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October 16th, 2018

How Many of These 29 Things Are You Doing?

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

There are a number of different ways that you can create better recruiting stories. While I was doing some fall cleaning, I came across a bunch of them in various documents and notes on my MacBook.

My first thought was to pass along these tips and recruitment strategies to you in this week’s article. Not all of these will apply to you, but a lot of them will.

And whether you’re a long time reader or one of the many new people that have been added to my newsletter community over the past few weeks, reply back and let me know what you think about this article…or about the newsletter…or both. My goal continues to be to help admissions professionals grow, lead, and win. Thank you for your continued support!

  1. Write down three things you know prospective students don’t care about. Stop talking about those things immediately.
  2. You have to decide to tell your story. It starts there. Too often colleges revert to a list of statistics, facts and data that they relay to prospective students. Worse yet, most colleges stop telling their story way too early in the process, thinking (mistakenly) that once they actually begin speaking one-on-one with a student, they don’t need to continue telling their story.
  3. Eliminate the myth that direct mail isn’t effective as a communication tool. I know postage costs a lot, and yes eliminating or minimizing it would also save a lot of time. Too many colleges have decided that this generation doesn’t read mail and/or doesn’t want it. Our ongoing survey research continues to show the exact opposite. Students understand letters take more time to craft, and they use that as tangible proof that a college is “serious about them.” And if you want data to support this point, 58.4% of students in our surveys said they wanted a letter from a college once a month during their college search. Another 25.4% said once per week.
  4. Go through your upcoming emails and letters and take out all of the “big words.”
  5. Be okay with starting an occasional sentence with the word “and” or “but.” This generation of students could care less whether it’s grammatically correct or not.
  6. And use a more conversational tone. That won’t make you less professional, it will actually make you more relatable.
  7. Have one consistent voice in your recruiting communications (emails, letters, phone calls, text messages). That person, who I recommend should be the admissions counselor, should be doing the bulk of the communicating with a student/family from start to finish.
  8. Start a conversation about fear. A Director (and reader of this newsletter) did exactly that as part of her open house welcome remarks this past weekend. Multiple parents expressed their appreciation to her.
  9. Use Facebook if you want to tell your stories to parents on social media.
  10. Use Instagram and YouTube to tell your social media story to prospective students.
  11. Most colleges do not produce social media content native to each platform.
  12. Facebook ads and Instagram influencers. Google them both right now, and educate yourself if you haven’t already.
  13. Consider having one or more of your current students Vlog their journey during the school year. I’ve been recommending this to colleges for the last two years and the handful that have listened have seen amazing results. This is the next BIG thing. Be an early adopter.
  14. If you want to increase engagement, change your call to action to a question that asks for the reader’s feedback or opinion on something.
  15. Consistency over volume.
  16. The best idea won’t work without the right execution.
  17. If your current students were tasked with convincing their friends from high school (or community college) to choose your school, how would they do that? You should ask them and then discuss their feedback within your office.
  18. Don’t be afraid to talk about cost, value, and financial aid early on with parents (as well as their son or daughter).
  19. Don’t give up on students who don’t seem to be engaged with your story. Many are still listening and just not responding yet.
  20. As the recruiting process moves forward, the story should get more and more narrow, focused on them specifically.
  21. In many conversations, context matters more than you think.
  22. As you tell different stories, your goal right now in October should be to get them to campus…not to apply. Don’t skip this important step, because the campus visit continues to be where feelings occur and where the decision is made for many.
  23. The campus visit is the most important aspect of your story. Does everyone involved in your visits (namely your tour guides/student ambassadors) understand and believe that? What stories can they tell? And how is your campus visit a different feel from your competitors?
  24. Most parents will vote to have their son or daughter stay close to home, or go to the school that costs less, unless you tell them why your school is the better, smarter choice.
  25. It’s hard to continue to tell your story effectively later in the process if you don’t keep track of previous conversations with students and their parents in your CRM.
  26. Look for objections and enthusiastically address them with prospective students.
  27. A large majority of your admitted students need you to tell them why to pick your school over the others on their list.
  28. Recent student outcomes (by major) are becoming more and more important to this generation of students.
  29. Phone calls will continue to offer massive ROI to those who can execute them correctly. “Voice” leads to deeper relationships.

Recruiting, like story telling, is a process. Respect that process, manage it, and remember, it should always be about them.

October 15th, 2018

9 Signs You’re an Exceptionally Productive College Coach

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

I found this great article written on Inc. by Jeff Haden.  I converted parts of it from a business perspective and applied it to what we do as coaches but the majority of the article is the same.   

The most productive people do a lot more than just stay busy. Many coaches stay busy. After all, checking items off a to-do list isn’t hard.

What’s hard is checking the right things off your to-do list, completing the right projects, and getting the right stuff done. That’s when you go from busy to productive — and in the process become indispensable to your programs success.

Here are some of the things highly productive people do — and why that makes them so valuable:

1. They always start with goals.

Effort without a genuine purpose is just effort. Effective coaches don’t just know what to do–they know why. They have a long-term goal. They have short-term goals that support their long-term goals.

In short, they have purpose–and that purpose informs everything they do. That’s why remarkable people appear so dedicated and organized and consistently on-task. They’re not slaves to a routine; they’re simply driven to reach their goals and quick to eliminate roadblocks and put aside distractions that stand in their way.

Productive people always set their goals first. So decide what success means to you. You’ll find it’s easy to stay focused and be effective when you truly care about what you hope to achieve.

Even so, once they establish a goal, productive people don’t focus solely on that goal; instead …

2. Then they create systems.

As a coach, your goal is to build a successful program. Your system consists of your processes for recruiting, practices, operations, etc.

A goal is great for planning and mapping out what success looks like; a system is great for actually making progress toward that goal.

Productive people know a goal can provide direction and even push them forward in the short term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win.

Everyone has goals; committing to a system makes all the difference in achieving that goal.

3. They believe in themselves.

Diligence isn’t easy. Hard work is hard. Pushing forward when successes are few and far between takes optimism and self-belief.

That’s why busy people quickly give up and effective people keep going.

Productive people embrace the fact (and it is a fact) that the only way to get to where they want to go is to try … and keep on trying.

They know that eventually they will succeed, because …

4. They believe they are in control of their lives.

Many people feel luck — or outside forces — has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them; if they fail, luck was against them.

Luck certainly does play a part, but productive people don’t hope for good luck or worry about bad luck. They assume success is totally within their control. If they succeed, they caused it; if they fail, they caused that, too.

Productive people waste zero mental energy worrying about what might happen to them — they put all their effort into making things happen.

They know they can never control luck … but they can always control themselves.

5. And yet they also embrace “random.”

When your nose is to the grindstone, all you can see is the grindstone. And that means you miss opportunities to spot something new, try something different, or go off on a fruitful tangent.

Busy people stay on-task. So do productive people, but productive people also build in time and opportunity to experience new things, try new methods, and benefit from happy accidents.

They’re not always trying to reinvent the wheel. But they’re more than happy to adopt someone else’s perfectly functioning wheel.

6. They find success in the success of others.

Great teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to help others succeed.

That’s why great companies are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside their personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

Where does that attitude come from?

You.

Focus only on yourself and ultimately you’ll be by yourself. To be productive, find fulfillment in helping other people succeed. In the process you will succeed, too — in more ways than one.

7. They let their goals make their decisions almost automatic.

Tim Ferriss described in a podcast how Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, makes so many decisions every day. Kelleher applies a simple framework to every issue: Will this help Southwest be the low-cost provider? If so, the answer is yes. If not, no.

Productive people apply the same framework to the decisions they make. “Will this help me reach my goal? If not, I won’t do it.”

If you feel like you’re constantly struggling to make decisions, take a step back. Think about your goals; your goals will help you make decisions.

That’s why productive people are so decisive. Indecision is born of a lack of purpose: When you know what you truly want, most of your decisions can — and should — be almost automatic.

8. They rarely multitask.

Plenty of research says multitasking doesn’t work. (Some research says multitasking actually makes you stupid.)

Maybe you don’t agree.

Maybe you’re wrong. Try to do two things at once and you’ll do both half-assed.

Productive people focus on one thing at a time. They do that one thing incredibly well … and then they move on to whatever is next. And they do that incredibly well.

9. They often ask for help.

Busy people ask for help getting something done. Productive people ask for help not just because they need help but also because by asking they show respect for the other person and trust his or her experience, skill, or insight.

Mutual respect is the foundation of every solid relationship–and the best way to create mutual respect is to first show respect.

Want to be more productive? Surround yourself with people who trust and motivate and inspire you — and in turn are inspired by you.

Again, I loved this article and the advice it shared.  I hope that it gets you thinking about how you are currently working and encourages you to tweak and keep tweaking until you find that magic zone where you crush every work day.

Have questions about being more productive as a college coach? Mandy Green can help! Contact her to find out how she works with college coaching staffs around the country at mandy@dantudor.com

October 9th, 2018

Here’s Why You Need Consistency

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Do me a favor and take 10 seconds to think of who the two or three most successful people that you know are. Now, what are some of the things that those people have in common?

For me, the people that I know who are at the top of their fields are consistent in their actions each day…what they do when they wake up, when they get to work, how they lead their team, etc.

Speaking of leadership, which is a topic I’m extremely passionate about and trying to bring more attention to in the world of admissions and higher ed, I would argue that if you’re a leader and you’re not consistent, your team (or whomever you manage) won’t completely buy in and follow you wholeheartedly when you ask them to execute. Some important food for thought.

When it comes to student recruitment, I can’t stress enough the importance of being consistent from start to finish with all of your recruiting communications.

If your office doesn’t have a clear long-term plan to consistently communicate all the different parts of your school’s story and the things that make you unique to both prospective students and parents, student recruitment will be harder for you.

Here’s why consistency works and how it will give you an advantage over your competition:

  1. It gives prospective students a predictable flow of information. As obvious as that may be, there’s still a large number of colleges and universities whose recruiting communications are anything but consistent. Some schools come out of the gate strong for the first month or two with a new prospect or inquiry and then run out of things to say before really gaining traction. Others blast students with information at various points in the funnel but provide little in between. My recommendation is to use the drip method of communication. From start to finish communicate small chunks of information about various aspects of your school that explain why students should want to learn more and take action in your favor. When you extend your messaging out over the entire recruiting cycle, you’ll win over some students simply because other schools fall off.
  2. It plays a role in their decision making. It’s a proven fact – this generation of students appreciates and values when a college consistently stays in touch with them and when they consistently make the process about them. I’ll expand more on that in point number three. When we work with clients and help them develop a messaging campaign for an entire cycle, we often hear stories like the following one from students in the surveys we conduct. When it came time to make a decision between two or three schools and they had to use a tiebreaker, the school that communicated with them the most during the college search process won out. It might not make sense, but consistency is something that matters a lot to this generation of students and it influences their decision-making.
  3. It helps create connections and build trust. I’ve talked before about the importance of having one consistent voice in your recruiting communications (your emails, letters, phone calls, text messages). Instead of sending singular pieces throughout the cycle from your leadership, the admissions counselors, a current student, faculty, etc., establish a point person from the beginning. My recommendation, based on our focus group research, is that your admissions counselors be that person. When you do that it increases the level of personalization, and it sends a clear message to students and parents that your counselors care a great deal and are willing to help problem solve. Over time that will build loyalty and what you’ll find is the student/family continues to interact with you more than your competitors.
  4. Consistency helps prompts a response. Do you ever wonder what prospective students and parents think about the recruiting emails and letters that you send them? You should. The easiest way to find out is to consistently ask for their opinion and feedback on various things, not just pushing them to visit and apply all the time. When you have a call to action like this it gives them a safe, non-committal way to connect with you. Doing so will lead to another layer of demonstrated interest. Keep in mind that it may take you three, five, or even ten times to get that response, but remain consistent and stay the course. A lot of your prospects tell us that they’re looking for a reason and permission to reach out and contact you. Most won’t do it on their own because of fear, but the more they see you consistently asking for their opinion and feedback, the easier it becomes for them to engage.

I hope these four points got you thinking a little bit…or maybe a lot.

A word of caution – schools can be consistent but with a poor message. Dan (Tudor) and I see it happen all the time. Generating a weak message consistently can sometimes be as bad as getting a great message out randomly.

Let me give you one more related piece of advice that may be helpful. Consistency also builds discipline. It can help you put structure into your day, and that will lead to greater productivity and efficiency.

I hope you have an amazing rest of your week! 🙂 And if you use Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, click on those icons at the top of this article and follow me for more tips, strategies, and behind the scenes content.

October 9th, 2018

Why Every Smart Head Coach Needs to Learn to Delegate

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

This seems to be the favorite saying of a lot of the coaches that I am working with. To me, it says a great deal about their willingness to delegate. These coaches work non-stop morning to night, and still do (although they are getting better), because they somehow can’t embrace the notion that it’s possible to get things done any other way.

Beneath the many excuses for not delegating lays the reason why many of us coaches avoid delegating things:  True delegation means giving up a little of what we would like to hold onto (some measure of control) while keeping what we might prefer to give up (accountability).
Delegation is an area of personal and professional management that many coaches struggle with. The difficulty stems from our need to control outcomes and a strongly rooted belief that we know how to do things best.

It’s often a scary prospect even to think about letting someone else take over a task or duty we’ve been doing for a while:

What if they don’t do it correctly?
What if the outcome is not up to my standards?
What if they don’t do it the way I’ve been doing it?
What if I become less essential to my program?
What if, (gasp), they do it better than me?

Think about it coach. By nature we love to keep control. We also fear the repercussions when our support staff fails to complete something correctly or in a timely manner. The failure might reflect badly on us so we take the path of least resistance. Rather than working on improving our delegation skills to the other coaches we work with, sometimes we simply keep hold of more tasks. That way we can make sure things are done completely the way we want them done. Being overworked somehow seems less risky than having things done that might not meet our exact requirements.

Delegation means taking true responsibility and inevitably means giving up some control. If that sounds a bit scary, how can you overcome your mindset and become a better delegator? Here are some tips:

Realize that you just can’t do it all. Everyone has limits. If you fail to acknowledge yours, you will burn out. Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not even next year, but the stress and pressure of trying to do it all will get you eventually.

Start small. Delegation is a skill and learning it needs patience, persistence, and practice. Start by giving away small, uncomplicated tasks. As your confidence grows so will your willingness to delegate more.

Realize that “Your Way” is not always the “Only Way.” A big part of letting go is the fear that the task will not be done “right.” Consider that there are other ways to achieve the same result.

Work on giving others the tools to do what you do. Delegation will only work if you help your support staff succeed. So make sure he or she has the right resources and then keep communicating, participating and supporting your staff. Remember, delegation means NOT abdicating your responsibility, so you need to make sure you have done everything you can to influence a successful outcome.

Appreciate others’ accomplishments. You might be bored with organizing on-campus visits, but if one of your coaches has never done it, the challenge can be exciting, invigorating, and motivating. The successful outcome is not just a well-organized visit. It’s the opportunity for someone else to shine and get recognized for their achievements.

Seize the opportunity to work on more stimulating projects. The less time you spend on lower level tasks, the more time you have to concentrate on your main objectives. (You know the ones, the really important issues that keep getting shoved to the bottom of the pile because you’re so overloaded…)

Use the leverage. Delegation can put the right people on the right tasks. And the better allocated your coaches and staff are, the greater the productivity, effectiveness and the opportunity for organizational growth.

Delegation, when done well, benefits everyone. You have more time to concentrate on the main responsibilities of your position. Your support staff will have more opportunities to expand and enrich their jobs. An added bonus is the fact that because delegation relieves your own time pressures, the job gets done better in the long run.

So, cast off your preconceptions about delegation! You were doing a good job before: You can do even better when you delegate more. With a fresh perspective and little courage to “let go”, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve!

October 2nd, 2018

NACAC and Why This One Thing Matters So Much!

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

If you read my newsletter frequently, then you know I’m always on the lookout for real life examples with practical applications that I can turn into articles. I even have a friend who’s an Executive Director of Admissions who asks me each time I see him if he’s going to end up in an article one day. Not today, but I was ironically with him at last week’s NACAC National Conference, more specifically the counselors’ college fair, when today’s article came to me.

Body language matters! I’ll explain why in just a minute.

If you want to become a better admissions counselor or leader, every aspect of communication (even the nonverbal kind) is important as you try and connect with a prospective student or parent, or when you try and lead your staff. We all give and receive signals every single day…things like how fast or loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make, and the gestures we make. Even when we stand and don’t say a word, we’re still communicating non-verbally.

Throughout last week’s conference in Salt Lake City, I saw numerous examples of good and bad body language. I saw vendors who were overbearing, moving around too much, looking around while talking to people, and standing in a manner that was standoffish. And I saw admissions counselors at the counselors’ college fair having relaxed, easy going conversations with each other…smiling, laughing, hugging, and eyes totally locked in. There’s more, but I’m sure you get the point I’m making.

Why is this important? Because body language can totally change how you, me, your colleagues, and your prospective students interpret messages. Did you know that some studies have shown as much as 70% of our communication is done non-verbally? Crazy, right!

Knowing all of this, the first piece of advice I want to give you is if your prospect’s words don’t match his or her body language, you’d be smart to rely on body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. This goes for things like college fairs and high school visits.

Here’s another important reason that body language needs to be something you think about. Research shows that we decide in the first few moments of meeting someone whether or not we like them, and in some cases, feel like we can trust them. You can create a favorable first impression and build rapport quickly by using “open” body language. In addition to smiling and making eye contact, show the palms of your hands, talk slowly and normally, and keep your arms unfolded and your legs uncrossed.

When you’re at college fairs, doing high school visits, or leading an information session during a campus visit event, are you looking at your audience or are you staring at your PowerPoint or the marketing materials that you brought along? How’s your energy level?

Does your body language mirror that of the person you’re talking to? Mirroring indicates interest and approval.

All of this matters…a lot! You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

One final point – It’s hard to fake nonverbal communication. Some people can sit a certain way or shake hands in a way that makes them appear confident. The truth is that likely won’t work unless you truly feel confident and in control. This is something that I talk about a lot with young, new admissions counselors. You can’t control all of the signals you’re constantly sending off about what you’re really thinking and feeling.

Body language is a great way to gauge how your prospect, or anyone for that matter, is responding to what you’re telling them, but you have to be very aware of what to look for and what you’re communicating to them.

I hope this was helpful. Reply back and let me know. And if you have questions about anything I’ve said, I’m all ears, so let’s start a conversation.

See you back here next Tuesday!

October 1st, 2018

I’m Busting My Butt, Yet I Just Can’t Win

by Mike Davenport, Coaching Sports Today

Years ago I was sitting in the locker room. Head-in-hands.

I remember saying these words out loud.

I’m Busting My Butt, Yet I Just Can’t Win

It was like fingernails being dragged down a blackboard.

I was frustrated. Confused. Couldn’t see my way ahead.

That’s when a fellow coach gave me a piece of advice I have never forgotten

I want to share it with you.

He told me:

Stop being a jerk. Figure out what ‘winning’ means for you.

I remember looking at him and thinking he was nuts.

We all know what winning is

Don’t we?

It’s thrusted on coaches that “winning” is beating the other team.

And most coaches are good with that.

But are you? I’m not.

Is it possible that winning has a different definition?

For example, I know fellow coaches who get very excited about:

  • Their team’s graduation rate
  • An alum who achieves her dream
  • A successful fundraising project
  • An athlete completing the course he never thought he could
  • Teaching the sports skills, strategies, tactics

They define winning in those terms. Yes, those coaches care what the score is when their contest is over…but it does not define winning for them.

If this sounds anything like you, then you might find the following steps helpful.

Step 1: Define winning

It’s critical you know exactly what “winning” is—for you.

You might have to go to your athletic director or supervisor to figure this out.

This is critical, because, face it, if where you work has a sole focus on the won/loss record, AND your definition of “winning” is your team’s graduation rate, then frustration looms in your future.

So take a few minutes and define “winning.”

I did, and it changed everything for me.

Step 2: Identify the pieces it takes to get to the win

After you define winning, relative to you, figure out the pieces of the puzzle you need to get you there.

For instance, in my sport of rowing there are five critical pieces to make a boat go fast:

  1. the athlete
  2. training
  3. technique
  4. equipment
  5. rigging

Without those five pieces the chances of a rowing shell being competitive are greatly reduced.

If I want to be competitive in a race, I need to have those pieces in place.

So what are you pieces? Get them out in front of you—write them down.

Step 3: Focus solely on those pieces

Be singular in your focus…laser-like.

You now know what your definition of winning is, and you know the pieces needed to take to get you there. Now go get ’em Coach.

Simple.

Take action dedicated to putting the pieces in place.

That probably means you need to get off social media.

That probably means some of the things you don’t like doing you need to do.

And that also probably means you need help somewhere along the line.

Step 4: Get help

Yeah, you might be able to do this on your own.

But you probably could do it faster, cheaper, smarter, and easier with help.

It will also be a lot more fun with help.

I’d still be in that locker room feeling sorry for myself if it wasn’t for that coach.

Sometimes a buddy, friend, mentor or even a stranger can make all the difference.

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