goals for the year personally, with recruiting, and with your team, will be predicated on how you better manage yourself, your time, your decisions, and energy during the day.

That is where habits will come in.  A Duke University study says that at least 45 percent of our waking behavior is habitual. Although we’d like to think we’re in charge, it turns out that we’re not so much controlling how we act with our conscious mind as we are being driven by our subconscious or unconscious mind. It’s amazing; also, it’s a little disturbing.

We all know that habits can either help or hurt your success in life. Bad habits can fester and grow into a lifestyle that takes you away from the things you want to do—and Good habits can help you create a life that’s full of action and accomplishment.

Habits are all about taking small, smart choices consistently over time to create a radical difference in your life.

To build an effective new habit, you need three essential components: a trigger, a micro-habit, and a reward.

  • A trigger – A behavior trigger is something that cues you to do something, it’s the first falling domino that sets you into motion.  
  • The routine – the actual thing, or sequence of steps, you do when you get triggered.  
  • The reward – the pleasurable thing you get at the end of your habit. Without the reward, your ritual cannot last because it becomes just another “to do” on your already busy schedule.


I just created a new Busy Coach 30 Day Habit Challenge for coaches.  I chose drinking water when you first wake up in the morning as the first habit to develop.  

Why water you may ask?  It is pretty simple.  

Research has found that drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning has these 9 potential health benefits:

  1. It immediately helps rehydrate the body.
  2. It can improve your metabolism.
  3. It helps fuel your brain.
  4. It helps to increase your level of alertness.
  5. It can help alleviate heartburn and Indigestion.
  6. It can prevent kidney stones.  
  7. It can stop a headache in its tracks.
  8. It helps regulate digestion.
  9. It can keep you from getting sick by heling to flush toxins from your body.

In my productivity challenge, I teach you 8 habits.  Today I am going to share with you how I get you to establish drinking water first thing in the morning as a habit.  

Trigger #1: Wake up first thing in the morning.

Habit: Drink a 16oz. glass of water.

Reward: Increased energy.

Drinking water is one of the very first things you should do as soon as you wake up. Our bodies need proper hydration to perform at our absolute best. Water is a fundamental aspect of high performance.  Dehydration is the number one performance killer for athletes. 80% of headaches are due to being dehydrated.  More times than not, when you are feeling sluggish or tired, you are dehydrated.  

You want to start hydrating as soon as possible when you wake up. I really suggest within the first 10 minutes or so start drinking water, about half a liter or so, which is about 16 fluid ounces. It really signals to your body and to your organs to wake up, to get going and to get ready to really perform at a high level.

Have a glass sitting on your night stand or have it waiting for you in the kitchen.  Drink water first thing and watch what happens to your energy.

You can increase your production and effectiveness as a coach just by using the trigger of getting out of your bed and getting into the habit of drinking a glass of water in the morning.  It is so simple and such a small thing but it is extremely effective.  If you are interested in checking out my challenge, click here.

If you want other productivity resources, go to www.busy.coach.

Have a great week.

Mandy Green  

Episode 18: Jim Harshaw, Jr. On College Coaching Success Through FailureTuesday, March 7th, 2017

Are you a success, Coach?

If you consider yourself to be, I’ll bet that you count some of your past failures as your greatest learning events.

But what about the coach who doesn’t look at “failure” as a positive? Is there a way to look back on past struggles and turn them into future victories, both personally and professionally?

Jim Harshaw, Jr. is our guest on this episode of College Recruiting Weekly, and he talks about his lifelong focus on learning from failure. He consults with business leaders, coaches and colleges around the country, teaching them how to use failure to their benefit.

In this episode, you’ll hear him talk about lessons coaches (and their teams) need to learn in order to be a success in the long term.



Student Recruitment TiebreakersTuesday, March 7th, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s that time of year again…you know, the time when students take to social media and share how stressed and confused they are about making a college decision. One student even joked on Twitter this past weekend, “I give up I think I’ll make my college decision based on who has the better snapchat filters”…at least I think she was joking.

I know, playing the waiting game isn’t much fun for you these days. You’ve spent months, or maybe more than a year putting time and effort into recruiting all your students. Now the question becomes will those students, many of whom have been bombarded with information and sales pitches from other colleges besides yours, ultimately pick one of those schools for a less than logical reason?

Hopefully at this point in the process you and your colleagues have a good feel for how your undecided students will make their college decision. I talked about that in last week’s newsletter, and if you’re a first time reader, you missed that article, or you just want a refresher, go ahead and click this link.

These “recruiting tie-breakers”, as Dan (Tudor) and I have come to call them, can be something insignificant to you as an admissions professional but important in the eyes of your prospect.  With so many colleges and universities still looking and sounding the same, a lot of your prospects will break the tie in their minds by choosing something that appeals directly to them personally.

Before I jump into some things that will increase your school’s chances of winning those tiebreaker situations, I want to remind you what students continue to tell us when we do focus group research ahead of coming to a campus and leading a training workshop.

When asked to rate 15 different factors in terms of how they influenced a student to choose their college over the competition, the 2 most important factors continue to be:

  • The “feel” of campus
  • How the admissions staff treated me throughout the process

Now that you’re armed with that knowledge, here are two things that a large majority of students tell us they need if the recruiting tie is going to be broken in your favor:

  1. Emotional connections. As I’ve told you many times before, your prospects trust their feelings as they make their decision about your college or university. Those are the feelings you create through your recruitment communications, the recruiting relationship you develop (or don’t develop) with them and their family throughout the process, and the feelings they get when they visit your campus. How are you and your colleagues capturing their emotions and creating emotional connections between them and your campus community (students, professors, other staff)? Those emotional connections create a feeling of comfort, they create trust, and they offer a sense of acceptance and belonging which is what just about every single student is scared they won’t be able to find.
  2. A clear understanding of WHY your college is better than what they could get somewhere else. When I say “somewhere else”, that means everything from another 4-year institution, to a community college, to an alternate life course that doesn’t include college. If I asked you right now to make a clear case that what you offer at your school is far and away superior to those other options (outside of just saying you’re a cheaper option versus other colleges), could you? If not, that’s a major problem! Value can be communicated logically and emotionally, and you need to do both. I would also add that you won’t be able to present the same case to every single student. Sure, there will be common threads, but part of executing this point correctly is having a clear understanding of the wants, needs, and fears of your prospect and his or her family.

You may have noticed I didn’t mention affordability. That doesn’t mean price (or location as another example) isn’t important and won’t in some cases be the biggest tiebreaker for a student/family. But, and this is a big but, in a number of those cases where a family says they need you to increase your aid, they’re simply employing a negotiating tactic. I’m telling you, people are continuing to pay more when the value is there for them – Starbucks, Beats, Nike, Mercedes, Apple, and on and on I could go. Being able to sell the idea that your net price is higher than a competitor and that it’s actually worth the extra investment to be at your school is a recruiting skill that separates great recruiters from average recruiters.

Earlier in this article I touched on the focus group research we do with regards to factors that influence a prospect’s final decision. One of those 15 factors we list is affordability, and over the last two and half years its average finish on our surveys (regardless of a school’s location or public vs. private) is that 4-6 range.

Again, I’m not saying things like your location or price aren’t vital in the decision making process.  Different students have different wants and needs. The real challenge for you is to create compelling reasons for a prospect to see clearly that you are his or her top choice before it gets to the tiebreakers.

If you found today’s article helpful, go ahead and forward it on to a colleague. That way both of you can grow and win!

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