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How to Win Your Prospect’s “Bracket Challenge”Monday, March 23rd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

How’s your bracket? If you’re one of the tens of millions of people like me who filled out an NCAA tournament bracket, hopefully it hasn’t been introduced to the shredder just yet.

While the nations top college basketball teams try to figure out how to survive and advance to Indianapolis and take home the trophy, many of your recruits are dealing with their own version of “March Madness.” They applied to several colleges and received multiple acceptance letters. Some of those prospects immediately jumped at chance to attend your school, while others for various reasons said, “thanks, but no thanks.” In many cases however, you likely have a large group of admitted students who have yet to make their final decisions. My goal today is to help your school end up on the “champions” line of those admissions brackets.

Selling against your competition is probably the most important battle you face during the recruitment cycle. Here’s a scenario I’ve been frequently discussing with counselors as of late. A recruit has narrowed down his or her list to three or four colleges, including theirs. A couple of them are similar institution types in comparable settings. One or two are completely different. And, every now and then there’s a school that has advanced deep into a prospect’s “bracket,” baffling everyone. The conversation then becomes, “Jeremy…how do I tell this student that I know those other schools aren’t the right fit for them without bad mouthing those schools?” Great question!

Here are seven things you can do to beat out other schools for your undecided admits…tactfully.

  1. Ask them who they’re leaning on to help them make a final decision.  Once they tell you, ask yourself how well you’ve connected with those other individuals. If the answer is “not very well,” you know what you need to do ASAP.
  1. Discover what they like about the competition and then start to chip away.  Before you can chip away at the opposition, you have to know what your prospect perceives their strengths to be.  Ask him or her to state the strong points for each of the other schools still under consideration. After hearing the answers, reply to each one with a phrase like, “It’s interesting that you mention that, because our school is actually stronger in that area than them.”  Then, list why.  Even if you’re going up against a more prominent institution this subtle reply works well.
  1. Get your prospect to create doubt about those other schools.  An effective way to do this is to ask your prospect, “During this process, what are some things that you’ve noticed that you don’t like as much about (insert school name)? You can word the question differently, but the point is to get the prospect to start actively thinking about your competition’s weaknesses instead of their strengths.
  1. Make sure you’ve overcome ALL your prospect’s objections.  This remains one of the most asked about topics when we customize an admissions training workshop for a school. Why?  Because it’s the most important part of recruiting a student, and it may be something that your competition isn’t doing.  Clarify any specific objections your prospect has, and make sure they get addressed. Every situation is different, so it’s hard to give a general technique that would work in any situation. If you have a specific question I encourage you to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com
  1. Make sure you’ve proven your school’s VALUE. If you haven’t engaged in a comprehensive and prospect-specific discussion about value, I’d pencil one in very soon. Students and parents expect and want this information from admissions and financial aid. Surprisingly, some studies show that a large number of schools are still failing to address this topic.
  1. Get them back on campus. When prospects try to weigh the pros and cons of different colleges they’re serious about, it often becomes hard for them to create much separation. Admitted student day events are a great way to remind them what life on campus will look and feel like. Keep in mind that families lead busy lives and as a result will likely have to pick and choose which schools they’ll revisit. It’s crucial that you give them a good reason to come back. (If you want to learn how to create awesome admitted student days, click here).
  1. Confidently explain why your school is the best choice. Believe it or not, your recruit may not know why you are the best fit. How could that possibly happen, right? Simply put, your story has been lost in the noisy, marketing-filled world that they live in. That’s why we advocate the need for a consistent, ongoing message from the start to the end of the recruitment cycle. If you’re not consistently telling them why they should choose your school, there will be a strong likelihood that they don’t figure out why your school is the best choice.

The second part to this point is in how you explain that “why.” You’ll note my use of the word confidently. If you’re going to make a great persuasive argument, you need to ooze confidence. Our research shows that when it’s time to make a final decision, students and their parents are desperately looking for someone who can confidently articulate a plan for success for that student once they step foot on campus.

Competition for the next generation of students isn’t going to get easier any time soon. Use some or all of these strategies to get an edge on your competition in the battle for prospects, and let us know if we can train you further on any of these techniques.

The 7-Letter Word That Can Help You Win Over RecruitsMonday, March 16th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Today I want to introduce you to what I consider to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruiting. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage.

When you’re trying to secure a commitment and obtain those deposits, one of the worst things you can do is give your recruit the feeling that they’re being pressured. I hear stories all the time regarding counselors who are so stressed out about increasing yield, that they push and push until they get the answer they want from their prospect. Here’s the problem with that scenario. Pressure might lead to an initial commitment, but that prospect will be a strong candidate to flip-flop at the last minute, or at the very least talk negatively to others about the way your institution recruited him or her.

Our ongoing focus group research with thousands of current college students reveals that when making their college choice, pressure from you is bad. On the other hand if you consistently demonstrate passion, it’s very likely you’ll achieve the same results that you would hope to attain by pressuring them.

Passion is an effective sales tool because it isn’t artificial. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re selling. A passionate recruiter sincerely cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of their prospect and his or her family members. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions that a recruit relies on to make their decision.

So, which approach are you using – the passionate pitch or the pressure sell? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me provide you with a few contrasting examples of “passion” versus “pressure” when recruiting your students:

Passion is when you tell your recruit why you like him or her, and what value you see them having as a member of your school’s student body. Pressure is when you bluntly tell your recruit what they will lose out on if they don’t hurry up and make a decision.

Passion is when you smile, speak with enthusiasm, and display pride because you’re that excited to explain to your prospect why your school is the “right fit.” Pressure is when you rarely make eye contact and look at your cell phone every five minutes, because you’ve got some other place you’d rather be.

Passion is surprising your recruit with a quick visit to the Office of the President or the faculty leader of the program they hope to get into. When you enter the office, the President or faculty leader already knows their name because you’ve been raving about them and the impact they could have as a student on your campus. Pressure is sitting with your prospect cooped-up in your admissions office talking only about your school’s history and why they’d be crazy not to come here.

Passion is when you consistently communicate with your prospect from the beginning to the end of the recruitment cycle. You use different methods of communication, make your messages interesting, and always keep in mind how your messaging is important to that prospect. Pressure is when you infrequently touch base after a recruit submits their application, and then when admitted, call and ask if they’ve chosen where they want to go.

Passion is being prepared to start the conversation about paying for college early in the process. You understand it’s a stressful subject and you want to ease everyone’s minds as much as possible. You effectively communicate how the process works and the value your school offers. Pressure is the feeling that parents have when their son or daughter really likes a school with a high cost of attendance, and they have no idea how they will be able to afford it.

Passion is when you listen to your recruit reveal an objection, get clarification, and become a problem solver. Pressure is when you try to move the recruitment process forward without acknowledging a problem or concern exists.

Passion means you never make a recruit feel bad for questioning something you say or indicating that they’ve heard something that’s causing them to have concerns about your institution. On the other hand, if you rely on pressure as part of your pitch, you seem to always make a recruit feel bad when they seem to be leaning towards picking another school. In short, you turn up the pressure.

Passion is involving the parents in all aspects of the recruiting message, which is what most prospects want according to our research.  Pressure is what that recruit feels back at home when you don’t do that, and they want to pick your college but don’t feel like they can because mom and dad never really got to know you as well as a competing school that they’re going to settle on.

That’s a short list, but an important list.

Those who have passion are able to create meaningful long-term relationships with their recruits. If you don’t display that 7-letter word during the process, your recruits won’t either.

So, I have two questions for you now. What are you going to do with this information? And, how will it change the way you recruit this current class of prospects?

Admitted Student Days – How to Turn Average Into AwesomeMonday, March 9th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Whether your institution is still processing applications or trying to turn those admits into deposits, increasing yield is unquestionably a priority.

As we’ve previously discussed, our ongoing focus group research on campuses around the country indicates the face-to-face communication you have with a prospect will greatly determine your school’s chances of enrolling them. Throw in the fact that an increasingly competitive landscape has caused your recruits to apply to more colleges than ever before, and it’s clear that besides developing a strong campus visit program, you cannot afford for your admitted student days to be average.

Sure, it’s much easier to execute an agenda that mirrors what most other colleges are offering. Don’t be shocked though when that approach produces mixed results. This generation wants and needs to see, hear and feel something different if you’re going to separate your school from the competition. Since many families will likely attend more than one admitted student day program, your admissions team must consistently be providing admits with a memorable, unique, “awesome” experience.

Before we discuss some strategies to improve your admitted student days, there’s an important question I need to ask each of you. Have you clearly and consistently stated why your recruits should visit campus again…or in some cases visit for the first time? As I stated in a recent article about campus visits, you need to give your recruits a “because.” That’s step number one.

In short, for recruits to visit your campus they want a good reason that is solidified in their mind – either one that they came up with on their own, or a picture that you have painted for them over a period of time. An easy example is the idea that there’s something important to talk about during the admitted student day visit. What that “something” will be is up to you, and it’s not going to be the same for every single admit. When you give them a reason it will create anticipation, which is much more effective then sending a reminder card or email that contains a schedule full of information sessions and meetings, with lunch sandwiched in-between.

Here then are some proven ideas that when implemented as part of your admitted student day programs, will put your school in the best possible position to receive positive enrollment decisions.

  1. Personalize your invites. Yep you’re right, I just recommended something that will require extra time that you probably don’t have, and involve more creative thinking. Why would I do that? When done consistently over time, personalization truly is the secret to increasing enrollment. There is no substitute. Whether you send your invite/reminder via email or snail mail, it’s your job to get the reader’s attention. Remember, your invite isn’t the only one they’ll likely receive. Try using a big, bold P.S. message. Employing something that seems out of place is one effective strategy. Your recruit will probably read the P.S. before they scan through the actual email/flier.
  1. Give them more than just the same old information sessions. Learning how to register for classes and student housing are important, I’m not arguing that point. However, when you have admitted students that have yet to make a final decision and parents who are likely still trying to figure out how all the bills will get paid, I strongly encourage you to give them something more. An information session providing ROI data or recent success stories would be very valuable, particularly for parents. You could also host a forum where groups of admits, minus their parents, can speak candidly with current first-year students about life on campus and other things they really want to know about it.
  1. Let them spend a couple of hours alongside one of your students. Taking #2 one step further, why not offer the chance to shadow a current freshman for part of a day. It goes without saying that your host students would need to be knowledgeable and dependable. Provided that’s the case, our research indicates that casual, relaxed “hang out” time with your students is a great way to determine whether your campus feels best to them. No admissions staff, no parents, and little structure. Trust me, it works.
  1. Consider adding school events to the agenda. If intercollegiate athletics is a point of pride on your campus, schedule your admitted student days so that visitors have the opportunity to attend one or more home sporting events. The same thing goes for a winter play or concert. Each of these is a great opportunity to showcase school pride and create impactful memories for your recruits.
  1. Make sure you have uncovered any objections. If you’ve had us on your campus for one of our admissions training workshops, than you know that one of the biggest reasons counselors fail when it comes to recruiting, is they fail to  overcome one or more objections. Very few prospects are going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer each of their concerns, or those of their parents. Throughout the entire recruitment cycle, always be listening and processing the information you’re being given. Once an objection is clarified, it’s up to you to be a problem solver. If prior to an admitted student day you discover there’s a last minute critical objection, than be prepared to answer it during the visit.
  1. Tell them you want them, and ask them if they want to commit. Never assume anything. My wife reminds me of that frequently. Unfortunately many counselors assume that once their prospects have been admitted, it’s obvious your school wants them. I’m here to tell you that’s not always the case. Don’t think they need to hear it again?  Wrong.  They do…now more than ever, actually.  If by this point you haven’t verbalized those words yet, do it now.  Say something like, “Are you feeling like you’d be ready to tell me you’re ready to commit to us?” Don’t be scared to “ask for the sale.”

It’s crucial to come up with ways throughout the recruitment cycle to differentiate both your institution and yourself, without becoming too weird of course. Admitted student days are a key component of that recruiting cycle. Using these ideas will help you stand out and ultimately generate positive outcomes.

Want more specific strategies for great campus recruiting visits? Or, do you have other things you’d like to ask?  Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com



Stop Doing This One Simple Thing to Improve Your Campus VisitsMonday, March 2nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Before I tell you what that is, I want to start by thanking each of you for your readership. Furthermore, it’s great to hear success stories from those of you who have applied the information from this newsletter. I look forward to being on many of your campuses this spring conducting one of our popular admissions training workshops.

Okay…let’s get down business. Today I’m going to give you one simple idea that you can begin applying immediately.   It won’t cost you a dime and it doesn’t require any extra work. It centers on improving campus visits with prospective students, a topic I’m frequently asked about by admissions directors and counselors I speak with, or who we get to serve as clients.

There are many different strategies that we might suggest depending on your specific situation. This one however is universal and easy to put into practice.

Stop having prospects sit in on a class as part of the campus visit. Let me explain why your admissions team should do this, and touch on why you might be hesitant to actually follow through with removing it from your campus visit schedule.

First, why is it such a good idea?  The answer is simple – Your prospects tell us.

As part of our review and research in preparation for an admissions workshop, we conduct detailed focus groups and surveys with current college students.  When we do, one thing we ask them to tell us is what factors were most important – and least important – in helping them choose a college.  Without fail, nearly 100% of the time, students tell us that sitting in on a class is one of the least effective, least important aspects of their visit to a college campus.

“Sitting in on class was a little boring.” “I think sitting in on a class is not that important, it was interesting for me but not that important.” Both of these are actual comments from your recruits.

So, is it smart to have this on the agenda and prolong a campus visit that in many cases should be shorter anyways? No. The average campus tour already lasts more than one hour. Our research, which again is feedback from students, consistently tells us this is too long. Like it or not, that’s this generation of recruits.

Having said that, let me give you two reasons why you’ll probably elect not to remove this part of your campus visit, even though many of your prospects would be much happier with their visit to campus if you did.

  • You don’t want to upset your friends across campus. In some cases this idea will not even be up for discussion because your office doesn’t want to explain to an academic dean why you’ve stopped coming around and thus eliminated the role they’re used to playing in the process. I completely understand. For those of you who might be on the fence, let me share the following feedback from a counselor at a school we worked with last fall who chose to implement this idea. “I can’t believe it but we have not received any negative feedback from various departments on campus since we stopped visiting classes, which is a pleasant surprise.”
  • “This is college and they need to experience what a typical class will be like.” I’ll answer by telling you what many of your students and student-athletes have told both Dan Tudor and myself – “It’s a college…we get it…they have classrooms.”  In other words, it doesn’t matter.  Now, let me clarify. If you have a prospective student who expresses their desire to sit in on a class or spend some time learning about your college from faculty members, go ahead and make that happen. However, for the vast majority of prospects visiting your campus for a short period of time, they would much rather have some down time for rest and self-exploration.

There it is.  One simple, straightforward solution to better campus visits that’s based on national research and advice from the very people you are trying to attract to your school, along with two obstacles standing in your way. The choice is yours.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the factor that more often than not most influences your students to choose your institution over the competition is…How the admissions staff treated them on their visit.

We’d love to conduct an On-Campus Workshop at your school.  We conduct specific focus group research on-campus, present a dynamic interactive discussion of effective recruiting strategies, and answer specific questions from your admissions team on how to address the challenges you’re facing. Contact Jeremy today at jeremy@dantudor.com

Have You Given Them a Reason to Visit Campus?Monday, February 23rd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Spring break weeks are fast approaching. A large majority of your younger prospects, primarily juniors, are currently putting together a road map of college campuses to visit. Have you and your admissions staff made a compelling case highlighting the benefits that prospective students and their parents can gain by visiting your campus?

“Wait a minute Jeremy, I’ve written personal letters, sent emails, and had productive phone calls with them. 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 it’s not a mere formality.   Being consistent with your messaging, building the relationship over time, and inviting them to visit 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. Especially given that today’s prospect is applying to more colleges than ever before. You have to give them a reason to come to campus.

When we conduct one of our many admissions workshops throughout the year, part of our research includes conducting detailed focus groups and surveys with current college students.  We continue to find that a large majority of your prospects need to understand why you want them to become a member of your student body. Essentially, they want to be able to justify why they should spend their time and money on your campus instead of somebody else’s.

So, what’s your answer then to my question in the subject line of this week’s newsletter? Other than you being interested and sending out reminder notices for your information sessions, what have you really given them? Do they view coming to your campus as a chore, or could it actually be fun?

If you’re on board with me, there are a couple of questions you might need to ask yourself, and one vital point I want you to remember as you make efforts to get your next group of recruits to visit campus.

  1. Have you laid the foundation for the visit?  As I touched on earlier, consistent messaging and cultivating the recruiting relationship over time are extremely helpful. I don’t recommend asking them to visit as part of your first conversation. That initial chat will be unnerving for most prospects, and the last thing you want to do is overwhelm them and start things off on the wrong foot.
  1. Have you created anticipation? If you’re a client of ours, you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as quickly and efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit. Your prospect will anticipate the campus visit if you’ve given them glimpses of what campus is like, why he or she would want to see the dorms, and what the surrounding community is like. Those are some of the key elements our research has uncovered as to what triggers that anticipation in the minds of your recruits when it comes to committing to a campus visit.
  1. 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 during their visit. Focus on the idea of selling a personalized tour where they’ll have the opportunity to sit down face to face with the dean of the business school if the recruit is strongly considering that area of study…or the opportunity to meet some members of your school’s drama club if that’s something they’ve indicated an interest in. Bottom line – What your recruits need is what we all need to prompt action from time to time:  A “because”. Do you have one?

In a nutshell, recruits 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 have painted for them over a period of time.

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.

A Valuable Admissions Recruiting Lesson LearnedMonday, February 16th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Overcoming an objection from a prospective student can be a difficult challenge. For many admissions counselors it’s one of the most frustrating parts of the job.

Late last fall during a one-on-one consultation with a counselor, the topic of recruiting a new territory was broached. To be clear this new territory was not a bordering state, but rather a region in a different geographic area of the country.

Fast forward to this past week when I got a phone call from that same counselor. Her recruitment in the aforementioned new territory had produced more applications than expected. Great news I said! “Yes and no,” she responded. The recruitment of those out-of-state prospects had gone so smoothly that she failed to inquire about an issue that had now become a critical objection from a handful of those recruits and their parents – “distance from home.”

For many institutions, recruiting students who will have to board a plane or spend most of a day in a car to get to campus can be a tough sell. Simply put, it can end the recruiting conversation before it even begins.

In a perfect world every prospect would be honest from the start and tell you that they won’t consider attending a college that’s a long way from home. The reality is, most recruits will rarely offer-up their true feelings until late in the game, as this counselor learned.

This situation provides a valuable lesson for all counselors who recruit out-of-state, region, or even the country. Determining those feelings right away is something that all recruiters can and should attempt to accomplish by probing. By asking smart questions and being persistent, you will learn when to pursue and when to move on.

Here are two effective questions you can ask early in the process that we’ve seen work, when trying to decide if you should invest your time and your school’s resources in that long distance prospect.

  1. As early as possible, ask the prospect why they’re choosing to look at out-of-area colleges.  Answers like, “I want to see what’s out there,” or “my parents want me to consider your school because of how much mail you’ve sent me,” should be cause for concern. If the prospect cannot verbalize a specific reason, you’ll need to probe further and attempt to discover the true meaning behind those statements. Conversely, if your long distance prospect responds by saying, “Your nursing program offers the hands-on clinical experience I’m looking for,” or “I want to go somewhere with warm weather,” those both indicate a concrete reason behind their interest in learning more about your school.
  1. Ask the parents why they would want to see their son/daughter go “away” to college.  I want you to phrase it exactly like I worded it:  “So, why do you want to see your son/daughter go away to college?”  If the answer is something like, “I don’t really want him/her to go away…but it’s good to keep all the options open,” proceed with caution.  Our research shows that when it comes time for a decision to be made, mom or dad (or both) is going to play the emotion card and push for them to remain close to home.  I’m not telling you to throw in the towel if you hear that response, however, it does mean that you really need to have the parents define why they view your school as a smart consideration for their son or daughter.  Asking this question will provide you with the information that tells you how to move forward.

Let me again reiterate that critical questions such as these should be asked sooner rather than later. Starting the conversation early on is an effective way to determine what course of action you should take with a long distance prospect that you hope to enroll.

Furthermore, I encourage you not to give up at the first sign of resistance, especially if you have an out-of-area recruit that you consider to be “high potential.” Keep the communication flow consistent, but always be listening and looking for those hidden clues. Prospects have been known to change their mind as the recruiting process moves forward. Their top local college may not come through with a strong enough financial aid package, or over time your story may be more compelling and create those all-important feelings.

Want to talk to the national experts about how to recruit specific prospects?  Become a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  You’ll get access to a group of experts who can advise you on how to approach specific recruiting situations you’re facing, and a team of off-site staff members that can create recruiting messages that work and help shoulder the load of all aspects of your recruiting duties.  Contact Jeremy today for all the details.

The One Mistake You Don’t Want to Make Down the Stretch With ProspectsMonday, February 9th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Can you believe it’s the second week of February already? That means many of you are entering the final critical phase of the recruiting cycle with this class of prospects. They’ve taken their visit, submitted their application, and in some cases admissions decisions have been sent. Now with fingers crossed, you wait.

In a world of instant gratification, waiting is not something many of us are used to doing. It can cause stress and lead to frustration, especially if you or your admissions team hasn’t had things go according to plan with this particular group of recruits. The reasons why are typically many and varied. I can tell you however that through our work with college admissions offices, we’ve identified a common mistake that many admissions professionals are making late in the process that impacts yield in a negative way.

First, some good news – If you’re making this mistake, there’s still time to fix it. You don’t have to wait until next year’s recruiting class to make changes.

During our On-Campus Workshops with admissions departments, we often discuss the importance of forming a meaningful connection with a prospect, and strengthening that bond throughout the entire recruitment cycle. You’ll note my use of the word “entire,” because here’s where the big mistake starts to occur. Too many admissions counselors shift their communication efforts into cruise control after a prospect’s application has been received.

When discussing this communication issue with counselors during 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our admissions workshop, I hear things like, “I don’t know what else to say to them until they get admitted,” or “I don’t want to bother them anymore until they get our financial aid package.” My response to those statements is simple. If you fail to have meaningful conversations at this juncture of the college selection process with your recruit, he or she is probably not going to enroll at your institution. Furthermore, if you’re having trouble coming up with things to talk to a prospect about that don’t include college admissions or your school, I’d wager to say you haven’t built that rapport yet.

Now that we’ve addressed this common misstep, let’s touch on how you can regain control of the recruiting process. Here are two easy things that any counselor can start doing immediately that will make a difference.

  1. Keep giving them reasons to pick your school. Your prospects are hungry for direction. Even as they wait for an admissions decision or financial aid package, they’re looking for good reasons to ultimately select your school. Make sure you’re giving those to them. Be creative and generate content that is specific to their needs and wants.
  1. Please whatever you do, don’t forget to talk to the parents. If you’re reading my newsletter for the first or even second time, let me explain why. Our research on how prospects make their final decision tell us that parents continue to be one of, if not the biggest outside influence in their child’s final decision. That means if you don’t communicate consistently with them during this waiting period, you leave open the possibility of unanswered questions or objections. We’ve found that a conversation with the parents during this critical time period can be insightful. They will often reveal what’s going on behind the scenes.

In this final crucial phase of the recruiting cycle you can’t just sit back and wait, and hope your prospects choose your school.  Successful admissions professionals continue to cultivate their relationship with recruits and their families, and do so in such a way that furthers their connection with you.

My biggest goal each week with this newsletter is to provide you with information and strategies that will help you become a more efficient recruiter and a better communicator.  As always, feel free to reach out to me at jeremy@dantudor.com with any questions or comments.

How You Can Create the Right Kind of Urgency With ProspectsMonday, February 2nd, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from an admissions director who reads our weekly newsletter. Her school’s deadline to apply had passed, and despite an increase in applications, she had some concerns.

During a recent staff meeting it quickly became evident to her that members of the admissions team were stressed out at the thought of having to convince more admits to say “yes.” Sound familiar? It’s a common problem amongst sales people towards the end of the sales process. You want to create urgency and break through prospect inertia without pressuring too hard and driving those recruits away.

Let me start by touching on what you don’t want to say or do according to our research, unless you and your team are okay with inconsistent yield results.

  • Don’t say something like, “I need an answer by (insert date).”
  • Don’t use threatening language such as, “You need to make a decision soon or your financial aid package may end up changing.”

Doing either one of these things can create conflict and cause distrust. Even if what you’ve said is the truth, they’re unlikely to respond to it, particularly parents who may feel you’re creating that you versus them mentality with such phrasing. I’d also add that attempting to create urgency rarely works if your message isn’t clear or your value proposition is poor.

Instead of trying to impose urgency on your prospects and risk running them off, the goal should be to help them take that next step, which they’re most likely ready to do anyways.

Here are four proven ways to create the right sense of urgency with your prospects.

  1. Build out clear, long-term timelines. This is especially helpful with younger prospects such as high school juniors. Start talking to your recruit as early as possible about timeline expectations. Even though a decision might be 12 months or more away, go ahead and lay out that timeline. Make it clear what you need from them over the next few months, and continue to build that timeline with them throughout the recruitment process. Creating a timeline together and gaining agreement from your prospect that this is how the process will play out is crucial. If you’re near the end of the process and haven’t built out a timeline with one of your seniors, I would strongly encourage you to do so immediately. You could talk to them about the timeline goals of your office, and ask what they feel is needed before a final decision about your school can be made.
  1. Talk about the why it’s important to set a deadline. For example, if you have a senior who has received multiple acceptance letters yet still talks about having months to make that final decision, give him or her logical reasons why it’s in their best interests to move the process forward. Explaining how your school’s on-campus housing process works is one way to create the right kind of urgency. Let them know that you want them to have priority consideration, but space is limited and if they wait too long other students may submit deposits. You could also ask your prospect if they’ve thought about securing tickets to sporting events or priority parking passes, both of which on some campuses are in high demand. By phrasing your concern in the form of a question, he or she will visualize the scenario and it will have a greater impact.
  1. Take away the possibility of attending your school. Talk about what their life would look like if they hadn’t received your college’s acceptance letter. In a subtle, non-threatening way, inquire about a back-up plan. How strongly do they feel about the other college’s they’ve also gained acceptance to? What some of our clients have discovered when they do this is a new critical objection. As you might imagine, many times it has to do with financial aid or distance from home. Once the objection has been clarified, you can then address it and hopefully move the process forward again.
  1. Ask what big question marks still remain. This is particularly useful late in the recruitment cycle if there’s a delay in the decision making of an admitted prospect you really want to deposit. Go ahead and ask the recruit, or his or her parents, “What are the big question marks in your mind about our school that’s making it tough to give a final commitment?” I’m not about to tell you I know what answer you’re going to receive, because the reality is this could go off in a number of different directions. Whatever feedback they give you, you can then analyze it and conclude that this is an objection we can overcome, or the prospect is having a hard time figuring out how to tell you that they’re about to choose a different school. Asking this effective question will reveal more about what they’re thinking than you can imagine. It also emphasizes the right amount of pressure and lets your prospect know that you’re trying to assist them with whatever is left to do.

Does your admissions team need personalized help creating urgency with your current and future prospects? We’re ready when you are! Contact Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information on strategies that produce results.

A Snowstorm and Preparing to Avoid Crisis With Your ProspectsMonday, January 26th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last month some friends of ours made the move from Indiana to New Hampshire.

Yesterday I checked in with them to see if they were ready for the impending snowstorm that authorities are saying could topple power lines, disrupt all transportation, and essentially cripple a large chunk of the Northeast. My friend David sent me the following text message labeled blizzard prep. “Tractor – running, plow operational, check. Gas for tractor, check. Gas for generator, check. Oil for furnace, check. Flashlights, candles, lanterns, check. Warm clothes – duh I’m a skier! CHECK! Shovels, check. 4WD vehicle, check.”

Much like New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is coordinating with dozens of local, state and federal agencies, in addition to having city agencies and DOT workers already on the go, David appears to have taken all necessary precautions and is confident that he will be prepared to handle whatever this storm throws at them.

As a college admissions recruiter or leader, a situation like this one provides an important reminder. Every so often you must ensure that each member of your admissions team is prepared to handle crisis as it relates to your prospects.

At this point you might be expecting a list of common crises during the recruitment cycle and how to handle them. Sorry, that’s not the goal of this article. Unlike my friend David and Mayor de Blasio who have no control over Mother Nature, your admissions team can take steps that will help avoid potential obstacles which slow down the recruitment process.

Here are some suggestions that I’d recommend:

  • Build rapport and the trust of your prospect. If I asked you to print off your prospect list and check off the names of those you’ve truly made a connection with, how many would that be? Can you and your prospect, as well as you and your prospect’s parents, spend time talking about something other than your college and the admissions process? Once you’ve formed those personal relationships, then you can start to build trust.  Not the other way around.  Would you trust you if you were listening to you? Without doing both of these things you will not secure commitments from the talented recruits you’re searching for.
  • Communicate consistently and in a variety of ways. You cannot expect to avoid obstacles without a consistent track of messaging every 6 to 9 days. Remember that those messages should be sequential and contain short, fact-based pieces of information with the goal of creating anticipation. Our research firmly 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 feel valued. Your recruiting campaign needs to consist of a regular flow of mail, email, phone contact, personal contact and social media.  Today’s prospective student reacts to a good combination of all of these facets of recruiting.  If you focus on only one or two communication methods, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor that will make the most of each communication resource they possess.
  • Believe the story you’re telling. This past fall I spent two days conducting one of our admissions workshops with a school that didn’t realize the importance of having a great story and using passion when relaying it to their recruits. If you always tell a compelling story you will help create those “feelings” for your prospects. A story told without passion can come across as less credible. If you don’t believe the stories you’re telling, how will they? Remember that prospects rely on those “feelings” and emotions to help them make their decision.
  • Ask good questions. This is one of the most talked-about aspects of recruiting with both our admissions and athletic clients. Almost all want to know how to get a masters degree in effective questioning, and for good reason. Are you asking good probing questions that reveal those hidden clues? Do you know what facts your recruits really care about? If you aren’t asking effective questions, you’re probably struggling at recruiting high potential students.
  • Get them to reveal any objections. We’ve talked about effectively handling objections before. How are you doing lately in this department? Are you able to get your prospects to clearly clarify an objection and how he or she came to feel that way? Or do you try and sidestep those discussions with the hope that your prospect will just forget about them? I’m here to remind you that the latter will not work. If there are unanswered questions in the minds of your prospects or their parents, you need to help them reach a solution quickly, or risk losing them to another school.
  • Tell them what to do next. We see it time and time again. The school that connects all the dots from start to finish in a clear manner runs into significantly less obstacles with their recruits. If you want them to call you, tell them that. If you want them to visit campus, tell them that. If it’s important they complete their financial aid paperwork by a certain date, tell them why and confirm that they’re aware of the aforementioned deadline. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING…EVER. Be crystal clear about the every single “next step.”
  • Affirm their commitment. When your prospect is admitted, what do you do to congratulate them on their decision? Do you ensure that they sign up for one of your admitted student days? Do you still recruit them and sell the positives of your school? Or, do you breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the next prospect? You need to reaffirm their decision and make them feel good about it. Make them know that they made the right decision, and never let buyer’s remorse settle in.

If you consistently do each of these seven things, the likelihood of the recruiting process flowing smoothly will greatly increase.

Have questions about any of this? Email Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

The Four Things Your Prospects Want When it Comes to Financial AidMonday, January 19th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

This past week I had a lengthy discussion with an admissions counselor. She reached out to me for advice after a common theme started to develop with her new admits. The excitement of receiving that acceptance letter had begun to wear off. It was now being replaced by the stress of affording to pay for college.

The first thing I did was reassure this counselor that she wasn’t alone. As we all know, similar situations like this are occurring in many other admissions offices. Accepted prospects are once again being reminded that getting in to college is only half the battle. A new whirlwind of paperwork and electronic filing awaits them.

Colleges and universities are preparing for, or in many cases, are now in the thick of financial aid season. Prospects and parents alike are gathering the information needed to complete the financial aid forms, some of which are due in the coming weeks. Too often however we hear about recruits quickly becoming overwhelmed by the lingo of financial aid. That feeling of frustration can be enhanced further if they call the admissions office, only to speak with someone who is unprepared to provide guidance, and instead passes them off to a financial aid counselor who currently has a full plate and is unavailable.

As we discuss during our on-campus workshops, throughout the entire recruitment process your admissions team must always be laying out those all-important “next steps.” Through listening and effective questioning, counselors should also have uncovered and answered any objections. Having said that, here are four more things your prospects want from you when it comes to financial aid.

  • They want an explanation of the aid package as early as possible. Prospects value schools that give financial aid estimates, even if they can’t spell out all of the package details yet. At a number of institutions the total package may not be known until March or possibly later. Walking a recruit through a projection early on, with specifics such as scholarship awards if possible, is a tangible way to show him or her that you care.
  • They want to know your school’s value. There’s no question that a strong financial aid package will increase the chances that admits submit deposits. Research tells us though that this alone is not enough value to consistently secure commitments. Counselors must sell all of the qualities of the college above and beyond the financial assistance. This includes concrete data on your recent graduates.  Knowing your school’s strengths and presenting the value proposition in the best way to connect with each individual recruit will pay dividends.
  • They want transparency. If you read this newsletter each week then you understand just how important transparency is in the eyes of your prospects. If you haven’t heard that before, I strongly encourage you to write it on a post-it note and stick it somewhere visible as a daily reminder. Here’s how it applies to the financial aid process. As I mentioned earlier, clearly stating what needs to happen next in the process is a must. Make sure your prospects know when the filing deadlines are, what forms are required, what verification means, and how loans and payment plans work. Explain that to maximize their chances of getting aid via the FAFSA, submit that form as soon as possible. If they tell you their parents make too much money so they don’t need to complete it, make sure they understand that there are many different factors that go into financial aid.  Ask them if they received even a few hundred dollars why they wouldn’t want that additional assistance. In the end if you can’t explain the details clearly, what are your prospects going to think?
  • They want you to solve their problem.  That’s right…they want you to help them figure out how to pay for college. They want you to help them find any outside scholarships and figure out what additional options they have for financing tuition and other expenses. They also want you to tell them about any financial aid seminars or workshops that your college or another local high school is hosting. Believe me when I tell you that the counselor who solves their problems will likely be the one whose school receives those deposits. Let’s be honest though, it’s unlikely that you will solve all of their problems, but if you can demonstrate that you’re trying to do so you’ll win brownie points with your prospects.

If you remember each of these four important points when you’re communicating about financial aid with your prospects, you will see greater yields.

Looking for help delivering clearer messages to your recruits? Jeremy Tiers and the staff at Tudor Collegiate Strategies work with college admissions departments around the country on a personalized basis.  To discuss your situation and how the program would work with you, email Jeremy directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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