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Before Fall Travel Starts, Read ThisTuesday, August 28th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

As you know, I travel a lot, especially June thru September. In fact, I’m currently in the middle of trip number eight this month, writing this on a layover in Minneapolis, heading to lead a staff training workshop the next two days.

The most popular topic among admissions counselors this month during the 1-on-1 meetings that go along with each workshop I lead has been fall travel. Everybody is either currently planning it or just finished. From analyzing past travel data, to the value of high school visits, to new ideas for college fairs, counselors have been asking me for advice on these things and more.

Whether it’s college fairs or high school visits, getting (and then keeping) the attention of prospective students continues to be a challenge for many in 2018. Why is that? I would argue there are two big factors at play – fear on the part of students, and most college reps continue to take the same approach and have the same “elevator pitch.”

The good news is there are all kinds of strategies out there that can change the outcome and help you increase engagement levels. One of the most effective that I continue to recommend is asking an unexpected question. By unexpected I mean something that other counselors aren’t asking. It could be related to pop culture, or it could be something that you know is on the minds of many students as they conduct their college search. The question could be serious or funny. Either way it will have nothing to do with your school.

Here are a few quick examples:

  • “What scares you the most about your college search?”
  • “How the heck can a private college be affordable?”
  • “Have you ever wondered why colleges make you fill out so many forms?”
  • “What do you need help with right now?”
  • “Ninja or PewDiePie?”
  • “Fortnite or League of Legends?”

Let me also add that if you’re going to use references to pop culture (like I did in the last two examples above) make sure you do your homework first if you’re not familiar with what you’re asking, and make sure you know your audience…you probably wouldn’t ask those last two examples to very many teenage girls.

The biggest benefit to asking an unexpected question (other than getting a prospect to stop and actually have a conversation with you) is that you’ll sound smarter and more interested in the student than a lot of other counselors who ask the same “yes, no” vanilla questions…or choose to dive right into the facts/figures of their school.

Depending on the kind of unexpected question you ask, you may need to be ready with a quick follow-up question. And once you’ve asked your question(s), remember the importance of listening. Doing so will allow you to figure out what’s important to that student, while at the same time finding opportunities to begin telling your school’s story and why they should want to learn more.

Here are six other fall travel tips that are extremely important:

  1. Load up on the stories. Storytelling will help you achieve emotional engagement and create connections more than any facts/figures that you can offer. If you’re not sure where to find all those stories, start by talking with your tour guides, student ambassadors, and other colleagues in your office.
  2. Upload your notes to your CRM daily. No matter how busy you get, make time for this because, if you don’t, you’ll not only be hurting yourself in the long term but potentially the students/families that you’re trying to help. And if your CRM doesn’t have a place to upload notes, go talk to your supervisor about this immediately.
  3. Gather accurate contact information for prospective students AND parents. Confirm with the student that the information they’re giving you is their contact information and not mom or dad’s. Then I want you to ask them for their parents’ names and contact information. Too many colleges have a low percentage of parent information for students prior to the admitted stage. As I’ve discussed many times before, engaging the parents early is crucial. That’s hard to do if you don’t have accurate (or any) parent information.
  4. Don’t make every high school visit the same. Lunchroom, library, classroom, wherever you meet with students, read the room and adjust to your audience. I continue to see quotes in the surveys we do where students use words like “boring,” “annoying,” and “they’re all the same,” to describe these visits. Make them more interactive and engaging instead of just handing out your viewbook, mini-viewbook, or other marketing piece and then going through the spiel.
  5. No students doesn’t equal a wasted visit. It’s a fact. Most counselors are going to visit one or more schools this fall and have no students show up. If this happens to you, I don’t want you to drop off the updated marketing materials to the high school counselor and walk out the door. Instead, use it as an opportunity to make other connections at that school. In addition to the high school counselor, try and say hello to the principal, assistant principal, dean(s), secretaries, athletic director, teachers, etc. It’s a much smaller world than many realize, and word of mouth continues to be extremely valuable in 2018.
  6. Know your body and take care of it. Everybody is different. Know how much sleep you need to function each day and get it. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and body language absolutely matters. Also, drink a lot of water (not soda), and do your best to limit the fast food.

Good luck and safe travels!

If you’ve got specific fall travel questions I’m only an email, call, or text away.

P.S. How valuable do you think high school visits are in 2018? And are you planning on making more, less, or the same number this fall? I’d love to have you tell me. By the way, my recommendation (if you’re wondering) is to double down and do more. If you want to know why, all you have to do is ask.

Coaching Meetings That Get ResultsMonday, August 27th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

For coaches, we need to have meetings.  We need to meet to make sure our staff is on the same page, to sort through recruiting, to make sure important work is getting done on time and by the right people, to talk X’s and O’s, we meet with our team together and individually, etc. 

According to Cameron Herold in his book Meetings Suck, your meetings hold the potential to drive alignment within your staff, team, or business; they give direction; generate energy, focus, and creativity; and inspire your people to elevate your program or business to the next level.

“The problem isn’t that meetings suck,” says Herold “it’s that we suck at running them.”

I hear from coaches all the time that they just dread their staff meetings because they either last way too long, some don’t seem to have a point to them, or nothing is ever resolved.

I want you to think back to your last few meetings.  Did any of the following happen by you or by one of your coaching colleagues?

  1. Somebody arrived late so it forced the group to start the meeting over just to get them up-to-speed.
  2. Somebody took a phone call while still in the room.
  3. Somebody got distracted and checked their e-mail.
  4. Coaches were engaging in side conversations.
  5. Nobody was taking notes.
  6. Belaboring each point by talking too much.
  7. Interrupting others with “better ideas”.
  8. Not coming prepared to contribute.
  9. Responding to every comment with a quip.
  10. 10.There is somebody who does not speak up.

Did I hit any of your buttons with this list?  If you or your staff are guilty of any of these common meeting mistakes, it might be a great time to take a step back and reevaluate and establish new code of conduct standards for your meetings. 

I learned this exercise from Laura Stack, author of The Exhaustion Cure.  Request the opportunity to lead an exercise aimed at making your meetings more productive and less draining.  Start by telling your colleagues that you would like to go over some guidelines or protocols about the meetings that you run.  Standing in front of a white board or flip chart, ask the group, “If you were king or queen of the world, what rules would you make about meetings, to make them as productive as possible?  What makes you crazy about our meetings? How do we waste time? “How can we make our time together more productive?”” and list the statements people make.

Improving the quality of meetings takes work. For things to change, you all need to be honest about how things really are or nothing will really change.

Type these up, title it “Code of conduct,” put it on a piece of paper, and take it to a print shop to blow up into a poster sized piece of paper.  Frame it and hang it where you have meetings. 

Since having meetings is a necessary evil, we just need to train our teams to get results with meetings.  As long as you have to have meetings, you might as well do them well.

Before you plan another meeting, here are a few of the meeting guidelines that I try to follow:

  1. Start and stop on time. The leader of the meeting has to set the pace. Start the meeting on time whether everyone is there or not. End the meeting on time, whether you are done or not. If you create these “hard edges” on your meetings, you are more likely to achieve your outcomes.
  2. Focus your attention. Demand that others focus theirs. Stay in the conversation. No laptops. No phones. No side conversations. All of these things make meetings longer and less productive.
  3. Be fully engaged. By that, I mean the following: be energetic. The most important thing you bring to any meeting (really to any encounter with anyone) is your energy. Your energy level impacts others. Just like a boat leaves a wake behind it, you, as a leader, leave a wake behind you. So you have to be intentional about your energy. Choose the attitude. Choose the energy that best serves your purpose.

The more efficient you can make your meetings, the better the return on our time and energy investment into them.

I’m Avoiding Telling the Other Car Salesperson I’m Not BuyingMonday, August 27th, 2018

Which means, I’m just like your prospects.

The quick back story:

A few weeks ago, before we sent our daughter off for her freshman year at college, she got in an accident and totaled my wife’s car. She was fine, the car was not (and the Utz Potato Chip truck she rear-ended on a rainy day wasn’t doing to well, either).

So this past week, I’ve been car shopping. We’ve test driven, talked features, listened to sales pitches…you know the drill.

It was down to two brands, both of which were great cars with similar monthly payments. There was something she liked about both cars, as we talked and compared both afterwards, but ultimately decided on Brand #2. That’s when I volunteered to jump into action and go negotiate and take care of the paperwork that they swear is only going to take an hour, and then takes four hours. Got the car, she’s happy, and that should be the end of the story.

But it’s not. In fact, it’s at the same point in the story that thousands upon thousands of college coaches find themselves over and over and over again every recruiting cycle:

I haven’t called the other salesperson to tell him we went with the other car. Just like many recruits don’t call you when they’ve decided to accept an opportunity at a competitive program, I haven’t called the other sales professional who took the time to help us, and was incredibly nice, fair, and provided more information and a better line of discounts than Brand #1.

I haven’t told him. I’m feeling guilty, and yet it comes so naturally for me. Actually, it does for all of us. Avoidance is a common psychological hurdle most people face, in some form. I face it, you face it, and your prospects face it.

But enough about me. I’ve vowed I’ll tell him after I’m done writing this article, I promise. But if I sit back and reason with myself, and explore why I acted in this way, I come up with several points that seem to make sense to me on a very surface, human level…just like it makes sense for your recruits:

  • I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Which is irrational, really. We have far less of a relationship to each other compared to you and the recruit you’ve gone to watch play five separate times, and sent birthday cards to. But somehow, it just seems simpler to not talk to him and let the whole thing drift away. But I’m a fairly nice person, and I know he’s a nice person, and I just don’t feel like giving him bad news. (Who does?)
  • I don’t want to argue with him, or have him get angry with my decision. Sound familiar? That’s a common reason your recruits tell us they are hesitant to be truthful with the coaches who they don’t choose. I don’t think it’s malicious, but it is classic avoidance.
  • My allegiance is now with the other brand. Like recruits, I didn’t invest emotionally (or financially) until the end, not during the process. Just like your recruits. Coaches emotionally invest in the idea of their recruits being in their program earlier rather than later; prospects invest in the idea of competing for their coach much, much later, not earlier. And once they do, they’re in 100% and aren’t that concerned with the previous considerations. Just like Dan, the car buyer.

But enough about your avoidance-loving recruits. Let’s focus on you, as a coach and as a recruiter, who has to deal with all of this for the sake of your job (and your sanity). Here’s what I’d recommend you do when you’re facing a student-athlete who is giving you the run around…or just avoiding giving you the decision they’ve already come to:

  • Establish a timeline at the start of the process. Coach, that fixes so much of the problem. Outline when you see your program’s recruiting process wrapping up, outline for your recruit, and then ask him or her if that matches their timeline for making a decision. Come to an agreement. Leaving it open ended triggers those three actions I outlined above, and causes you stress.
  • Assume they are hiding something. We’ve written research and training articles on ‘assuming’ before, but I want to zero in on a point I usually reserve for strategy sessions with our clients: I want you to assume that your prospects have information that they aren’t revealing to you. If you work on that assumption, and keep that as a primary working theory throughout your interactions with them, I think you’ll find that you’ll be much more inquisitive, and focus on questions that lead to them revealing their true feelings. Try it, Coach.
  • Call them on it. Literally, call them. Or text them, if it’s still early in the process. But ask them, point blank, if they’re still moving forward with the idea of coming to school there and competing for you. Why is that? What do you want to see happen next in the process? What are you still trying to figure out about our campus and our program? What doesn’t seem like a good fit for you so far, as you’ve imagined yourself here? I’m a little surprised (and a little relieved) that the salesperson from Brand #1 hasn’t called me and asked me similar questions at this point. I’d actually be a little relieved if he opened the door and brought it up, frankly. Instead, I guess I have to be the one to do it. (And we see how that’s working out for him so far, right?) Lead the discussion, Coach. Your recruiting class depends on it.

We avoid tough conversations. It’s natural. But it can also be cataclysmic if you allow avoidance to dominate your recruiting strategy. Somebody has to lead, Coach, and I think it should be you as you prepare to recruit your next recruiting class.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do the right thing and email a really nice Subaru salesperson some bad news…

Want more great ideas in a longer, more personalized format? Listen to our podcast, College Recruiting Weekly, available on iTunes, Google Play or stream instantly online on Stitcher. We cover all the big recruiting strategy topics, interview fascinating guests, and talk to college recruiters about what’s working for them. Join our community of coaches!

Is It Time For You to Open Up Your Bag, Coach?Monday, August 20th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

I’ve noticed many coaches (especially myself) have a few coaching tricks we hold on to.

Honestly, I’ve tried many of the new, latest-and-greatest tricks. Especially when it comes to using the newest technology whiz-bang gizmo. But seldom do I find new ones that work as well as my current tricks, so I keep coming back to just a few tricks I can count on.

A few special ones that really work for me.

I keep my coaching tricks in a bag that is never far from hand, just like the cartoon character Felix the Cat.

That’s the way most old coaches are. We hold on dearly to what works and keep them close by. And I do consider myself an old coach (with around four decades of coaching experience).

After all those years there are two things I have learned

First, OLD coaches can learn NEW tricks. Certainly.

But second, and more importantly. . .

YOUNG coaches can (and should) learn OLD tricks.

The type of trick that is BOMB PROOF.

A trick that works, and works, and works. Time-tested, if you will.

Why?

Because young coaches are a highly motivated group. Looking for ways to improve. Trying to get to the finish before the other coach does. Willing to try new and old tricks alike. The old tricks that have survived usually do so because they work.

What does this have to do with you?

If you consider yourself an old coach (been through, say, more than 7 seasons) how about writing down 3 or so tricks that you always use in your coaching. Just don’t think about them, write them down. Then, share those old tricks with a young coach.

Sounds awkward, I know. And maybe egotistical.

But by sharing even just one of those old coaching tricks in a graceful and generous manner, with a young coach, you may reap rewards in ways that will surprise you. And if you’re a young coach, six seasons or less, how about asking the advice of an older coach. You may be surprised at what you learn, and might make an old coach feel just a little bit better about coaching.

A little give-and-take can go a long way. That right there is one of my coaching tricks.

Learn from Dr. Davenport’s four decades of college coaching experience by visiting Coaching Sports Today. Or, to work with Mike in his role as National Recruiting Coordinator here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies, email him at mike@dantudor.com

Home to Streamline Your College Coaching Office TasksMonday, August 20th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

There are a lot of tasks that we do as coaches every day, week and year in the office, with our teams, and with recruiting.  If you want to save time, and want to do it right every time, use a checklist.

For example, setting up a successful campus visit potentially can take a lot of time because there are a lot of details involved.   

For those that read Dan’s blogs, you know that you need to plan every possible area of your visit and your interaction with your recruits because they are watching your every move, and making judgement calls along the way as to whether or not to buy what you’re selling. On-campus visits are a pretty big deal, are a lot of work to set up, and can make or break your recruiting efforts.   

An easy way to reduce the time it takes to schedule the visit and make sure that everything gets taken care of is to invest a few hours creating a streamline procedure and have everything documented on an on-campus visit checklist.

The reason why checklists are good is simple: it’s easy for us to forget things. When you do something that involves multiple steps, it’s likely that you would forget one or two of them. Using checklists ensures that you won’t forget anything.

Besides helping you do your task correctly every time, here are some other benefits of using a checklist:

  • Creating a checklist will allow you to take the thinking out of repetitive tasks.  Since you don’t have to remember all the steps you need to take, you can use your brain power for something else.
  • You can save time. When you  have to think, remember, weigh your options, and agonize over every small task, it takes a lot of time, not to mention mental energy.  But when you make decisions in advance, you free up time to focus on other important activities that need to get done. 
  • You can delegate more easily.  If your recruiting coordinator is off recruiting, is ill, takes another job, or whatever, you don’t have to rush around trying to figure out what to do because every step for setting up a perfect on-campus is already outlines and recorded down on your on-campus visit checklist. 

Start by writing down the steps you take when planning a visit from the start to the end of the visit. What tasks need to be done?  Who is responsible for doing each task?.  When do tasks need to be done by? 

Here are some other things that you might want to create a checklist for:

  • Running a successful practice
  • Game-day routines
  • Travel procedures
  • Camp Produdures

I urge you to evaluate all tasks that you do on a repetitive, routine basis to see if you can dream up ways to do them faster.  Identify your regular office, team, or recruiting tasks and break them down into their consistent elements and you’ll probably get some ideas about how to streamline them.  Think about how to eliminate the hidden time costs of travel, gathering materials, revising, and cleanup.

They’ll Do the Same Thing My Daughter Does If You Let ThemTuesday, August 14th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

My wife and I already know the answer before we even ask the question.

Every now and then we let our 9-year old daughter pick where we go out for dinner. There are a ton of nice restaurants within a 15-20 minute drive from our house. But, every time despite having all those options, she opts for one of two familiar choices – McDonald’s or Culver’s.

My daughter chooses ‘safe’ over the unknown. It doesn’t matter that what she usually orders (hamburger, Mac and cheese, or noodles with butter) is available at a bunch of other restaurants. In the end, she settles.

Prospective students do the same thing throughout their college search. They did last year, and they will again this year unless you help them make an uncomfortable decision.

Here are four core issues you’re going to have to find a way to take control of if you want prospective students to bypass their own McDonald’s or Culver’s:

  • Understand the psychology behind their motivation for playing it safe. Most students begin their college search adventurous and seemingly open to anything, including what you’re telling them about your school. But, as many admissions counselors discover, it wanes as time goes on. Why? Because they, like most of us, gravitate to familiar and safe. That might result in the student choosing the school that’s the closest to home, the one that’s the least expensive, has the biggest name recognition, or some other traditionally safe-sounding reason. Sometimes, you benefit from being the safe choice. Many times, you don’t. What I want you to remember is this reasoning is common, and it can be overcome.
  • It’s your responsibility to tell them how to think. Let me be clear on this. I’m not suggesting you trick students into choosing your school. You don’t have that power. However, you do have the tools needed to define why your college or university is going to be the better choice in the end. And you have complete control over how much passion and confidence you exude. You need to clearly lay out all the reasons that a student should take the risk and choose your school. If you don’t, who will? Telling your story effectively is one of the foundational ways you begin to change the hearts and minds of your prospects.
  • Ask them to explain why they’re feeling ready to take a big risk. Another important part of an admissions counselors’ job is to understand why a prospective student is ready to take a risk. For example, you have an interested student from several states away who’s telling you that he/she is open to hearing/learning more about your school. The first thing I want you to ask them is, “So tell me why moving away from home and going far away to college seems like it might be the right decision for you?” If that student comes back with defined reasons as to why they’re looking at colleges out of their area, then you’ve got a strong start to that prospect’s recruitment. If on the other hand you get an answer like, “I don’t know, I just want to see what all my options are and look around a little,” I would argue you proceed with a lot of caution. That scenario can take the form of a lot of different conversations, but the main point I’m trying to make is this: If you sense your prospect is taking a risk or isn’t the typical student you usually see interested in your school, ask them early on to explain why they’re interested.
  • Ask them to define their timeline. One of the most important aspects of getting a prospect to leave their safe zone and consider a riskier path is to have them define their timeline for how their process will move forward, and how they’ll make their final decision. I’ve talked about timeline at length before, but if you need a quick reminder or maybe this is your first time reading my newsletter and you want more strategies on how to do that effectively, read this article I wrote. Defining their timeline early in the process is a critical piece for making sure a student is ready to seriously consider your school.

As you start to have in-depth conversations with this next class of prospective students, make sure you’re looking for what your prospect’s safe options are, and make a plan to clearly and consistently justify why taking a serious look at your school is well worth the risk.

Have a great rest of the week!

Your Call to Action Gets Things DoneMonday, August 13th, 2018

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

[This is part four in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches. Click here for the other articles.]

Here’s a fact—whenever your athlete leaves a meeting, a practice, or a huddle without knowing EXACTLY what to do…you’ve missed a chance at success.

And you may never get that opportunity for success again.

You need to nail the effective persuasion part

Coaches persuade.

Our job is to convince people to take positive action.

Persuasion is our bread & butter and the best coaches are masters of it.

Unfortunately, persuasion does not come easy for many. That’s the bad news.

The good news—with practice you can become very effective at persuasion.

Persuasion, the act of convincing someone to take positive action is a series of steps. Over the past weeks, we’ve been working on the first three steps of effective persuasion, which are:

  1. Step 1. Grab Attention
  2. Step 2. Spark Interest
  3. Step 3. Fascinate

Now it’s time for the final step…

Your call-to-action

This last step is no secret to the marketing world.

They are experts at using a call-to-action:

“So you don’t forget, call before midnight!”

“Operators are standing by, so call now!”

“Stop smelling bad, buy Stink Away today!”

We can learn a lot from from the marketing world. And we should, because coaches are marketers, and an effective call-to-action can make or break you.

What makes an effective call-to-action?

A call-to-action is asking (or telling) someone to take action. Athletes hear them all the time:

You’re primary receiver, so run a post pattern.

The bus leaves early, be here at 6:30 am.

Get your physicals to the trainer by end of the day, tomorrow.

Each of those are simple.

Each are specific.

And each leaves little doubt in the mind of the person what action he should take.

Being specific and keeping it simple are at the core of a good call-to-action.

There are a few other important things you should keep in mind:

A good call-to-action aligns with the person’s values. “I know you want to win this game, so doing this drill now will help you score in tonight’s game.

A sense of urgency improves the odds the person will follow through. “The deadline for your physical form is tomorrow. No form and you cannot be on the team.

An examples of the action helps. “See the exercise Jane just did? You need to do the exact same thing.

Timing of your call-to-action is critical

When do you think is the perfect time to ask someone to take action?

It depends on the person (or team), and the situation.

Usually, after you complete the first three steps of persuasion is the best time to issue a call-to-action. If you ask before then, your chances of success dwindle.

And don’t hesitate.

Strike while the fire of fascination is burning bright.

Wait too long, and the person will have moved on to the next call in in her life (friends, studies, work, social media, etc.)

You will know if your timing was right, if the action happened.

If it didn’t, then next time adjust your timing.

The medium matters

Be mindful of the method of communication you use.

The medium you use matters.

Personally, I find my calls-to-action work best when issued in person.

Yet, there are times when calls come through email (summer letters), or phone calls (distant recruits), or letters (fundraising).

A good rule of thumb—the closer to a personal connection you make when you issue your call, the greater the chance of success.

Also, be selective with your choice of words. Here are three ways of asking for the same action:

  • Do as I say—pick up that barbell now!
  • Lifting weights are critical to your success. Ready to lift?
  • I notice you are not lifting correctly. Would you like to discuss it?

They elicit a very different emotional response in the person. When you issue your call, what exactly do you want the response to be?

Your choice of wording will determine how positive the response is.

Where can you go with this?

Let me ask you,

  • Would you like to be a better coach? Then, click here.
  • Simple, short tips can make your coaching more effective. Please listen to a few.
  • Stuck? Then try this.

Each of those are my calls-to-actions.

Did any of them work on you? Did you click any of the links?

Take a moment and think through why you did click, or why you did not.

Here’s the bottom line of the entire series

Persuasion is the life blood of coaching. Effective persuasion is how you will get those around you to take positive action…the positive action they need to take.

Like all good tools, effective persuasion won’t do you any good if it lingers in the bottom of your toolbox.

Take it out, practice with it, and use it.

The better you are at effective persuasion, the better coach you will be!

It Might Not Make Sense, ButTuesday, August 7th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

It happened again, this time during a staff training workshop that I led for a college in Illinois yesterday.

During a break, one of the admissions counselors came up and asked me if his peers at other schools are also dealing with students making completely illogical college decisions. The short answer I gave him was, “of course.”

Choosing a college based on whether or not they have a football team might seem completely illogical to you and the wrong way to break a tie between schools, but it happens from time to time. And some students in 2018 are also still picking colleges based on where their high school friends are or are not going…that includes a boyfriend or girlfriend as well. One student even said in a recent survey we conducted for a school that the deciding factor that led them to pick their college was, “I thought it would be easier to change my major here than at other schools.”

Over the past couple of years I’ve seen and heard more examples of irrational, emotional decisions than ever before in our ongoing work with college admission departments.

Here are five important constants I see with this generation of students that I want you to keep in mind as you start to communicate with this next class:

  • They’re deciding based on their emotions. Emotion often outweighs logic and facts, including when it comes to deciding which colleges to visit and apply to.
  • They’re thinking short term, not long term, when it comes to their college experience. What feels right at that moment is often more important versus over four years.
  • They’re looking to see which colleges truly personalize the process and really take an interest in them. Are you a resource or salesperson? Are you consistently staying in touch and asking them for their feedback and opinions on things? Do you feel like someone they can trust?
  • They’re relying on others to help them make their decisions. Namely parents, peers, and other family and friends in their inner circle/community.
  • They’ll often turn to irrelevant statistics to justify their actions. You might develop a great relationship with a student and offer them a competitive financial aid package, but in the end, they pick the school with the larger, newer residence halls or the one where their boyfriend, girlfriend, or group of friends is going.

The bottom line is this generation is a tough group to recruit. They often change their minds multiple times daily, and they do things that leave people like yourself scratching your head.

Let me share with you some additional ideas/thoughts that might help you moving forward:

  • Search out information as early as possible about how they’re going to make their college decision. Ask questions about tiebreakers and other things that matter most as they look at different schools…no matter how silly you might think they are.
  • If the early emails and letters you send are focused solely on the logical argument that your school and your academic programs are the best choice, you may be making a huge mistake. It’s not that your prospect doesn’t need that, it just may not be the right time yet.
  • Over the past two years in both this newsletter and during NACAC affiliate conferences I’ve spoken at, I’ve really tried to drive home just how much this generation of students are driven by fear. How are you, your colleagues, and your recruiting communications helping to alleviate that fear?
  • Find ways to feed their emotions and make a personal connection rather than a logical case. If you take that approach, you’ll set yourself up for having them listen to your logical case more intently once you have that emotional connection.
  • Make your case with more passion than your competition. I continue to see/hear plenty of stories where the emotional connections that the admissions staff, tour guides, etc. helped build end up being a significant reason why the student chose their school. Emotions sell because emotions are real. And remember, passion has nothing to do with your budget.
  • Always include/engage the parents. When you clue them in early on to your conversations with their son/daughter, and when you ask them for their feedback on things, you gain allies who feel like a valued partner.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

As always, if you have questions about this article or any other aspect of student recruitment, leadership, or professional development, I’m ready to listen and help. Reply back, and we’ll start a conversation.

Why Your Recruits Choose “Safe” If You Let ThemMonday, August 6th, 2018

It’s a little after 6:00pm, and I’m two blocks from Times Square in New York City. There are hundreds of great restaurants within walking distance, offering every delicacy known to man. I’ve walked by them before, and swore that “next time” I’d venture in and try one. But every next time, faced with that choice, I opted for my old familiar foodie friend:

Chipotle.

When faced with a decision, I cave.

I’ll choose ‘safe’ over the ‘unknown’, and my usual from Chipotle is an easy decision I long ago justified as being smart, relatively healthy, fast and affordable. Not exciting, not new…safe. I look at the other restaurants, and check out their menus online, and read the reviews. But in the end, I settle.

So do your recruits. They did last year, and they will again this year unless you help them make the uncomfortable decision. In New York, I don’t have that personal guide walking along with me, offering me advice and direction on the new restaurant that I just can’t pass up. Instead, I opt for the familiar.

Your recruits do the same thing on a regular basis.

Want to work on changing that for this next recruiting class? Here are four core issues you’re going to have to find a way to take control of if you hope for your prospect to take the lead – bypass their own “Chipotle” – and choose you:

  • Understand the psychology behind their motivation for playing it safe. Most recruits start out adventurous and seemingly open to anything, including what you’re telling them about. That’s a common trait early in the process, but as many coaches discover, it wanes as time goes on. Why? Because most of us gravitate to the familiar and safe. That might come in the form of eventually choosing the school that’s the closest to home, the one that’s the highest division level, best conference, biggest offer, or some other traditionally safe-sounding reason for choosing a particular school. Sometimes, you benefit from being the safe choice. Many other times, you don’t. Just understand, this reasoning is common, and it can be overcome.
  • It’s your responsibility to tell them how to think. That sentence sounds a little manipulative, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you “trick” or “force” your prospects into choosing you; coaches don’t have that power. However, you do have the tools needed to define why your program is going to be the better choice in the end, and doing so with passion and confidence (even if you’re coaching at a school that you’re not that passionate about, and don’t feel all that confident about when it comes to what you offer). You need to clearly lay out the reasons they should take the risk and choose you. If you don’t, who will? Telling your story effectively is one of the foundational ways you begin to change the hearts and minds of your prospects.
  • Ask them why they’re apparently feeling ready to take a big risk. Another key responsibility for coaches is to understand why a recruit is apparently ready to take a risk. For example, you have an interested prospect from several states away who is telling you that she’s open to hearing about your program and your school. The first thing I’d want you to ask is, “So tell me why moving away from home and truly going away to college seems like it might be the right decision for you?” If she comes back with solid reasons as to why she’s looking out of her area, then you’ve got a strong start to that prospect’s recruitment. If, on the other hand, all you get is “oh, I don’t know, I just wanted to see what all my options are, and take some time to look around a little,” you don’t have a true prospect. That scenario can take the form of a lot of different conversations, but the main point is this: If you sense your prospect is taking a risk, or isn’t your typical recruit you usually see interested in your program, ask them early on why they’re interested.
  • Ask them to define their timeline. One of the most important aspects of getting a prospect to leave their safe zone and consider a riskier path is to have them define their timeline for seeing the process move forward, and making their final decision. This process also provides you with a natural transition into the conversation about establishing your own timeline for your program, as well as setting up a fair but firm deadline. For more strategies on how to do that effectively, listen to this podcast we did on the topic. Defining their timeline is a critical final piece for making sure your recruit is ready to seriously consider you and your program.

Coach, make sure you’re looking for what your prospect’s safe options are, and make a plan to gently introduce the idea that you are more than a temporary distraction on their way to making a safe choice. Justify why you’re worth the risk, and reinforce that consistently throughout the early parts of the recruiting process.

 

One Simple Strategy That Could Save Coaches 10 Hours Every WeekMonday, August 6th, 2018

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

I have made some of my biggest breakthroughs with productivity only after I created systems.  The systems that I have created have played a big part in helping to reduce the amount of hours that I work while in the office so I can get home quicker to my family. 

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some very simple, but effective systems that you can create for yourself to help reduce the time it takes you to do things.     

In my study of the best time management strategies, it became very apparent that effective self-leaders in every profession have systems for just about everything from work activities like scheduling, follow up, entering data, and sending thank you cards, to personal activities such as sleeping, eating, dealing with money, cars, and family responsibilities.

Those systems make life easier, and ensure they are always ready to perform.   Here are two examples of basic systems (the third one being the ultimate game changer):  

Daily Attire— In addition to being a college coach, as you may know because you maybe have read some of my articles in the College Recruiting Weekly newsletter before, I run a company teaching time management strategies to college coaches called Busy Coach, have two children, and I have spent the last two and half years completing 5 different products that help coaches make a greater impact in a shorter amount of time.

As you can imagine, there is not a moment of time to spare. In order to ensure that I do not have to waste any time preparing in the morning, and to make sure I have proper attire, I make sure to lay out the night before what I will wear the next day in the office, to work out, and then out to practice.  It sounds simple, but that extra fifteen minutes every morning adds up in the course of a week.

Travel— As we all know, we travel a lot during our seasons, in the off season we are recruiting week after week, we may travel with youth teams we coach, and then we are traveling some more if we decide to be on the road working other camps.  Collecting the items we need for every trip can be time-consuming, inefficient, and ineffective, especially if you tend to often forget things at home or in your office. 

For me, after the third time of forgetting the charger for my computer and having to spend another $75 for a replacement or ask the front desk for a phone charger, or a toothbrush, I’d had enough. I assembled a travel bag containing every single item I need for my trips, and now I can leave at a moment’s notice because my bag contains everything I need to be on the road— business cards, toiletries, adaptors and chargers for my phone and computer.

You’ll know you need a system when you have a challenge that is recurring or you find you’re missing opportunities because you’re unprepared. If you’re walking out the door with just enough time to make an appointment only to discover you’re running on fumes, you need a system for getting out the door earlier: pack your backpack the night before, have your clothes already out and ready to go, set the coffee maker, get up earlier, etc.

Said another way, wherever you feel like you need to get your act together, you need a system. A life without systems is a life with unnecessary stress!  

If you want more ideas on how to create systems for your recruiting, for working in the office, for your team or travel, or other time management techniques delivered to your inbox every Sunday, email me at mandy@busy.coach or visit www.busy.coach.

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