Dan Tudor

Join The Newsletter and Stay Up To Date!

Text Size Increase Decrease

Are You Making These Recruiting Mistakes? (Ask Yourself Today)Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

She took a big step. Scratch that, I think she took an enormous step, and I was excited to be a small part of it! Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Earlier this year we partnered with this particular admissions counselor and the rest of her admissions team. During my individual meeting with her as a part of our on-campus workshop this summer she admitted to me that she was an introvert. I asked her then if she felt like her personality impacted the way she recruits. She didn’t have an answer and she said it wasn’t a big deal. I encouraged her to think more about it, and then I did what I always do…which is the same thing I do for you every Tuesday at the bottom of this newsletter – I gave out my cell number and told her to feel free to connect with me at any time.

Fast forward to this past week when I received an unscheduled and unexpected call from that counselor, who by the way I hadn’t spoken with since my visit to campus. Her first words to me were, “Jeremy, I’ve finally got an answer for you and yes it’s a problem”.

She proceeded to tell me that this fall she’s really had a hard time getting any sort of engagement during her high school visits and college fairs. One night in her hotel room she was catching up on email and just happened to come across my most recent admissions newsletter. She told me it triggered a memory from our conversation during the summer, and that was enough to push her to schedule some time to talk about things with her Director when she returned to campus. What ensued was an important discussion between the two of them about self-awareness.

Being able to accept that you struggle at or with something is hard for many of us to admit. So is breaking a bad habit or admitting that there might be a better strategy or solution than the one you’re currently using.

Building on that, today I thought it would be beneficial for you if I shared some common recruiting mistakes that I see a lot of admissions professionals continuing to make right now. And while being self-aware isn’t on this list, it’s definitely something that I want you to think about.

Here are seven other things on my list:

  1. Interrupting. Stop interrupting prospects, parents, high school counselors and other people you come in contact with every day. Even if you think you know what the other person is going to tell you, have the courtesy to hear them out and let them express their point of view. Listen first; talk second when someone else engages with you.
  2. Selling too fast. Too many of you are in a rush to skip steps and just try to push the student to the next stage of the process. Slow down. You’re moving faster than your prospect most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for meeting department goals, but would you believe me if I told you that I’m confident you’ll get more applications and campus visits when you slow down the sales process? Build the relationship first; sell your school later, especially in the early stages with a new prospect or inquiry. Take the time to ask probing questions like where the student and family are at in the college search process, and who else is going to be involved in the decision. When you slow down the conversation you’ll have more time to demonstrate why your school is the best fit for their needs.
  3. Not recruiting the whole family. For the past six months or so I’ve been mentioning in article after article why you need to start the conversation with family members, namely parents, earlier. Stop waiting until the financial aid discussion to connect with them and create dialogue. It’s a big reason why you’re not converting as many admits as you’d like. Create a long-term plan to develop a relationship with, and recruit, a prospect’s family. In addition to parents, that can also extend to siblings and grandparents.
  4. Giving up too easily on prospects that don’t reply right away.  Just because a new prospect or inquiry doesn’t respond to your early letters and emails doesn’t mean your messages aren’t making an impact. Some experts contend that a consumer won’t take action on something until he or she has been a part of your campaign 7 times. Others say that 20 is the magic number. Sure, there’s always a time to move on, but too many counselors give up too easily on students before exploring all of the different communication avenues.
  5. Making phone calls that don’t have a purpose.  You need to have a game plan for your recruiting phone calls.  Dan (Tudor) and I talk in detail about that during our on-campus workshops. Getting through your list is great…but how many of those conversations are actually helping you move the needle in your favor? Successful phone calls have a plan of attack. Key pieces of that plan need to be asking really good questions, gaining usable information for future calls and messages, and setting up the next phone call or communication.
  6. Making excuses. Particularly when it comes to responding to emails in a timely fashion or inputting your notes into your CRM so that if you’re out of the office and a colleague has to deal with one of your students, he or she can quickly and easily get up to speed. Stop trying to find reasons why you can’t get these and other critical things done, and instead focus on finding a solution or figuring out a way to manage your time more effectively.
  7. Not understanding how to “close the deal”.  You have to keep asking the right questions.  You have to keep gauging the prospect’s interest.  You have to seek out and effectively handle objections. You have to get those “little yeses” I’ve talked about before. No matter how good of a position you think you’re in with a student you should never just sit back, wait, and hope they choose you.  The really good admissions counselors continue to develop their relationship with their recruit, and do so in such a way that furthers their connection with you and your institution.

Are you making any of these common mistakes? Are there one or two other areas in your approach that need some tweaking and adjusting?  E-mail me at jeremy@dantudor.com and let’s discuss what we can do together to fix the mistakes that might be hurting you in your recruiting efforts.

Determining If Your Prospect’s Objection Is RealTuesday, October 18th, 2016

NCRC1by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

They usually come up earlier rather than later – “Your campus is too small”, “It’s too close to home, and I already know everything”, “The food options aren’t great”,”The weather stinks”. The list goes on and on.

Your prospects list objections as to why your school isn’t going to be the right fit for them. Sometimes, they’re right. Much of the time they’re wrong. And I think the reason they’re wrong most of the time is because you haven’t corrected them about the common misconceptions that exist about your school.

Objections are okay…in fact I would argue you should actually seek out what a prospective student doesn’t like about your school. When was the last time a prospect or parent didn’t have any objections, hesitations or arguments with you about your school?

There’s an often overlooked secret that college admissions counselors tend to ignore when it comes to seeking out and overcoming their prospects’ objections.

The secret involves listening. I mean really listening.

Why is that so important?

Easy: If your prospect’s objection is real, they will usually repeat that objection more than once during your conversation.  That’s a big indicator that whatever the objection is, it’s real…and it needs to be overcome before you can expect your prospect to take the next step and move closer towards any kind of commitment to you and your institution.

When you listen closely and let your prospect talk out their feelings without interruption, you’ll also be able to determine if your prospect is stalling. Recognizing “stalls” is a skill that you need to develop. Stalling by your prospect usually indicates that they’re objecting to something, and they want you to explain why they should think differently.

If you think your prospect might be stalling, and you want to uncover a real objection, try using some questions like these:

  • “<Prospect name>, you’ve told me that you’re having a problem with _________, but I get the feeling you might actually have something else on your mind. What could that be?”
  • “Usually when a student tells me that, it means that they (objection). Is that the case with you?”
  • “I find that a lot of students have a question about (objection). Is that something that’s on your mind?”

Those three questions have helped our clients determine whether a prospect is really objecting to something or just stalling. I encourage you to try them out.

Overcoming objections is a key factor in successful recruiting. That’s why we’re making sure admissions staffs that take part in our On-Campus Workshops are getting the best training possible when it comes to overcoming objections. Whether you get training from us or another resource, learning to overcome objections is vital for your admissions career.

Last thing today: I’ve got an important question for you – I want to know what objection your admissions team is dealing with the most this fall.  Email me that objection right now…and as always thank you for your time and attention!

How to Make the Most of All Those New Prospect NamesTuesday, October 11th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

As your admissions team navigates through college fairs and high school visits I’m sure everyone has been accumulating plenty of new names to add to your database.

A popular question I’m asked this time of year goes something like, “How do we get these new students excited enough that they complete our application?”

That early impression, specifically the first one after a college fair or school visit, is something you don’t get a second chance to make. How are you going to begin creating those feelings that convince a new prospect (namely a high school senior or transfer) to take the next step in the process with your school?

Here are some things I want you to keep in mind as you begin communicating with those new prospects. To be clear, I’m not just talking about the letters and emails that you’ll be sending out.  Your follow-up, ongoing communication over these next few weeks will be almost equally, if not more, important.  Why?  Your new prospects are looking to see who contacts them consistently early on. In their minds this is a strong indicator of just how serious you and your school are about them.

If you want to make all those new prospects and inquiries count…

  • Deliver that first communication right away. Don’t start your recruiting relationship off on the wrong foot. There needs to be a system in place to get those new names into your system quickly. If that’s not happening right now you need to make changes, and fast.  Sending a new prospect their first communication in a timely fashion is extremely important. You also need to determine what type of communication you’re going to send. In most cases, we recommend our clients send a first contact letter instead of an email. It’s a tangible, safe interaction and one that our research finds effective.
  • Limit the selling.  This isn’t new advice, but rather a reminder, if you want to experience early reach-out success. Take it easy on all of the statistics about your school. Our research shows that prospects aren’t interested in being “sold” on your school right away. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in a first email, letter or phone call, so don’t try. The goal of your first contact or two should be finding out as much as possible about how the prospective student sees himself or herself going through the college search process.  Avoid asking them what other colleges they’re considering or which schools they’re most excited about at this point. Too much, too soon…that’s what your prospects tell us.
  • Tell them what you like about them (and be specific).  That’s the top thing young people want to know right away.  It’s also something that your competition probably isn’t doing, so you’ll stand out. Why do you think they’ll have no problem fitting in at your school? How can your school help prepare them for success after graduation? Those are the questions that you need to answer for your prospect early on.
  • Stay consistent. Make sure you’re communicating foundational, logical facts to your prospect every six to nine days through a variety of communication methods.  If you don’t do this you risk inconsistent recruiting results. Our research solidly indicates that when a prospect sees ongoing, regular contact from you, not only do they engage with the messaging on a more regular basis, but they also make the judgment that your school has a greater interest in them and values them more.  Those feelings are what you should want your prospects to feel.
  • Come up with more effective questions.  As we’ve discussed before, your prospects are nervous or in many cases scared to have a conversation with you…especially early on. If you want to change that then don’t ask questions like, “What do you want in a college?” That’s a question that gets a vanilla, untrue answer much of the time. Instead, ask them to walk you through how they’re going to make their college decision or ask them who else they’ll be leaning on to help them make their decision. The better the questions, the greater chance you have of connecting with your prospect, understanding their mindset, and ultimately coming up with a strategy to successfully recruit them.
  • Create curiosity. We frequently remind our clients about the importance of crafting a message or ending a phone call with unanswered questions, especially early in the process.  You want to create curiosity and prompt them to want more interaction from you…something that makes them want to go to the next step in their communication with you.  Ask yourself, “Am I creating curiosity when I talk with new prospects?”  (Hint: Creating curiosity is done by giving less information, not more).
  • Have a call to action. A call to action is what gets them to respond to you.  You need to tell your prospects what to do and how to do it.  Want them to call or email you?  Tell them that very clearly.  Tell them when to call, and let them know what you want to talk about.  Want them to reply to your email?  Be crystal clear on when to reply and what information to include. Not consistently having a clear call to action is the number one reason most communication flow plans fail. I’d also strongly recommend that you avoid asking new prospects to visit campus or complete your application in those first couple of contacts. When you do that it jumps several spaces ahead on their recruiting game board, and you risk coming off as disingenuous and too hurried according to our research. You need to build to that point. Only bring it up once you have either a) spent two or three conversations asking them questions and getting to know them, or b) they bring it up (that would apply to their parents as well).

Communication with new prospects and inquiries should result in one thing at the start of the recruiting process – a response. Your specific goal when a new student enters the funnel over the first few weeks should be creating an environment where they feel comfortable enough to communicate back and forth with you.

If you feel like you’re off to a slow start with this recruiting class, we can help. You’ll start to see a difference immediately after you implement our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program…just ask our clients. Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com to learn more.

Recruiting Reminders During My Daughter’s Campus TourMonday, October 10th, 2016

College visit picYour perspective on effective recruiting techniques always reach a new level when you experience it personally, through the eyes of one of your children.

My daughter is a high school junior, and we took her to visit a college for the first time yesterday.

Statistics, research, and all the data we accumulate for college coaches and admissions departments is important, of course. But as we always teach, these decisions are about feelings. And perceptions. Or misconceptions.

And all of those things are defined, on purpose or by accident, by the individuals leading a visit and the tour of campus.

Now, let me just say, the college staff was organized, friendly, knowledgeable, and generally put on a terrific day. Still, it was interesting to listen to other parents and kids going through the visit, as well as the comments from the prospective students on the visit. And there were several good reminders of what anyone showcasing a college should be doing to effectively reach this generation of teenager – and their parents:

Parents are running the show. We have a pretty long article history of outlining our research and advice when it comes to incorporating the parents of your recruit into the process. That was on full display as I walked around campus with other families. Parents were leading discussions, prompting their kids with the right questions to ask, and generally handling all of the tougher topics related to choosing a campus. And, as our focus group testing has shown in the last several years, the kids were fine with that happening; they were looking for their parents to provide direction and help them make decisions about whether or not that particular school would be a good fit for them. So, as we continually ask, how are you incorporating the parents into the recruiting conversation, and giving them a lead role in the decision-making process?

The more crowded the visit, the less effective the emotional connection. Let me say first that large group visits on big recruiting weekends are sometimes unavoidable. One of your recruits in a large group on your campus versus no recruit on your campus? No contest, get the recruit there. However, I was reminded again how hard it is to emotionally connect to a place (or to a coach, or a new group of friends on campus) in a large recruiting visit or tour group. There were parts of the visit that were crowded, difficult to hear the guide, or see everything there was to see. And it didn’t prompt many in-depth, personal questions from those of us attending (most families don’t want to interrupt the flow of the tour with the questions they really want to ask, based on our research). Again, that’s no fault of the organizers, it was just a byproduct of the numbers in attendance. My recommendation? Aim for as many one-on-one visits as possible. They have the highest closing percentage rates, and give your recruits the best overall emotional connections that you need them to experience.

Go deep with your questions. Speaking of parents and your visiting prospects not wanting to answer your questions in big groups during a tour: It’s up to you to take your upper-tier prospects aside at some point during the visit, and ask them questions. Deep, probing questions. It was striking to hear, towards the end of the tour and visit day, how many parents were talking with each other about the questions they had that they needed to investigate further – even though they had college representatives standing ten feet away. Why? It wasn’t the right setting. Had they been taken aside privately and asked questions about their experience, what hurdles they saw as a part of the process, and other decision related issues. Unless you focus on 1) creating a private, one-on-one setting, and 2) asking questions that require deep answers, don’t expect to take most recruiting experiences to the next level. They need you to lead them.

Talk about money as soon as possible. One of the most interesting observations of the day came in the general recruiting fair, where all of the different college departments had tables set up in order to answer questions. The table with the least amount of traffic? The college’s financial services table. Wait, you may ask, “if parents are so gung-ho on talking about money, why wasn’t that the most popular table at the fair?” Simple. Parents want to talk about their specific situations, privately, over an extended period of time. For athletes, they want that to be with their coach as often as possible – at least to kick off the conversation as a transition to speaking with someone else in financial aid (assuming you’re a non-Division I that isn’t offering a full athletic scholarship). The point is, parents are looking for financial definitions sooner, rather than later. Don’t disappoint.

Nothing is universal when it comes to how every single visiting recruit coming to campus is going to react to how your visit actually is produced. But there are some definite general rules we see being effective over and over again in the work that we do with our clients around the country. Use these four proven concepts as a starting point for re-evaluating how you execute your recruiting visits, and what needs to change to accommodate this new generation of prospective families visiting your campus.

Our staff works with college athletic departments, as well as admissions staffs, to help them communicate their recruiting message more effectively. We work with hundreds of programs around the nation, and have for the last decade. If you’re a coach or athletic director, contact Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com, and if you’re an admissions professional contact Jeremy Tiers at jeremy@dantudor.com.

An Important Campus Visit Question You Need to AnswerTuesday, October 4th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s October and that means high school fall break weeks are fast approaching.

From seniors who are getting a late start to juniors who want to stay on track because of changes to the FAFSA timeline, many of your prospects are trying to decide right now which college visits to pencil in. Is your school going to be one of the lucky few?

I say few because the ongoing focus group research we do with colleges and universities (big, small, public and private) nationwide continues to produce the same results. Over the past year, 65.2% of freshmen students have told us that during the college search process they only visited between 1 and 3 schools.

Now you might be thinking something like, “Jeremy, we’ve consistently sent personalized communications, I’ve been to their school and I’ve talked to them on the phone. Why wouldn’t they want to come and visit?”

Even though a campus visit would seem to be the next logical step in the process for those prospects, I’m here to tell you that in many cases it’s far from a sure thing. Being consistent with your messaging, building the relationship over time, and inviting them to a campus visit event won’t always be enough to persuade prospects and their families to take time out of their busy schedules and invest a day at your institution.

We continue to find that many of your prospects want and need to understand why you want them to become a part of your campus community and how your school will help them “fit in” so easily. Statements about a school being the “right fit” for a student get thrown around all the time. If you haven’t had detailed discussions yet about these subjects with your prospects, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to justify why they should spend their time and money traveling to your campus instead of the competition.

Now, on to that important campus visit question that you need to answer – Have you given your prospects a reason to visit your campus? Other than you being interested in them and having a campus that you think is awesome and they’d be crazy not to want to visit, what have you really given them?

Again, your prospects will rarely visit a campus without a good reason that is solidified in their mind – either one that they came up with on their own or a picture that you and your school have painted for them over a period of time.

If you’re in agreement with me, here’s another question you might need to ask yourself along with one vital point I want you to remember as you make efforts to get this next group of prospects to visit campus.

Next question – Have you laid the foundation for the visit?  As I touched on earlier, consistent messaging that tells stories, gets them to visualize, and creates anticipation is extremely helpful. The same can be said for building trust and cultivating the recruiting relationship over time. From the scenarios we’ve tracked involving clients that we’re helping to deal with this situation, asking for a visit to soon in the college search process is something that isn’t recommended. You have to be patient, let that recruiting relationship build, and then ask. Otherwise you run the risk of that conversation being unnerving and overwhelming for your prospect. You need to give them glimpses of what different parts of your campus and the surrounding areas are like. Those are some of the key elements our research has uncovered as to what triggers that anticipation in the minds of your prospects when it comes to committing to a campus visit. And in case you’re wondering, getting to that point doesn’t have to take months if you’re doing it the way that we’ve discussed before.

Vital point to remember – You need to have a “because.” A big motivating factor in many prospect’s decision to visit campus was the idea that there was something important to talk about, or they were going to experience something big and unique during their visit. I want you to really focus on the idea of selling a personalized experience where both they and their parents will have the opportunity to sit down face to face with people that can help walk them through why your school is the “right fit” and how coming there will help prepare them for the next phase of their life. Bottom line – What your prospects need is what we all need to prompt action from time to time:  A “because”. Do you consistently have one?

When the visit date finally arrives, make sure you and your admissions team avoid making any of the common mistakes that many colleges fall victim to during the all-important campus visit.

Last thing: If you’re struggling to consistently get prospects on your campus and you want more even more help, all you have to do is ask. Email me and I’ll send you an important question to ask your prospects.

Parent Frustrations During the Student Recruitment ProcessTuesday, September 27th, 2016

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

How You Can Get Your Prospects to TalkTuesday, September 20th, 2016

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!

13 Things Your Recruits Told Us That You Need to KnowTuesday, September 13th, 2016

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.

He’s Got the Keys to Helping You Become a Better RecruiterTuesday, September 6th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you just looked at that picture and have no idea who that guy is, I think student recruitment is probably harder for you than it needs to be…especially if you happen to be an admissions counselor who is under the age of 30.

During my client visits in the month of August, I had admissions counselors refer to him as “Major Key”, “That Rapper”, and “Oh that’s the Fan Luv Guy”. His name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, also known as DJ Khaled. He’s an American record producer, radio personality, DJ, and record label executive. And he’s also been referred to as the “King of Snapchat” having racked up over 6 million Snapchat followers in just under a year.

If his name still doesn’t ring a bell and now you’re thinking you don’t need to read the rest of this article, I’m here to tell you that you’re going to miss out on some major lessons about effective recruiting.

I started referencing DJ Khaled during our On-Campus Workshops earlier this summer after speaking with different groups of high school students during my travels who told me that, in their opinion, too many admissions counselors couldn’t relate to this generation of students.  Therein lies the first of eight valuable lessons for those of you that want to become (or want your admissions team to become) more dominant recruiters:

  • Be current on pop culture. In the focus group research surveys we do on campuses across the country, I’m beginning to see more quotes like, “This generation wants to be related to”, and “Don’t try and sound like you know what we’re into when you don’t. We want to be taken seriously and we can tell when you’re just saying something you just read on the internet.” Knowing trends and being current on pop culture isn’t an option anymore if you truly want to connect with teenagers and those in their early 20’s. In addition to being familiar with people like DJ Khaled, how much do you know about what’s popular right now on Netflix and Spotify? Have you ever heard of After School or WhatsApp? It’s hard to be relatable if you don’t know what your clientele is into. And just in case you were wondering how popular DJ Khaled is among viewers ages 12-34, according to a recent article, his videos attract 3 million to 4 million viewers from that age range. To put this in perspective, Nielson reports that roughly 3 million people age 12–34 watch The Big Bang Theory. Yes, on an average video, DJ Khaled has more views than an acclaimed television show.
  • Keep your recruiting message consistent. If you knew who DJ Khaled was before you read this article then you’re probably familiar with themes like “We the Best” and “They don’t want you to (insert whatever verb you want) …” People know what DJ Khaled represents because it’s the same all the time. Consistency is such an important part of any effective recruiting plan.  You must have consistent weekly content that’s interesting, focused on your prospect, and demands interaction.  Those three aspects of an effective recruiting plan have helped our clients grow enrollment over the years.
  • Always tell a compelling story. In last week’s newsletter I walked you through how to begin telling your school’s story. Storytelling will help you achieve emotional engagement which is a critical part in your student’s decision-making process. DJ Khaled tells compelling stories every single day on Snapchat. Here’s the key though — his stories, or snaps, consistently get and keep people’s attention. They keep coming back day after day, and they spread the word to the masses. Khaled gives his viewers a behind the scenes look into an average day of his life. His stories have recurring themes and include a variety of celebrities and other characters. They include things like breakfast with his personal chef, taking care of his flowers, and inviting his fans to meet him at various locations across the country. His stories create curiosity, they engage, and they help create feelings. Do your admissions recruiting communications do that right now for your prospects?
  • Make sure you’re providing value. After watching a few of DJ Khaled’s snaps on Snapchat, it quickly becomes clear there’s a lot of branding/selling taking place. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t feel like he’s forcing product on you every second because his content provides value at every turn. By providing content that his viewers value, he quickly builds credibility and rapport with them. If you do the same thing with your prospects when you finally ask them to take action on something they’ll be more likely to do so. Khaled understands this. Do you?
  • Social Media is extremely powerful with this generation (and most colleges don’t use it effectively). That’s not me telling you that, that’s your students. The biggest piece of advice your students continue to offer in terms of what they think college admissions needs to do better or differently as you communicate with this next class is…use more social media.   Your students want real and raw, and right now most of them think the content you provide on social media is forced and fake. Here’s a great, detailed student quote from a recent survey, “I think it would be neat to see more social media things…Showing something like a Snapchat story of the school and how beautiful and interesting it would get more people interested. Two other things would be telling what things normal students do on a daily basis for classes or just living up there.” I’ll say it again – real and raw, not forced and fake. The content you provide also needs to appeal to the heart and be shareable if you want to get a maximum return on your investment.
  • Genuine wins. How many of you are comfortable showing your real side? If you’re trying to cultivate trust and become the go-to person for your prospects and their parents, being genuine is a must. DJ Khaled is not afraid to be himself – a hilarious and honest guy. For example, he doesn’t hide the fact that he needs to be in better shape. He talks about it and uses it as motivation. He’s also more than happy to show what kind of lifestyle his hard work has afforded him, like hanging out with celebrities and swimming in pools and riding jet-skis in exotic locations around the world. He even goes out of his way to connect with his fans during his travels often times including them in his snaps. It’s just Khaled being Khaled. That honesty is a big reason why his audience feels they can relate to him and why his fans are constantly coming back to see more.
  • Your recruiting messages need to feature repetition. Repetition is one of the least used and most effective strategies that you can utilize in your recruiting message. DJ Khaled uses repetition just about every single day. Whenever he’s getting ready to release an album, highlight a product, or encourage “Fan Luv” to come out and meet him, he’ll post multiple snaps on Snapchat with the same message done in a variety of ways and locations. He even gets help from his celebrity friends and his fans in many instances. Today’s generation of students counts on repetition.
  • Passion will make you stand out. I’ve talked about it many times before. Those who have passion will create meaningful long-term relationships with prospects, parents, and virtually everyone else they come in contact with. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage. DJ Khaled puts so much passion and excitement into every aspect of his life, it becomes infectious. For you, the college admissions professional, it’s the same thing. It’s about how you say what you say. Have you put in the hard work that it takes to truly get to know your prospects’ wants and needs? When you do that, it’s much easier to be excited about a particular aspect of your college because you know it matters to your prospect…instead of just assuming, guessing, or hoping.

For some of you these eight bullet points may have been timely reminders. That’s great! For everyone else, I encourage you to take one or more of them and consider how it or they can help you become a better recruiter.

If you want even more lessons and strategies that can help take your recruiting game to that next level all you have to do is ask. You can call me on my cell phone (612-386-0854), text me, email me, or if you’re going to be at the NACAC National Conference in a couple of weeks swing by Booth 853, and we can chat in person.



How to Begin Telling Your School’s “Story”Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Whenever we go to lead one of our On-Campus Workshops for a college admissions department, a big part of our job is helping them to develop their “story”.

I think stories are vital to the student recruitment process. And just to be clear, when I say “story” I’m not talking about your marketing materials. Much of that information is dull and uninspiring…your students continue to tell us those exact words.

The stories I’m referring to are a crucial ingredient in your recruiting communication flow. They talk about things like the people on your campus (students, faculty) and your community. They create emotion for your prospects, and they help them visualize themselves on your campus and in your classroom.

So, what’s your “story” that you want this next class to buy into? Have you sat back and considered what kind of picture you’re painting for your prospect in their head through your recruiting materials, phone calls and even on-campus visits?

If you’ve never seriously thought about your “story” before, and need help in creating it so that you can be a more effective recruiter, today I’m going to pass along some critical questions that your admissions team should ask each other. The answers will help you find out what’s unique about your institution and how to present it as a compelling story that any prospective student will want to hear more of:

  1. What are your prospects demanding?  Here’s a hint: It’s not always about the money, so don’t make that the focus.  If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter, or you’ve had me on campus to lead a workshop, you know students continue to tell us that personal relationships with you and other students on your campus impact how they will make their final college decision much more than being affordable. They demand attention, and they demand benefits that revolve around them.  What can you do to “meet their demand”?
  2. What do your prospects need?  A really good financial aid package?  Yes.  A degree?  Of course.  To see themselves “fitting in” on your campus?  All the time.  Ask yourself what your prospects need, and you will go a long way towards reaching them with a message – a story – that they will identify with.  Remember: “Needs” are different than “demands”.  Their needs revolve around the realities that they are facing and are necessary for them to overcome those hurdles.  And in most cases different prospects have different needs. Figure out a way to meet their needs (that’s what they care about, anyway…their needs, not yours).
  3. What are they willing to pay for?  This is a challenging and in-depth question. What is it that your prospects view as being a “premium” feature of your school that if they had to pay for it, they would be happy to do so? For example, it might be the brand new dorms or the ability to be a part of the sports culture or the Greek system on your campus (if you have it). Each of those things is a tangible “premium” item that your prospects might be willing to pay for if they had to.  Understanding what the most valuable parts that your college offers them in their eyes is a big key in developing a great recruiting story.
  4. What niche(s) can your school offer that others don’t?  Earlier this month I worked with a university that is developing a specialized niche in the way they prepare their freshmen students to successfully transition to college life. Take a look at what kind of “specialty” niche you can put together for your prospects. What can you offer them on your campus that most of your competitors don’t?  Find an area that other colleges are failing to focus on, and build out that unique brand for your prospect.
  5. Who are the people behind your institution?  I don’t mean just your school’s President. I mean who else on your campus can your prospects connect with on a personal level? A big key as you tell those people’s “story” is to be genuine. Don’t embellish so much that down the line it becomes clear to your prospects or their parents that this person isn’t really who you’ve painted them as. And also don’t forget your audience either because you don’t want to necessarily tell the same “story” to everyone. The goal is for your “story” to be personal and have emotion built into it.

Asking these five questions can help your admissions team develop the beginnings of a great recruiting strategy.

If you want to achieve emotional engagement, which is a critical part in today’s student decision-making process, effective storytelling is a must.

Ready to take the next step?  Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Let us help you develop and execute your story saving you time and increasing your yield results. Click here for more details. Our system works, and we’d love to tell you why.

  • Not a member? Click here to signup.