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Developing Your Recruiting RelationshipTuesday, July 26th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

At a time when colleges and universities are looking especially hard at the bottom line, admissions professionals must be able to consistently market and sell their school to prospective students and their parents. That’s the bottom line.

One of the biggest challenges we’re often asked to address during our On-Campus Training Workshops is how to get and keep the attention of today’s prospects. It’s an on-going battle that’s for sure. If the teenager or twenty something on the other end wants to ignore your recruiting message, you can’t stop him or her. What you can do however is provide them with compelling reasons to choose your school over the competition.

Here’s even better news! You don’t need to have a big time budget to successfully communicate your message and cultivate a positive relationship. You just need a few easy strategies that savvy business professionals use on a daily basis.

Think about how you develop relationships in your personal life. Any good relationship is built on trust. When there’s trust, there’s loyalty. When a relationship has those two characteristics that means there’s a genuine concern for each others’ well being.

Your recruiting relationships should be developed the same way. You cannot expect your recruit and his or her parents to commit to your institution if they don’t trust you. When you build trust, loyalty will follow. Your recruits will want to continue to interact with you rather than your competitors.

It’s important to start establishing those real, caring, long-term relationships with your prospects early in the recruitment process. If you do, you’ll have an easy time proving to your recruits (and their parents and others around them) that you’re concerned about them, and want to help solve their problems. You’re not just there trying to sell a college. You’re there to help.

If you want to differentiate yourself from admissions counselors who will read this and then forget about it later today, try these four proven strategies for establishing those all-important prospect relationships:

  1. Be specific when telling your recruiting story. Are you currently developing a story that tells your prospects something very specific or very memorable about your institution? Sometimes a specific focus can help you tell your school’s story in a much more compelling way, and give recruits a reason to listen to what you’re saying.
  2. Understand that different recruits have different problems. If you’re an avid reader of this newsletter, you know that your recruits all have worries, fears and hopes. Here’s the thing. Those of a traditional student (teenager) are going to be very different from those of a non-traditional student (single parent, mid-career professional). If you don’t believe that then you’ll rarely connect with prospects the way you need to if they’re going to enroll at your school. It’s your job to try and put yourself in each recruit’s shoes and develop separate messaging that will truly help them. When you do that you’re sending a strong message that you care.
  3. Make your recruiting messages personal. When you effectively use personalization during the recruitment process you stand out from the crowd. To build a close relationship with your prospect and his or her family you must communicate on a personal level no matter the type of contact. That includes mail, email, phone calls, social media and face-to-face contact. I understand doing this will take up more time and involve some creative thinking. The end result will be a feeling of being wanted. That’s something that every single prospective student is looking for.
  4. Commit to utilizing social media. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about your admissions Facebook page (although that’s not a bad idea either). I want you to invest more in your personal SM accounts. If you don’t you’re missing out on a prime opportunity to reveal the “real you,” as well as offer a behind the scenes look at what makes life at your school so great. As always, no matter what type of communication you use, you must be consistent if you expect favorable results.

A quick word of caution. Don’t ever pretend to be someone you’re not. Your sincerity, or lack thereof, will always shine through.  Teenagers today are smart.  They know when you’re telling them the truth and when you’ve embellished a little too much.

These four strategies will help you quickly establish real rapport with your prospects, and in the end increase your school’s chances of enrolling them.

We help colleges and universities improve their recruiting relationships year-round. If you have a specific question or want help developing a winning strategy call me at 612-386-0854…or just send me an email.

 

And the Award Goes to…Monday, July 18th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

For many people, like my wife, award shows are can’t miss television.

Last week I watched the ESPYs (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards). Once a year ESPN assembles some of the greatest athletes in the world all under one roof and then celebrates and relives the best moments of the past calendar year.

Award shows highlight the amazing work of people in any given industry or profession.  In addition to that, they bring about healthy competition and allow for both personal and team growth.

In honor of the ESPYs, last July I came up with the inaugural TCS Awards for college admissions. There is one small difference. I’m not actually handing out trophies to specific people today. Instead, I’m going to give you some very important reminders and strategies that will help you as you begin to recruit this next class of students.

Here we go.  And the award goes to:

Courage Award – This award goes to the Admissions Director who scrutinizes their recruiting communication plan every single year. I’m not referring to your marketing materials…they aren’t one in the same. You can’t expect to increase enrollment if you don’t have a consistent comm. flow plan that contains messages that engage both prospects and parents all year long. Even if you only fine-tune a few emails and letters, it’s vital that you figure out what messages are resonating and which ones are falling short. For many directors, that may very well mean you have to forget the letter writing rules of the past.

Best Breakthrough Counselor – This award goes to the counselor who made a significant breakthrough in their recruiting techniques. Instead of using the “blanket approach”, they understand that different recruits have different problems as well as different wants and needs. If you ask the right questions at the right points in the process, you will obtain useful information that will aid you in their individual recruitment.

Best Championship Performance – This award goes to the counselor, new or veteran, who has delivered the best performance turning admits into deposits. They create an emotional tie with their prospects early in the process because prospects trust those feelings as they make their final decision about your college or university. Those are the feelings you create through the various methods of recruiting communication as well as the feelings they get when they visit your campus.

Best Director/VP of Enrollment – This award goes to the Director or Vice President of Enrollment who creates and maintains a motivated and confident admissions team. They understand that, just like today’s recruit, each of their staff members is different and has different motivations. As a leader, they are consistent with their message, ask for input and new ideas, and understand the importance of both ownership and recognition. This year’s winner also values collaborating with other offices on campus, specifically financial aid. They set up cross training between their counselors and those in financial aid so that skill sets are expanded and time is used more efficiently.

Best Upset Award – This award goes to the counselor who isn’t afraid to go up against the big name competition because they know they have a winning strategy. That strategy uses multiple communication channels to deliver a consistent series of short, logical, fact-based messages as to why your school is the “right fit.” It also contains an explanation of why being the smaller name is the smarter choice. The academic reputation at your school, the smaller class sizes and individual attention…whatever makes the most sense for you to stress to your recruit. It needs to be something.

Best Comeback Award – This award goes to the counselor who doesn’t avoid talking about objections and instead confronts negatives that they consistently hear about their school early on. They anticipate the common ones (like financial aid), get clarification, acknowledge and add information, and become a problem solver for their prospect.

Best Moment Award – This award goes to the counselor whose hard work is rewarded in a major way when they get a big YES after they “ask for the sale”. Most admissions counselors rarely “ask for the sale”, instead assuming that their prospect will just tell them whenever they make their final college decision. I want you to remember that if you’ve built trust, understood your prospect’s individual needs, and answered any objections, the next logical step is to ask for this.

Thanks for being a part of the 2nd Annual TCS Admissions Awards, and enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll see you next year with more awards for admissions professionals.

We continue to help admissions departments GROW and WIN by taking a systematic, research-based approach to developing the right recruiting messaging. If you’d like to talk about how we can do that for you and your admissions team this year, email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

4 Important Things About Communicating With This Next ClassTuesday, July 12th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

The other day during a phone conversation with an admissions counselor he referred to talking with prospective students as “complicated”. I’m sure many of you would echo that sentiment.

As you prepare to have conversations with a brand new class of prospects, I want to give you some advice on how to not only communicate but also connect with them. You’ll have to pick and choose which of these ideas apply best to you, the way you talk, and your approach with your prospects, but I think you’ll find this a good starting point on the road to connecting with this generation of students (and quite possibly their parents).

Most admissions offices around the country have officially started the formal recruitment process with a new class of prospective students. The first letters, emails, phone calls and social media messages have been sent. And, if you’re fortunate, maybe you’ve had some of your prospects reply to your initial outreach efforts. I say “maybe” because our research continues to show that fewer students these days are actually reading what you’re sending.

Regardless, you’re now faced with the daunting question of, “What’s next?”

The answer to that question is crucial. In fact, it will undoubtedly determine what kind of applicant pool you end up with in the months to come.

Having said that, I want to outline a few key, successful approaches that we’ve seen work on a consistent basis for our clients around the country. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a public or private institution, or you have a small, medium, or large student enrollment. As you review these strategies, I encourage you to adapt them to your individual situation.

  • Be comfortable with asking your prospects which social media platforms they use and if it’s okay to communicate with them through those networks.  Our expanding research on this topic indicates there’s one very important “rule” for this generation: Different students have different rules. A large number of students we’re hearing from indicate that they have absolutely no problems with an admissions counselor following them or direct-messaging them on social media.  There is however a good size group of students that has no desire to interact with admissions on social media. In their minds it’s their space to communicate with their friends.  My advice to you is to ask each prospect what they’re okay with. Let them know the reason you’re asking is because you want to be the counselor who communicates with them the way they want to be communicated with. What you’ll find is they will appreciate you asking, rather than just assuming it’s okay.
  • Engage with your prospects’ parents…and start early. As I explain in our On-Campus Workshops that I lead for admissions departments, this generation of prospects not only wants their parents to be involved in the recruitment process, but they expect it. Knowing this fact, my recommendation to you, is you should be okay with talking to your prospects’ parents in place of your prospect…not every time, but most of the time. They’ll usually speak truthfully for their son or daughter and actually provide you with intelligent, useable information.  That in and of itself isn’t breaking news. However, a big mistake that we continue to see admissions departments make is delaying contact until later in the process (i.e. after their child applies or visits campus). I want you to work to establish that same emotional connection with the parents of your prospects from the beginning.  Call them, email them, ask them questions, and engage them. If you do, what you’ll find is that they’re ready with really useful information, and more importantly, they will come to view you as the counselor and school that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruitment process of their son or daughter.
  • It’s all about the back and forth conversation. All of your communication should focus on building and strengthening the relationship between you and your prospect.  That doesn’t happen if what you’re sending them doesn’t prompt them to feel more connected with you. If letters and emails have started to go out and you’re not getting responses and learning key pieces of information about your prospects, you’re falling behind. Back and forth communication is vital! It starts by crafting messages with information that your prospects care about and that promotes engagement.  In addition, you need to ask the right questions at the right times, and then listen and gather information that you can use in future communications. Without back and forth conversation, it’s going to be very hard for you to determine if a prospective student is actually reading what you’re sending, finds it appealing, and if it aligns with what they’re looking for in a college.
  • Become a problem solver for your prospects. It’s something they tell us they want from admissions time and time again when we do focus group research on campuses across the country. In fact, here’s one response from a survey last month that drives home this point (The question asked was what do admissions counselors need to do differently or better as they communicate with this next incoming class):I had one really good counselor and one not so good. The really good counselor was very quick to respond to my emails and questions and always found an answer if they didn’t know it themselves. My not-so-good counselor just threw pamphlets at me and did not help me find answers to my questions.” Which one of those counselors are you?

Not getting responses to your early letters and emails? Don’t have separate messaging for parents? We can solve both of those problems for you. If you’d like to know how, simply click this link and email me.

Which One of These Are You?Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend! Now, let’s discuss another strategy that can help you become a more dominant recruiter.

Here’s a fact: Prospective students (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).

The key to successful selling, otherwise known as student recruitment, is to be a resource rather than a salesperson.

I’m constantly asked, “What do my prospects really want from me?” The answer is actually rather simple. They want to feel that you’re genuinely trying to help them achieve their goals.

Here’s what I mean. A lot of admissions counselors believe they have to “sell” their school early in the process and try to move prospects as fast as possible towards applying, visiting, and ultimately making a decision. Each of those is important, but what if I told you I think there’s a more effective approach that you could take. It’s one that will still allow you to achieve those goals and at the same time do it in a way that consistently makes your prospects feel like you’re actually making them a valued partner in a process that’s supposed to be about their wants and needs in the first place.

If you approach your prospects with information and bullet points about your school, they’re going to view you as a salesperson.  However, if you ask your prospects effective questions about them, and provide them with ideas and answers that help them meet their goals, they’re going to see you as a resource. And, in the process of taking that approach what you’ll find is you still have the opportunity to discuss key things that make your college or university unique and a good fit for that student (aka selling).

There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them.  If you connect with them, they’ll see you as someone they can trust.  When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice.   Add it all up, and you significantly increase the chances of your prospects applying, visiting, and choosing your institution.

When you’re a salesperson it’s all about you, what you want them to do, and why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school.

Does that mean if you’re a salesperson you won’t be able to connect with and gain your prospect’s trust? No, but I promise you it won’t be easy, and it’s going to take a lot more time and effort than you probably have available.

Like we outline with new clients, early in the recruitment process it’s vital that you connect with your prospects. If you don’t connect with them, it makes it much harder to convert admits into deposits.

Sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has a great rule to remember when you’re in a selling (recruiting) situation: The percent of time your prospect does the talking dictates your chances of securing their commitment.  If they talk 20% of the time, you’ll probably have a 20% chance of enrolling them.  If they talk 80% of the time, you’ll probably have an 80% chance of enrolling them.

Gitomer’s point? If you want to sell your prospect that your school is the “right fit” for them, you need to give them the answers they need.  You need to be the resource they’re searching for, and you need to do it by making everything you do and say about your prospect and not about you.

The minute you cease to be attentive to their wants and needs, you run the risk of losing them to a competing school that will be.

Here are a few additional things you can do to become a resource for your prospects:

  • Respond quickly & deliver information in an easy to understand, engaging format
  • Stay current on trends and pop culture
  • Continually polish your sales and problem solving skills
  • Consistently network and exchange ideas with other admissions professionals
  • Admit when you don’t know something (then let them know you’ll find out)

Here’s my recommendation to you: Check your brochures, your recruiting letters, and your talking points during phone calls and campus visits.  How much of each is centered on your prospect, and how much of it is stuff you’re pushing about you and your school?

If you like the advice you’re getting in our newsletter you’ll love the one-on-one access you have to our staff and the extra training you and your colleagues will get as one of our clients. Click here for all the information.

How to Make Sure Your Recruiting Messages Get ReadTuesday, June 28th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Two of the ongoing challenges for many admissions and enrollment teams across the country are:

  • Getting a prospective student to open the communications that come after your first letter or email
  • Getting the student to actually read those subsequent letters and emails

I didn’t even mention whether or not the words and tone of your emails and letters actually make an impact in the mind of the student reading it.

I think we can all agree that we live in a “buyer’s market” for students when it comes to selecting a college. Today’s student has options and approaches the process from a different angle.

That means your recruiting communication plan shouldn’t have the same look and feel as it did even five years ago. It’s an important piece of a winning recruiting strategy and needs to constantly be scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb.

Today I want to focus on your recruiting letters and emails and how to get your prospects to pay more attention to them.  The more effective you are in your writing, the better you’ll be able to tell your school’s unique story to your recruits.

Here’s something else that you need to know! Our research shows that a prospective student will most often draw their initial picture of your school through the letters and email messages that they receive.

See if you can apply these four proven tips to your recruiting messages to get a more meaningful response from your prospects:

  1. Make it look more like a website. According to studies, most of us today ‘scan’ websites for information.  Do your letters and emails have the same look and feel of a website?  If not, you’re not taking advantage of our society’s preferred method of looking for (and finding) information.  The days of trying to cram all the facts you can about your school in small font are over.  Short, logical, fact-based messages is the strategy I want you to employ. Your recruiting letters need to look, sound and “feel” different than they probably do now.
  2. Questions, questions, questions. Our research also finds that today’s generation of students wants and needs you to ask them questions.  Some prospects don’t know what to ask you, while others are just too scared to do so.  Even if they don’t answer every question you ask in a letter or an email, they will actively engage with you in their mind.  Eventually, they stand a better chance of replying to you and taking the next step in the recruiting process.  Generating that back and forth communication doesn’t happen by accident. Make sure you ask them the right questions at the right time in the right way.
  3. Be bold and use bold. Bold type is another way to set your ideas in motion with your prospects.  We see a lot of letters that admissions or marketing write with bold type in a traditional place…usually at the beginning of a sentence or main idea.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, if you really want to interrupt your prospect’s train of thought, try bold face type at the end of a main idea.  That way, they’ll have to re-read what you were talking about before the boldface type, which further engages your reader.
  4. Forget the rules. The writing rules that is. We’ve all learned way too many letter-writing rules. And, honestly, they’re getting in the way of your messages being read by a large group of your prospects.  As I’ve explained before, your letters and emails shouldn’t look and sound like the NFL rulebook.  Instead, think, “If I were in a room with my one of my prospects and I needed to get his/her attention, engage him/her, and present reasons why they should want to be a part of our student body, what would I say to him/her?” Then, let the conversation flow naturally.  What I think you’ll find is what our clients already know – less formal and more conversational not only works but also does not make you sound any less professional.

Those are four very easy, very effective ways to re-capture the attention of your recruits when they get one of your envelopes or open one of your emails.

If you want to take your recruiting to the next level and truly deliver outstanding customer service, re-read some of the letters and emails that went out this past year with your name on it. Ask yourself if they look and sound like something that one of your prospects might want to read and (more importantly) respond to.

Would you like even more help? I’m happy to look over one of your messages and offer honest feedback free of charge. All you have to do is ask…which you can do by clicking this link and emailing me.

Establishing Trust With Prospects and ParentsTuesday, June 21st, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Why is it that many of us don’t hesitate to sponsor or donate money to one of the neighborhood kids when they ring the doorbell with that Jump Rope for Heart form? What’s our primary reason for buying Girl Scout cookies other than the fact that they taste really good?

Conversely, why do we try and get off the phone as fast possible when a telemarketer calls?

It boils down to trust. The organization sponsoring the child from our neighborhood or those girls selling cookies has spent years building trust, and we have faith that our donation is going to a worthwhile cause. The reason we don’t trust the telemarketer that calls is because we don’t know him or her, and something just doesn’t feel right about a complete stranger calling us at home to sell us something.

The gut reaction we have to each of those scenarios has big implications for college admissions professionals.

Most of us don’t like interacting with people we don’t feel like we can trust. Prospective students and parents are no different. Establishing trust with them early on is an important element of the college search process that often times we see admissions undervalue. Without trust, how can the student believe that your school will deliver on those statements or assurances that get made during the recruiting cycle?

Lately I’ve been talking to a number of admissions directors who are reassessing how their institution interacts with prospects and parents. If you’re doing the same or plan to have discussions about your communications during an upcoming retreat, I encourage you to remember that the same factors you use to judge the trustworthiness of people and organizations are being used by this generation of prospects, and their parents, to judge your trustworthiness.  Many of those prospects and parents tell us that early in the process they’re figuring out whether or not to have a serious interaction with your school based on whether they feel like they can trust you or not.

The decision to interact happens before your prospect actually listens to what you have to say. How you construct your letters, what you say in your emails, the layout of your website, and how you interact with them on social media will determine whether or not you get to communicate with that prospect.

I’ll bet you might be surprised at how many different types of interactions factor into whether or not a new prospect chooses to trust you enough to communicate with you or a member of your admissions team.  Here are a few of the most important:

What your website and email templates look like: When they look at those properties, which studies say they do, what’s the brand image that comes to their mind?  If you’re a smaller school, do you look like the bigger brand institutions?  If you’re a well-known college or university, how are you separating yourself from your other big-name competitors?  These are serious questions that you need to consistently ask.

Your first letter or email between you and your prospect: Does it look and sound like everybody else’s, because I can guarantee you that when you reach out and communicate with a prospective student for the first time the way your message is worded is going to determine whether or not they feel you’re worth interacting with. When you’re writing your message, does it sound like you would if you were talking face to face with your prospect?  Or, does it sound so formal that your prospect is going to know it’s the typical, mass mail, semi-personalized message they’ve become used to seeing from your competition?

What they’ve heard about you:  If your prospect has heard good things about your school from people he or she knows, the entire relationship changes. You automatically get the benefit of the doubt. That begs the question: What are you doing to make sure that your current students, as well as the students (and their parents) who chose another college instead of yours, experience superior customer service? Remember, you can actually control what they’re saying.

Their fear:  As we talk about extensively in our On-Campus Workshop that we conduct for college admissions departments, your recruit’s fear is present throughout the recruiting experience.  What are you doing to answer that fear?  How are you doing that early on as well as late in the process? If you don’t think their fear matters, you’d be wrong, and I’d strongly encourage you to read my article in last week’s newsletter.

What you’re asking them to do early on: If you’re asking a prospect to reply to your email early in the recruiting process, there’s a decent chance that’s going to happen.  On the contrary, counselors and schools who want to jump into an early conversation about a campus visit or filling out the application immediately might be going too fast, too soon.  Urgency like that rarely leads to increased trust from your prospect. Be mindful of what you’re asking them to do and whether or not you’ve given then ample reasons as to why they should.

What they see about you social media:  How well you post on Facebook, Instagram and the other social media platforms matters to this generation of prospects.  In fact, it matters a lot!  Your online presence is one of the most immediate impressions that gets formed by your recruit.  And in most cases it helps to determine how much interaction they wish to have with you and whether or not they’re excited to learn more about your school.

You understand it’s about them:  How are you proving that you understand the college search process is about their wants and needs and not why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school?  More importantly, how are you communicating that?

Your honesty:  This generation of prospects and their parents are actively searching for people who prove they’re honest.  It’s vital that you demonstrate that honesty and showcase it to them through your recruiting emails and letters.  Don’t be the counselor who, in trying to build trust, over promises and under delivers. You need to repeatedly demonstrate that you are the counselor they can trust.  That means from time to time it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong or your school isn’t better than a competitor in a particular area. The counselors who are trusted always end up with a decisive advantage.

How consistent you are in your recruitment efforts: How much did you communicate with this next class of prospects when they were juniors? Do you have consistent messaging for transfer students? These are important questions in the minds of your prospects.  When we work with new clients and take their admissions team through a series of focus group questions to determine how best to help formulate their recruiting strategy, one of the most common themes that stands out as being vitally important to prospects is how consistent a counselor or school is in the way they communicate.  If your school sends a couple of messages at the start, and then is hit-and-miss during the rest of the recruiting process, you’re probably going to get labeled as inconsistent.  If this sounds like you, then make a change now because our research shows that’s going to hurt you when your prospect reaches their final decision.

Since you’re going to be judged by this generation of prospects, doesn’t it make sense to make sure you’re taking an intelligent, thorough approach to establishing trust?

Good luck!

Jeremy Tiers and the team of recruiting experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies answer questions and work with admissions professionals of all levels every day.  If you have a question, just email Jeremy at jeremy@dantudor.com

What Are You Doing About Your Prospect’s Fear?Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Yesterday my daughter had a dentist appointment. Nothing major, just one of those twice a year check-ups.

During breakfast she said, “Daddy, the one thing that’s scary about the dentist is the sucking thing they put in your mouth.” The technical term for that long dental suction tool is a saliva ejector (I Googled it because I was curious).

On the drive over, and while we waited for her to be called back, again she mentioned the “sucking thing” and her fear of it. I calmed her down by telling her that Daddy has the same thing put in his mouth every time he goes to the dentist for a check-up.

Do you get nervous if you have to give a speech or presentation? Do you hate heights? How about spiders and insects? Or maybe, like my daughter, you dislike those trips to the dentist.

It’s all about our fear of fear.

Now let’s apply this to prospective students, who in many cases, have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.

If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.

They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear.  They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong.  Sounds crazy, right? Like it or not, that’s who you’re recruiting.

Your job, if you’re going to be a dominant recruiter and truly be your prospects’ “go to person”, is to find out what scares them and address it.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for our clients around the country.

  • Focus on their feeling of being fearful.  It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling your school by talking about last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle.  Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
  • Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit? Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation!  It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the college search process?” This is an extremely effective question early in the recruiting cycle. If you don’t ask it, you’re missing out on a BIG opportunity to both solve a problem and develop trust.
  • Tell them what you think they’re thinking.  Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about and see if they agree with you or not.  It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking.  Is it confusing? Yes.  Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.

These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.

Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruitment process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust and in turn be way ahead of the competition who doesn’t believe this is important or doesn’t know how to address fear.

FREE HELP! Yes you read that correctly. If you’ve got a question about recruiting, leadership or anything else that can help you do your job more effectively, simply send me an email or call me directly at 612-386-0854.

4 Facts That Matter to Your Prospective StudentsTuesday, June 7th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

You throw them around all the time.

You use them to sell your college or university, and you brag about them in an attempt to separate your school from a competitor.

Facts.  We’re talking about facts.

But which facts are worth talking about, and which ones just take up space in your messages to prospective students?  Furthermore, are some facts that you present actually hurting your recruiting efforts?

While this generation of students does rely on facts about a college or university to form their overall opinion of the school, we’ve found that it’s most effective when admissions recruiters tie those facts directly to a benefit the student will receive.

This is a very important distinction that admissions counselors need to begin implementing.  Again, when you state a fact as a selling point of your institution, it is vital that you take the extra step in explaining to your prospect exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact.

Why is that worthwhile? Our ongoing research continues to find that many prospects don’t usually “connect the dots” between the benefits that your school offers and what it means for them personally. They also, as I’ve explained many times before, rely largely on feelings to help them make their final decision.

When you’re able to communicate facts that will personally benefit a prospective student, and get them to understand those selling points, you win, more often than not. Good feelings about your school coupled with these personalized facts are almost impossible to ignore.

Here are 4 facts that we’re seeing recruits rate as very important in their decision-making process:

  • Your on-campus housing. Interestingly, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win.  Instead, you need to make sure your prospective students understand how they will have fun living there and how easy it will be for them to make new friends, “fit in”, and enjoy campus life. By the way, your current student’s opinions and personal stories go the furthest in selling your on-campus housing to your recruits.
  • The food on campus.  Prove to prospective students that they will eat well, and you’ll have an advantage over your competition just about every single time.
  • How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school.  Every admissions counselor in America loves to talk about the academic strengths of his or her school.  I’m here to tell you that you’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect (and their parents) with real-life examples as to how your school is going to better prepare them to find and successfully start a career.
  • How the admissions staff, and how current students, treat them during their campus visit. Regardless of location or school size or type, these two factors rank at or near the top on almost every single focus group survey we’ve done over the past year. Today’s generation of students can easily spot the difference between those who are acting friendly and welcoming, and those who truly are. We see quotes all the time that contain phrases like, “everybody was welcoming and you could tell they really love their school”, and “the student ambassadors were super friendly and could answer or give a polite response to all of my father’s hundred questions!”

The improper use of facts is a major problem in student recruitment.  We see and hear about it almost daily.

If your admissions and enrollment team commits themselves to taking the extra step of stressing facts that prospective students care about, as well as finding how best to tie those facts personally to those students, you’ll gain the upper-hand over your competitors who are content with reading this research and then choosing not to change the way they are telling their story.

Tudor Collegiate Strategies can help you formulate your strategy when it comes to presenting facts about your school that get attention.  We can take our research and put it to work for you making a big difference in your overall recruiting efforts.  To learn more, simply contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

The Social Media MeltTuesday, June 7th, 2016

counselor-brianThis is the fourth and final post in a series from a college admissions counselor attempting to navigate the current admissions recruiting cycle. He is Brian Switay, assistant director of recruitment in his second year at Stevens Institute of Technology, a private research university in Hoboken, New Jersey.  His stories are intended to provide an inside look at the challenges he faces as he aspires to grow and advance in the profession.

In his first post, which you can read here, Switay talked about keeping up with the inquiries.  His second post offered tips to help other counselors successfully climb the admissions ladder.  The third installment focused on admitted student days and bringing in the best class possible.

By Brian Switay:

Ahh, summer is almost here. Time for vacations, lounging on the beach, ice cream, long walks and exploring boardwalks and amusement parks. However, the summer also brings the dreaded summer melt! With more and more students double depositing it seems as though summer melt has been increasing each and every year. So, what can you do?

I would like to use this article to encourage each of you to partake in a virtual chat room, if you will. Please join me on Twitter @brianatstevens and share with me your summer melt strategies.

Today however, I will share some ideas with you first. There has been a lot of discussion about which ideas and implementations will help deter melt from happening, which are controversial and reasons that some schools are not reaching out to students at all.

One of the “newest” forms of reducing summer melt is the almighty text-messaging avenue. Students seem to always have their phones attached to them but never pick up the phone when you call. Schools have resorted to reaching out to students through this medium. According to The Social and Behavioral Science Team through the US Government, 20-30% of college-accepted high school graduates fail to matriculate in college in the fall (https://sbst.gov/projects/reducing-summer-melt/). By sending students personalized text messages with key dates to remember, studies have shown that 68 percent of students, who were sent the text message, enrolled in the college in the fall. However, 64% of students who did not receive the text message also enrolled. So, does this medium really work?

At Stevens we have not yet put our proverbial toe into the texting world. I personally feel as though texting is still an invasive practice that if used incorrectly, can develop potentially dangerous effects. About a year or so ago my cell phone number was placed on my business cards. Students, and more frequently, parents, would call my cell phone at their convenience. So, I would be receiving calls to my personal cell phone at midnight or later. In a day where students, and some parents, believe that the response should happen immediately, text messages seem like phone calls but worse. Also, depending on your prospective students, your phone might never stop vibrating.

To combat the texting initiative for summer melt I have encouraged students (and some mothers) to instead direct message me on Twitter during the summer months. The reason for this is if I am away from my desk or on vacation, these students still feel connected and I can help answer questions even if I’m not “in the office”. It has seemed to be effective, and slowly more and more students are starting to follow me. I am interested in seeing how the Twitter direct message strategy works this summer and fall with today’s “social media savvy” generation.

One of my responsibilities at Stevens is to promote our social media handles. Our social media director and I have really been focusing on expanding our reach on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Frequently I tweet different key dates and try to keep the students engaged by using different hashtags and prompting conversation. Between the decision release of Early Decision II and Regular Decision, I launched #AskADuck. This was the catalyst that started a webinar including current students who were available to answer questions that were submitted in real time by students who had deposited at Stevens. Now, this isn’t summer melt, but I am working on holding another webinar in the middle of the summer where students can once again ask current students and recent graduates about what they enjoy(ed) and will miss about Stevens from incoming freshmen.

While this will be the first adventure into the forum moving forward, we for the most part have not been too involved in the melt process, minus the emails that are released over the summer reminding students to apply for housing and to get other paperwork submitted. I know moving forward that applications like SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have and will continue to play a large factor into the summer melt, just as much as Wait List availability will.

What do you think? I would be interested in hearing what your method is when it comes to battling summer melt? Please tweet me at @brianatstevens to continue this conversation.

How You Can Be More Interesting to Prospective StudentsTuesday, May 31st, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Challenges. We all have them.

One of the biggest challenges that many college admissions teams face in this highly competitive environment is coming up with something interesting to say.

Furthermore, there’s the challenge of writing things in a way that actually connects with this generation of prospective students. Both hurdles are extremely challenging for many college admissions recruiters who are being asked to do more with less time.

In my ongoing effort to help you become a smarter, more efficient recruiter, I want to pass along some proven ideas on how to actually be interesting to your prospects, specifically with what you write about in letters, your emails and on social media:

  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong (within reason, of course).  This is part of an overall strategy of being transparent.  Being wrong means you’re human, and that’s a quality that our research says today’s prospects, and their parents, value significantly.  Talk about a part of your application process or your campus visit that your institution is trying to improve.  The honesty will be refreshing to your recruits.  Of course, exercise reason when you do this.
  • Don’t be afraid to be right.  Build yourself as an expert, and give away your knowledge to prospective students and families. We’re all drawn to people who we believe can help us get to where we want to be. Your prospects are no different. When they accept you as an expert admissions counselor, it goes a long way towards erasing any doubts that may exist about your school in their mind.
  • Surprise your prospects.  Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a company that helps build engaging social media contests and marketing campaigns, says that one of best ways to deliver exceptional customer service and be more interesting is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to “surprise and delight”. There are so many different opportunities throughout the recruitment process where you can make your prospect’s day. Are you trying to do that now? When you surprise and delight, your prospects and their parents will stop and pay attention. In a marketplace overflowing with colleges and universities that look and feel the same, setting yourself apart from the competition is a key factor in winning over a student.
  • Make your prospects laugh. Successful communicators have been doing this for ages, and as long as it’s appropriate for your prospect, humor can get them to pay attention to your recruiting message.  Easier said than done, of course, but I encourage you to look for ways to get your recruit to smile and laugh.
  • Make sure you are ALWAYS telling a great story.  I’ve talked about this over and over again, and we use it as a foundation for creating our Total Recruiting Solution (TRS) plans for our college admissions clients.  At their core, stories support your key recruitment points, make solid openers, and teach your prospects while entertaining them.  And, a good story can make you a legend in recruiting. I’m not talking about the occasional anecdotes on social media or in one of your letters or emails. I’m talking about the story that gets told over and over again for years to come. Forget about all the others…tell me that one.  As you tell those stories, don’t forget to explain how your prospect fits into them.

Being interesting isn’t easy, and converting that interest to your letters, emails and social media posts is even more challenging.  If a counselor can master the art, there is almost nothing that they won’t accomplish in the competition for the best students.

Strive to be interesting creatively, and watch what happens to your recruiting results!

Need help developing your story?  From our customized On-Campus Workshops to one-on-one personalized recruiting message creation as a part of our Total Recruiting Solution plan for college admissions departments, we have a lot of resources that can help counselors become more effective recruiters.  If you’d like to learn more, just send me an email directly.

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