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September 27th, 2016

Parent Frustrations During the Student Recruitment Process

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week at the NACAC National Conference, I made it a point to connect with a lot of high school counselors. I got their thoughts on a number of topics including the level of value that both they and their students perceive high school visits by college admissions counselors to hold. That’s not the focus of my article today, but if you really want to know what they told me, all you have to do is reach out and ask.

Instead, I want to talk with you about frustration. Many of those same high school counselors expressed to me that now, more than ever, they’re hearing from parents who are frustrated with the student recruitment process as a whole…namely the fact that many college and university admissions offices aren’t doing what they feel is a good enough job of engaging with them.

This is something that continues to baffle me. I know that you know that parents are a huge player in their child’s decision of where to attend college. So why then are so many admissions offices still not doing a good enough job of connecting with their prospect’s biggest influencer(s)? Our research from your students found that over 90% of them said their parents played a significant role in their final decision. And of the 12 admissions training workshops I led this summer, 8 of those teams listed better communication with parents as one of their action points.

If you’re ready to grow in this area, here are four of the most common parent frustrations that I would suggest you address:

  1. They want to be involved earlier in the process. If you’re waiting until the financial aid discussion to create real dialogue with parents, that’s a double whammy. Parents recognize pretty quickly when colleges aren’t involving them in the process the way they want to be and the way they feel they should be. On top of that, the majority of your prospects tell us in our focus group research that they too notice which colleges are and are not connecting with their parents…and everyone wonders why that’s the case. Here’s my suggestion to you. At the end of one of those early phone calls with your prospect, ask them if their mom or dad is available for a minute because you’d like to say hello. When you get that opportunity, be prepared to discuss what you’ve been talking about with their son or daughter and why you feel your school is a “good fit” for them.
  2. They want to be recruited separately by you. Your school sends email, mail, and brochures to your prospects with the goal of getting them interested enough to take that next step. The problem is most of that information still looks and sounds like every other college and university. And as I’ve told you before, in many cases your prospects are scared of what that next step means. When that happens, you and I both know who they turn to for advice. If you’re not sending separate communications to parents, you can’t expect them to have a good vision of what your institution can offer their child. Beyond that, unless the price tag is going to be $0.00, parents are going to take a big interest in affordability and value so they can justify why they should invest a significant chunk of money in your school. You need to prove both of those things to your prospect’s parents because if you don’t make that case separately, you’re going to have a significantly harder time keeping the process moving forward.
  3. They want their concerns addressed during the campus visit. Most of your students continue to tell us that sitting through a meeting about financial aid or meeting with a dean/professor during the campus visit has very little bearing on their final decision to attend your school. That doesn’t mean their parents feel the same way, so you need to be careful about what you schedule and what you don’t. Most parents are going to be interested in doing one, if not both. The easiest way to find out is to contact them separately before the visit and ask them what important things they want to get out of the visit experience. To build on this, I’m going to recommend a strategy that has paid big dividends for some of our clients. Assuming that you’ve established a level of comfort with the family prior to the campus visit, not too soon into the visit separate the student from his or her parents. It doesn’t have to be for long. Have the parents meet with your financial aid staff or that professor, and let the prospect spend some time with the student tour guide and possibly other current students. We’ve found that it makes for a more memorable experience for everybody involved.
  4. They think there’s a lack of overall guidance for parents during the process. This is especially true in the latter stages after the campus visit and after the financial aid award letter has been delivered. Many parents feel there are gaps in communication, and rightfully so, as many admissions counselors tell us they pull back a little and the communication flow slows down because they don’t want the prospect and his or her parents to feel pressured. Meanwhile, the parents are searching for guidance, unsure of what the next step is at a crucial stage.

I’ve just given you four of the most common frustrations parents have during the college search process. Now, what are you going to do with this information?

At a time when parents are looking for a school that respects their opinion and input and sees them as a valued partner in the college decision-making process of their son or daughter, I implore you to take action…and so do your prospects.

If you want to learn more about the parent messaging we create for clients simply email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

September 20th, 2016

How You Can Get Your Prospects to Talk

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on how to get prospective students to open up and why it’s such a challenge.

Let me start by giving you the good news – If you take the information I’m about to give you today and apply it consistently, it’s no longer going to be such a monumental challenge!

There are three big reasons why students in this next recruiting class either haven’t engaged with you yet or are giving you those standard one and two word answers.

  • Your content is boring and looks and sounds like every other college/university
  • They don’t know you yet (not your school, I mean you personally), so a connection and comfort level hasn’t been established, and oh by the way, they’re scared of saying something wrong
  • You’re not asking the right questions

I’ve given you strategies and ideas on how to make your content more appealing and how to address fear and create a level of comfort with your prospects before. If you missed those articles or need a refresher, I encourage you to connect with me after you finish reading the rest of this article.

Bullet point number three is what I want to focus on with you today.

A huge part of successful recruiting revolves around being the admissions counselor that can get your prospects to communicate more with you than they do your competition…not just one time but consistently throughout the recruitment process. That only happens when a comfort level has been created, and you consistently ask effective questions.

If you’re just sitting back convinced that your prospects will ask you questions when they have them because you’ve told them something like, “I’m here to help, call or email me if you have any questions”, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

One of the key pieces of data that we’ve uncovered from our focus group research with colleges and universities across the nation is that most of today’s teenage recruits don’t know what they’re supposed to ask you or how they’re supposed to ask it. Without your help they may never take initiative and talk to you and really get a feel for whether your school is the “right fit” for them.

Effective questions are the core of every good recruiting effort! They get you an explanation of something, and your prospect will open up and provide you with more insights and useful information that leads to further conversation and aids you in their recruitment.

So if that’s the case, why don’t many of you ask effective questions? I think it’s because you’re either worried about being too pushy, or you’re too busy selling your school with facts and figures.

If you want me to help you grow immediately in this area, there are 4 things I need you to self evaluate first:

  1. You need to figure out WHAT questions to ask. Believe it or not, there are bad questions you can ask. If you don’t know what to ask prospects and parents then all you’re doing is relationship building, which is very important, but it can also prevent you from helping keep the process moving forward.
  2. You need to define WHY you’re asking a particular question. Are you doing it to get actual, useable information, or to help your prospect become comfortable talking to you?
  3. HOW do you ask a question? Some are better over the phone or in-person (ones that are more personal and require more detail). Others can be done in an email, on social media or via text (more conversational type questions).
  4. WHEN do you ask a particular question? There are definitely right times and wrong times. You need to be intelligent in terms of the way you bring up topics. For example, if in the first couple of letters or emails you ask a new prospect to start the application process or sign up for a campus visit, our research says that’s way too soon. Most students are not ready to take that big a step yet.

Always keep those 4 things in mind when you develop a question.

Now, I’m guessing you might be interested in some effective questions that you can use in the early stages of the recruitment process. Below is a handful that we’ve developed that our clients continue to tell us work really well.

But first let me add one more thing. Your initial questions if you’re trying to establish trust and a level of comfort with your prospect should be 100% about them. The questions shouldn’t be too broad and need to be easy enough for the student to answer to get them comfortable talking to you.  We’ve found those questions should not be about declaring who their top school is, or anything that pressures them to give you early information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the college search process, what their perfect college looks like, and other questions that focus on them. You might even try to make them laugh (or at least smile). Humor is a great icebreaker.

  • What prompted you to start looking at our school? OR if you’re reaching out to the student first you could ask, “What would you need to see from us to become seriously interested in our school?”
  • What are your deal-breakers or things that your college has to have?
  • Walk me through how you’re going to be making your college decision.
  • How do you see yourself using your parents to help you figure out which college is right for you?
  • What’s the most confusing part about this process right now?
  • What scares you the most about the college search process?
  • As we begin to talk more, will you be okay with telling me no if our school doesn’t seem like the right fit?
  • Is there something I need to answer for you before you’ll consider coming to campus for a visit? OR start filling out our application?

If you want a further explanation about one or more of these questions, simply click this link and email me (unless you’ll be at NACAC this week, in which case you should just stop by Booth 853 and we can talk in person).

Remember, the better the questions, the greater the chance you have of connecting with a prospect, getting a back-and-forth conversation started, understanding his or her mindset, and ultimately coming up with a strategy to successfully recruit them. Make those questions thought provoking and make them original.

Good luck, have fun with it, and make it a great recruiting week!

September 19th, 2016

How to Evaluate NCSA Prospects Online

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 11.39.45 PMWith the Fall recruiting season fully underway, some coaches who are trying to ramp-up their use of technology in recruiting look at their competitors using NCSA and still wonder, “What’s the big deal?”

Simply put, there’s no other technology resource on the planet more complete when it comes to new prospect information for college coaches. That’s why so many coaches login to their free NCSA accounts weekly, because of a consistent flow of new incoming data.

The NCSA staff of former coaches and college athletes have assembled players’ key stats, video, academic and contact information in one place so coaches don’t have to search. That means coaches who use the database skip several steps at the start of the recruiting process, enabling them to get to deeper contact with their top prospects sooner.

The fact is, college recruiters have a lot to do with little time to do it in. NCSA can help keep track of prospective players so you can get back to coaching:

    • Drill into specific search criteria with NCSA’s robust engine. There are more than 40 search filters including geographic location of prospects, their year of graduation, GPA, key measurables, and more.
    • Follow and contact the athletes you want to recruit. As a college coach, you can follow athletes and get notified when they make changes to their profile – and also have their contact info.
    • Connect your NCSA searches to your favorite platforms. When you use the database, you can export player info or in bulk to Excel or platforms like Front Rush. It’s a seamless way to use all the data available while not creating an entirely new level of work.

Whether it’s finding the next prospective recruit or managing all of your recruiting communication in one place, NCSA Athletic Recruiting for coaches can help. 

Login to your free coach account or learn more about how we help coaches.

September 19th, 2016

There’s an App for That

cip_pic_360by Chelsea Cipriani, Front Rush

With the world at our fingertips, there are many helpful apps that can make your life as a coach much easier.  Everyone has their preference and a lot of apps perform a very similar task in a slightly different way.  Below are a few situations you may run into as a coach, followed by an App that can help you remedy the situation.

Situation 1: “You have arrived at your destination on the left,” says the GPS attached to the dash in an english accent.  “Everyone off the bus, we are here!”  Just kidding, we are actually at an old abandoned water tower.  Nothing against the use of a GPS, but sometimes they can be outdated and often lead you to the wrong destination.  Every coach should have at least one Map tool on their smartphone.  Check out our different Map suggestions below. (All Free)

Google Maps: “Real time navigation, traffic, transit, and nearby places.”  

Experience the Google Maps difference
• Offline maps to search and navigate without an internet connection
• Street View and indoor imagery for restaurants, shops, museums and more
• Indoor maps to quickly find your way inside big places like airports, malls and stadiums
• Comprehensive, accurate maps in 220 countries and territories
• Transit schedules and maps for over 15,000 cities
• Detailed business information on over 100 million places

Maps (Apple): “Maps take a whole new turn.”

Offering an all-new design and a host of innovative features, Maps makes finding and getting to your destination faster and easier than ever. With turn-by-turn spoken directions, interactive 3D views, proactive suggestions, and the ability to use third-party apps right inside Maps, there’s so much to explore.

Waze: “GPS Navigation, Maps & Social Traffic.”

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join drivers in your area who share real-time traffic & road info to save time, gas money, and improve daily commuting for all.

 

 

Situation 2: “Your 2016 Conference Champions rush the field following the final buzzer.” Meanwhile, the assistant coach is capturing this on their smart phone.  “I can’t wait to post this and send to all of our Alumni, Fans, and Students.”  Wait… you can immediately post it to social media using one of the Apps below!  (All Free)

Facebook              Twitter             Instagram         Snapchat

These Apps will keep your following in the loop every step of the way.  By posting on social media during your season, more and more fans will be talking about and following program!

Situation 3: “Coach, I know what you are saying, and I am trying… but I need to see it.”  As coaches you hear this almost every time you have an individual skill instruction with a player.  Seeing is believing and they need to see their skill on film right there in that moment.  There are lots of video apps for this particular instance that can be extremely helpful in fine tuning technique.  Check out the two Apps below.

SloPro – 1000fps Slow Motion Video:  Shoot video at a high speed then play it back in sllloooooww motion. Just added–SUPER SLOW MOTION 1000FPS –it will blow your mind! (Free)

 

Live Video Delay: Monitor live video on an adjustable delay of up to 10 minutes. Get immediate feedback and make your practice sessions more productive. (Free version and $2.99 version)

 

Situation 4: “Attention travelers, Flight 456 has been delayed by 2 hours.”  We have all had this happen.  What was already a 2 hour layover has now been turned into a 4 hour layover and you have 25 young adults to entertain.  Below are a few Apps that can be used as “Team Building” and “Entertainment” through those slightly boring times.

Heads Up: It’s the game The New York Times called a “Sensation,” and Cosmopolitan said “will be the best dollar you’ve spent.” Heads Up! is the fun and hilarious game from Ellen DeGeneres that she plays on her show, and you can play with your friends! (this App is $0.99)

 

Reverse Charades: It’s fast-paced, fiercely fun team competition that’s an absolute riot with families, work teams, school groups, party-goers or among a few close friends. But be warned…you’re in for big and dangerous doses of fun! (Free)

 

Situation 5: Somewhere along the line… the post game meal did not get ordered.  Don’t Panic.  Whether it is the day before in your hotel room or you are at the stadium showering, there are Apps that can help you!

Yelp: Top-ranked Yelp for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch has over 100 million reviews on businesses worldwide! Whether you are looking for a pizzeria that is open now or a coffee shop nearby, Yelp is your local guide to finding just the place to eat, shop, drink, relax, and play.

Other great Apps for food ordering are the Apps of the popular places your team likes to eat.  For example: Panera, Chipotle, Domino’s, Jimmy Johns, Papa John’s, Grubhub, etc.  Many of these popular restaurants have an App for ordering on the fly.


coach packettLastly, if you currently are using a
Recruiting Software for the organization of your program, check out your App Store to see if there is a Mobile App Available.  

 

If you are a Front Rush user, check out our Front Rush and Coach Packet Apps.  These Apps are your Recruiting Tool on the road, keeping you connected at all times!

 

Regardless of which Apps you prefer, there are many out there that can make the life of a coach much easier!  You can always be prepared for any scenario by having a few of these Apps downloaded to your smart phone.

What Apps do you like the most?  Are you currently using any that are not listed?  We would love to hear from you!

 

App descriptions taken from www.itunes.com

 

September 13th, 2016

13 Things Your Recruits Told Us That You Need to Know

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When an admissions department brings us to campus to lead one of our popular training workshops, part of what we do is conduct extensive focus group research with their student body, specifically their freshmen. The questions we ask produce honest, valuable feedback on a number of different parts of the student recruitment process. Students have no problem singling out a specific counselor on a job well done, nor do they mince words about specific things their school’s admissions team needs to improve/change.

Throughout the workshop I reference the survey results and compare them to what students at other colleges and universities nationwide tell us.

In a nutshell, the college or university we’re working with discovers how this generation of student wants to be recruited and what matters to them most/least when it comes time to make that BIG decision.

Along with that focus group research, I regularly interact with teenagers and those in their early 20’s at college fairs, community events, restaurants, the mall, and yes, even in airports when I travel.

My goal is always the same: I want to hear what your “typical recruit” wants from you during the college search/transfer process…because then I can share this with you (if you’re a client of ours, or if you reach out to me and ask) and you can use that information to become a more efficient, more confident recruiter.

In honor of today being September 13th, I’m going to give you 13 things/themes that thousands of students have told us over the past year as it relates to the college recruitment process. I encourage you to share this information with your fellow counselors and others on your campus:

  1. The majority of prospects still only “seriously consider” two or three colleges.
  2. Most colleges and universities have gaps in their communication plans and students notice. They want more consistent communication specifically between the time they deposit/commit to when they arrive on campus. I would add that conversation should shift from why they should want to pick your school to why they’ve made such a great decision and what they should expect to see when they arrive on campus.
  3. Too many schools exaggerate or “lie” (yes students believe colleges “lie”) when they initially discuss things like cost and the overall “student experience” on their campus.
  4. “More texting, less phone calls.” When asked if they agree or disagree with this statement when it comes to college admissions counselors communicating with prospective students, here are some quotes that contain common themes:

“I think that texting can be useful for students when they are busy. Most seniors in high school are trying to figure out college apps, trying to finish schoolwork, and most likely running around to all the other things they do. Texts can be a much easier way to quickly get a message across. However, I think texting only goes so far. It’s great for scheduling phone calls and such, but having conversations about the school and whatever should be done on the phone. The conversation will flow easier and the prospective student will be able to ask questions as they come to mind.”

“I think phone calls are more important because it is much easier to ask questions however, I think if asked we would say text more often because this way we do not have to respond or feel dumb. Most of us are afraid of the phone call but it does force more communication something that is important in this process even if we do not know we need it.”

“Depends on what the student is comfortable with. Some kids HATE talking on the phone and are much more comfortable talking over text. However, sometimes it can be unclear and it is definitely not as personal. I think it depends entirely on the student.”

“Disagree. Phone calls show u are willing to take time for me as a student and not shoot me an automated txt.”

“I disagree with this statement — phone calls seem more personable, and you can understand the tone of the other person’s voice, rather than just guessing VIA text message. Plus, text messages seem so informal.”

“No, because it is hard to communicate certain things by text message. Things may get lost in translation and you have to wait periods of time before getting a response.”

  1. When given the choices of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, students consistently told us that the best social media platform for admissions counselors to use if they want to connect with this next class of prospects is Facebook.
  2. Be up on pop culture, but if you don’t know about people like DJ Khaled, don’t pretend to.
  3. Out of a list of fifteen, the top two factors that were “very important” in terms of how they influenced a student to choose that school over other colleges were the “feel” of the campus,” and “perception of the college as a whole”. The “feel” of the campus was also number one a year ago. “More affordable than some other schools”, which was number two a year ago, has dropped down the list to number five.
  4. During campus walking tours, colleges still spend way too much time talking about the history of the school and various buildings. In that same list of fifteen factors that students use to make a final decision “the history of the school” ranks second to last.
  5. Overall colleges are doing a better job of explaining the financial aid process…BUT only 51.7% of students believe colleges are doing an “awesome” job of it. Instead it’s “okay”, “poor” or “very poor”. Would your school’s President be happy with 51.7%?
  6. Colleges don’t utilize their current students nearly enough during the student recruitment process. Your prospects would love to connect more with them on an individual basis versus you communicating something they said secondhand.
  7. Personal, handwritten notes make a huge positive impression on your prospects…who value the time you commit to doing so versus posting on social media or sending an email. And if you’re wondering when a good time is for such a note, how about right after you talk to them on the phone for the first time or in the first couple of days after the campus visit.
  8. If your school doesn’t communicate with parents consistently throughout the recruitment process (especially during on-campus events), you’re making it twice as hard to get that prospect to deposit to your school. Not impossible, just much harder.
  9. It’s not about your wants and your needs as a counselor. It’s about their wants and their needs from start to finish.

How can I help you grow and win? Seriously, I want to know. If you’re hesitant to connect with me because part of you is worried all I’m going to do is talk about Tudor Collegiate Strategies and push our products…THAT’S NOT ME! So go ahead and email me OR stop by booth 853 next week at the NACAC National Conference, and we can talk in person about #growandwin.

September 12th, 2016

Go Wireless

ken1Ken Whittaker, Front Rush

Last Wednesday marked what us nerds call the “Quarterly-Apple-Head-Scratching-Event.” Okay, nobody calls it that (I just made it up, could you tell?). Now as a mobile developer, I obviously have an inherent interest in what the company has brewing, and what direction they’re taking the hardware and software they develop. Perhaps some of you also have a knack for technology, and streamed the event too. Others may have caught the highlights online or on the nightly news. The point is, as such a massive company, Apple has made it a habit of creating a buzz around their announcements. Now as you may have heard, the next generation iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have just been announced. However, there’s one piece missing from this generation that you may have taken for granted all these years…

The headphone jack. That’s right – Apple decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 for a variety of reasons. Skeptics have kicked back and made comments about how this is just an excuse to sell their own headphones, or bolster their own technology (after all, they did acquire Beats a little over two years ago). Maybe the critics are right, but I think there’s a little more to the idea. As Phil Schiller (Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing) took the stage to announce 10 of the most prominent features of the iPhone 7, he made an interesting comment, ultimately stating that the decision “comes down to one word. Courage. The courage to move on, do something new, that betters all of us.” He went on to explain that “it makes no sense to tether ourselves with cables to our mobile devices.” It’s clear Apple has a vision for how they believe audio on a phone should work – and removing the headphone jack is the first major step in making that vision a reality.

Some may take these comments and be annoyed with them. Maybe you just invested in a new $200 pair of headphones or are a person of habit. However, I think that’s the point here. Phil mentioned how the Apple team has taken on challenges to achieve their goal. Obviously they would not have removed the headphone jack without feeling confident in their plan to replace it. That’s why they’ve developed new technology to pair a new generation of headphones wirelessly – without having to go through the complex motions of traditional device pairing. For the hold outs, they’re also including an adapter to connect analog headphones to the iPhone 7, as well as a new generation of their “standard” headphones that connect to the Lightning adapter (or charging port as you might call it). So – hope is not lost. They know the transition will take some time, and they’re willing to let people discover that change on their own.

Now, Apple could have taken the easy route by including the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. But they had the courage to try something different (queue company slogan “Think Different” circa 1997). And to their credit, they have the popularity that likely gave them the confidence to even suggest such a bold change. In reality, people will gripe about how they removed the headphone jack for a little while, but ultimately, they will be inclined to try the new pair of Lightning connected headphones included with the device. Or maybe they’ll give the new wireless AirPods a chance. Apple hopes we look back at the headphone jack like we do cassette tapes or VHS movies. If something can be done more efficiently, why wouldn’t they push towards that approach?

For now, they’ve covered their bases by including an analog headphone adapter. Basically, you can get the iPhone 7 and use it the exact same way you would with your older iPhone or any other mobile device by using that connector. However, this is just the first phase in what they hope is the beginning of a new way of thinking. As I mentioned, this isn’t a new concept, nor is it the first time they or any other company pushed to make a huge change – but it’s the most recent on a public scale.

When you’re out scouting new talent or recruiting the next superstar to your team, take a minute to think about your process. Are you recruiting a certain way because that’s what you’ve always done or because it’s easy? If so don’t be afraid to step outside the realm and try something new. As a heads up, if your main reason for not changing a process is “because it’s always been done that way” – you might want to at least consider branching out (or “going wireless,” to be super corny and relate it to Apple and the headphone jack). Remember that the “adapter is always in the box” for you to use if you need it. But unless you have the courage to try something new, you’ll always be a step or two behind the competition.

Now, I can’t help but put a shameless plug in for Coach Packet – since the relevance here cannot be overlooked. A few years ago, Coach Packet dared to replace the historic paper bundles by organizing all the information online. Today we’re proud this information can sit in your pocket (maybe on your shiny new iPhone 7?) and be accessible to you wherever you are. What ways can you use Coach Packet and other software with your current scouting processes to bolster your approach and get that head start on your recruiting game? As Neal said last week, we love learning what you do as coaches.

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