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This Might Be Why They Didn’t Deposit to Your SchoolTuesday, May 3rd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Another ‘College Decision Day’ has come and gone. You can exhale now. I hope both you and your team reached your enrollment goals.

When it comes to students that you missed out on, typically there are many potential reasons why. If you’ve had me on campus to work with your admissions team you know that our research reveals one solid fact that every college admissions and enrollment professional should be aware of when it comes to what’s important in developing a recruitment strategy: Your prospects are trusting their feelings as they make their decision about you and your institution.

That’s the feelings you create while you recruit them, how effective your letters, emails, phone calls and social media posts are at creating the right feelings, as well as the feelings they get when they experience you and your campus community during that all-important campus visit.

We continue to see this generation of students make their choice based on how they feel and then justify it with the facts and data that they receive from you. Emotions are consistently outweighing logic. The important question then for you is, “What kind of strategies do you employ to give your prospects the feeling you want them to have about your school?”

Making them feel wanted is a great starting point. But, if you really want to break through the hard exterior of today’s teenager you need to go one step further and get to the core of that student and his or her parents.

Here are six ideas that I recommend you put into practice with this next class of prospects.

  1. Establish an early foundation for proving that you are the emotional choice that “feels” right to them. When you create an emotional tie with your prospect early in the recruitment process we’ve found that they will usually gravitate towards your school. It’s imperative to have a strategy for how to create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples I use during our On-Campus Workshop is Starbucks. They are the master of creating and managing a feeling of comfort when you walk in to any one of their thousands of stores. They use the lights, the comfy couches, the music and the free Wi-Fi. It’s all done with a purpose. As a smart recruiter you need to have a plan to create the right feelings for your next class of prospects now that the initial contact message is in their hands. If you fail to do that, you’re introducing random results into the recruitment process. So, what’s your plan for establishing a feeling that they will gravitate to over the coming months?
  2. Use keywords in your recruiting communications. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter, you know how much today’s prospective student wants to be valued and have their wants and needs viewed as important. Why not tell them exactly that? Three simple words – “I appreciate you.” Try it and see what happens. Or if you’re face-to-face with the prospect how about, “I believe in you.” Those are powerful words that your prospect will respond to. Then think of other things you can tell them in the coming weeks and months that will emphasize the idea that you appreciate and value them. In addition, this year’s class of college prospects are telling us that having an admissions counselor inquire about how a prospective student “feels” about certain things on campus gets a much more in-depth response.  It encourages open discussion without the idea that there is a “right” answer that the prospect should be giving.
  3. Write things down and then use them as future reference. Taking notes is proof and it honors someone’s thoughts. This works well in-person when you’re talking to either the recruit or their parents. It shows the other person that you value what they’re telling you. Down the road when you refer back to those notes it will remind them that you were truly listening to their wants and needs, and it shows that you treat them as a valued partner in the process.
  4. Answer “why” during the campus visit. Too many schools show what they have to offer during the campus tour but fail to answer why it matters to a specific prospect. When you answer the “why”, it allows your recruit to visualize, which is a key ingredient in creating those all-important feelings.
  5. Demonstrate more passion than the next counselor. I consider passion to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruitment. If you want to know why, click here for that article. If your prospects are using emotion to make their decision, we’ve seen plenty of cases where the counselor who shows the same kind of passion and emotion connects the best with that student. A passionate recruiter takes the time to understand the wants and needs of everyone involved in the decision making process. Doing this creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other feelings that a recruit relies on to make their final decision. Oh, and the last time I checked, passion isn’t a budget related item that your competitor has more of (unless you let them).
  6. Telling the best stories will result in enrolling the best students.  When I talk about “telling stories”, I’m not talking about lying or embellishing. You have to give your listener (your prospect) a story to buy into because they will buy it, and believe or not, they’ll even pay more for it in many cases. As you explain your school’s story, be sure to relate how that story connects to them.  The best recruiters in the country take the time to create a story that their prospects can visualize and understand. If you didn’t do that this year, it cost you and your school some of those “best fit” students.

When you create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects, and those around them, you greatly increase your school’s chances of enrolling those students.

If your enrollment numbers aren’t what you want/need, let me explain to you how our research-based approach to communicating with students is working for college and university admissions departments nationwide. All YOU have to do is email me, and we will set up a time to connect and discuss.

If Your Prospect Picks Another School, Here’s What You Should DoTuesday, April 26th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s happening right now to admissions counselors across the country: admitted students are saying thanks but no thanks to a school’s offer of admission. What’s even worse is some of those “no’s” are coming from recruits that many of you probably had penciled in as “yeses.”

The reasons will vary. Some will be legitimate, and some will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

For most of you losing a recruit to another school should not signal gloom. I phrase it that way because if your no’s start to equal or out-number your yeses, I strongly encourage you to self-evaluate and discover why your recruiting efforts are failing. If you need help correcting bad habits or mastering closing techniques, feel free to reach out to me via email.

Today I want to focus on what to do next when your undecided admits pick another school. Handling this situation effectively is something that separates an average recruiter from a great recruiter.

Here are four simple tips to help you deal with rejection from your prospect:

  1. Don’t overreact. Sounds easy enough, right? If only that were the case. You just spent months, or in some cases even longer, cultivating a relationship with the recruit and their parents, and in an instant, all your hard work goes out the window. Combine that with fatigue and stress about yield, and it’s easy to see how a negative response from a prospect could become the tipping point for some counselors. Take a deep breath and exhale before responding to their email. If you get the bad news during a phone call, try hard not to change your tone and become bitter and combative with the already nervous teenager on the other end of the line.
  2. Respond gracefully (because doing so can lead to future “yeses”). When a prospect chooses another school send them a personal note wishing them well. Why, you ask? For starters very few counselors actually do this, so it will leave a lasting impression. “But Jeremy they picked a different school so that doesn’t matter at this point.” Oh, but it does! That kind of professionalism will pay dividends down the road when others around that prospect or their parents ask about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you. This goes back to one of my personal pillars of successful recruiting – Who’s recruiting for you, when you’re not recruiting. Think about that for a minute.
  3. Ask them WHY. Successful people in any line of work learn from their mistakes. Instead of trying to end the conversation abruptly when a recruit tells you they chose a different place to spend the next four years, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them why they chose a different school, listen carefully to their answer, and thank them for their honesty. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although we’ve seen it happen before) but simply to learn. What most counselors tell us they find is there was an objection left unanswered, or the school the student chose did a better job of consistently communicating with them during the process. Once you learn to overcome objections in particular you’ll find that recruiting gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable. If you’re hearing the same objection or complaint from several prospects, it’s time to make some changes and come up with a new strategy. By doing so, I’m confident you’ll find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”
  4. Never let rejection get you down.  Counselors, specifically less experienced ones, tend to get down on themselves when a prospect rejects their school’s offer.  Many develop a negative attitude and begin dreading the recruiting process.  Remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to future success.

It’s getting late in the recruiting year.  Are the results what you expected?  More importantly, are the results what you want and need?  If the answer is “no”, then let us explain what our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program is all about.  Here’s what to do…email me at jeremy@dantudor.com so we can arrange a time to show you what other admissions departments have already discovered.

6 Pointers for Creating Impactful Recruiting LettersTuesday, April 19th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It’s the first thing my 6-year old daughter does when she gets off the school bus: She runs over to the mailbox to retrieve our mail.

This started about a year ago after she received a recruiting letter, of sorts. She had received mail before from her grandparents, but this time was different. It was a flashy envelope addressed specifically to her from the kids club at our local mall.

As we walked up the driveway, my daughter tore open the envelope. Inside was a letter with her name hand-written at the top, listing upcoming events that “members” could experience as well as other perks that came from joining the club. As she read me each bullet point the level of excitement in her voice increased! I’ll let you guess what we did 15 minutes later.

The same “feeling” that came over my daughter last spring showed up again earlier this month. Inside our mailbox was the latest edition of National Geographic for kids. Her grandparents had signed her up without telling her. After jumping up and down for a few minutes she ran inside and promptly began reading the magazine (out loud of course). Since that time she asks me every single day when the next magazine will arrive.

It’s that kind of excitement and those kinds of “feelings” that you should strive to create with prospective students when putting together your recruiting communications.

Direct mail is a vital part of any successful recruiting campaign. Despite advances in technology, your recruits continue to tell us that there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned letters:

“Letters in the mail are a really effective way to recruit students.”

“Letters are a lot better because they’re physical, but make them stand out and catch our eye so we don’t throw them away.”

Both of those quotes appeared in a recent focus group research survey we did prior to leading an on-campus admissions workshop. We see similar statements all the time in the surveys we conduct.

The bottom line is letters still matter to this generation of students. Emails can easily be deleted and text messages are sometimes ignored. Letters on the other hand are real, written proof that a prospect can hold in their hand and show others, confirming that they’re wanted.

Before I offer up some secrets to creating effective recruiting letters, I have a question for each of you. Have you ever asked yourself why you’re sending a recruiting letter? It’s an important question, and one that you need to raise. Yes it’s important for prospective students to learn more about your school.   More than anything though, each recruiting letter should be built to generate a response. When you get a response from your prospect it confirms they’re genuinely interested, and you now have a basis for future communications. This is particularly valuable during the early stages of the recruitment cycle.

Now, here are 6 pointers that you should follow if you want your recruiting letters to make a big impact.

  1. Most admissions departments and counselors start a recruiting letter with what we call a “warm up.” The first paragraph contains facts, figures, and a lot of “fluff.” I want you to get rid of the fluff. Studies have shown this generation of students doesn’t want this. If you choose to keep it, you risk them losing interest before you even get started.
  1. Your main objective in those first couple of sentences should be to grab their attention. That means formal and professional, which is what I’m guessing most of your messages currently are, isn’t going to be effective enough. You need to be more direct. Consider starting with a statement that’s short and to the point. It needs to be something that gets their attention and makes them want to read further.
  1. Visually your letter needs to be easy to read. Think about your reaction when you receive a lengthy email with all kinds of numbers and links from your boss. You’re in the middle of cleaning out your inbox and want to keep things moving along. How many times have you closed it and said, “I’ll read it later.” Do you want that same reaction from your prospects?
  1. When coming up with a list of things you want to highlight to your recruits, don’t forget to ask yourself why they will care about what you’re telling them. It has to matter to them; otherwise it won’t work.
  1. In the middle of your letter, it’s crucial that you continue to keep them hooked. This is where we see a lot of admissions departments struggle. They choose a topic and try to jam everything into one letter. That’s the wrong approach. Instead, your goal should be to give them no more than two or three pieces of information on a single topic at one time. Additional points regarding that same topic should be communicated over several weeks. The reason behind that is simple. Teenagers forget things quickly. Let’s use your school’s location as an example. If you present everything that makes it great all at once, it won’t resonate for very long.  Instead I want you to take a long-term approach, like we do with our clients when we assist them with message creation.  That way when you’re ready to move on to something else it will be clear to your prospect why your school’s location is perfect for them and why they should be excited about it.
  1. At the end of your letter think long and hard about what you want them to take away from it. Avoid being passive and saying something like, “If you or your parents have questions feel free to contact us.” That’s not effective. Instead, demand some type of action from them. If you want them to call or email you with specific information, tell them that, very clearly. Tell them when to call or let them know when to expect an email from you. Always set up the next communication.   Our research continues to confirm that your prospects want you to do that for them. If you don’t tell them what to do, don’t be surprised when they don’t respond.

If your recruiting letters aren’t generating a good response, we can help revamp them using proven techniques.  It will save you time and provide you and your team with an Admissions Recruiting Advantage.

Email me today at jeremy@dantudor.com for more information about how to get started.

A Magic Formula to Getting a Read On Your RecruitsTuesday, April 12th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week a veteran admissions counselor who reads this newsletter reached out to me for the first time. It quickly became clear that she was really frustrated, mainly with a handful of her undecided recruits.

“These teenagers,” she said. “They know all they want to know about us and it still takes them forever to make up their minds…Do you have a magic formula or something that will clue me in on what they’re thinking?”

My reply to this counselor: “Tell me what kinds of questions you’ve been asking these students lately.”

“I’m just trying to see if there’s anything else they need, and when they think, they will make a decision.”

Are you facing a similar situation?  You’re asking questions of your undecided students, and all they’re giving you is one-word or short answers or maybe even not getting back to you at all anymore.

Not a fun scenario, right?

The good news is, after you read this article you will have a strategy to use, and you won’t have to wonder about it anymore. In fact, there is a magic formula, of sorts, that you can use at any time during the recruitment process that will help erase all the mystery when it comes to what your recruits are thinking.

It’s called a follow-up question.

That’s it? You got it.

When we want to get a read on someone we ask that person a question. They proceed to respond, and typically many of us just accept their answer and move onto another topic.

Now, how many times after the fact have you thought to yourself that those responses to your questions actually revealed very little, and when it comes down to it, you learned nothing new about the other person?

The key to getting a true understanding of people and their thought process lies in asking a good follow-up question. Why then don’t more admissions counselors do that? In my experience, many counselors aren’t actually paying close enough attention to ask a detailed follow-up question. Maybe you’re on your sixth call of the night with a bunch more to go, and you’re trying to keep things moving along (I’ve actually been told this exact thing before by multiple admissions counselors). It’s really hard to ask a good follow-up question if you’re not truly “locked in” to how your recruit (or maybe their parents) responds to your initial question.

Another possibility is the “I don’t want to be pushy” justification. Often newer counselors tell me that they’re hesitant to probe further because they don’t want to seem pushy or have the recruit feel nagged.

Let’s go ahead then and put our plan into action. Here’s how a typical conversation right now with an undecided student could go. Start by asking them:

“How will you make your final decision?”

Cut to the chase and ask the student upfront how they will be making their decision on which college to attend.

After the student answers, here’s the next question I want you to ask:

“And then what?”

They’ll tell you more. And then you ask, “And then what?” again.  And they’ll tell you more. And on and on until you finally get to the real source of their decision – the financial aid package, their parents’ input, or maybe a school’s location or size. The bottom line is, you’ll know what their decision rests on.

This strategy will also work at other key junctures of the recruitment process (not just the end).

Here are a couple of other effective follow-up questions that we’ve recommended to our clients:

  • “What does that mean?”
  • “Can you help me understand that a little better?”
  • “Why is that important to you?”

I can’t stress how important asking a follow-up question is. It’s an essential tool for any business professional to use when they seek to understand how a sales decision is going to be made, or when you’re wondering what a recruit is thinking or where your school ranks versus your competition.

Try it. I’m confident you’ll like the results.

By the way, if you have a particular question, problem or recruiting issue that you want addressed and answered, don’t hesitate to email me just like that veteran counselor did last week. I’ll get right back to you.

Asking or Telling: Make Sure You’re Taking the Correct ApproachTuesday, April 5th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Most college admissions recruiters go to great lengths to tell their recruits all the reasons why they should commit or deposit to their school. Today, I’m going to show you why you might be taking the wrong approach if you’re doing it that way.

It has to do with the very subtle difference between telling your prospect to commit versus asking them if they can see themselves as a part of your school’s student body.

There’s science to back up what I’m about to tell you. The research that’s been done on this topic tells us that it’s smarter to ask and get them to visualize that commitment if you want them to eventually accept your school’s offer.

If you tell someone, particularly a young person, what you think they should do, many of them tend to shut down because they feel like you’re sending the message that you know better than they do.

When you ask your recruit to make a verbal statement about his or her intent on a future action, such as whether or not they see themselves living in your dorms or attending a campus event, they’re far more inclined to follow through with that commitment.  That research is one of the big reasons we make sure our clients know how to ask effective questions. Our customized recruiting messages are designed to start conversations between our clients and their prospects and focuses on having their prospects commit to doing things like replying to their email or coming to visit their campus.

It’s those small commitments that can signal genuine interest from a prospect.

Here are a few more things that I would recommend you do with current and future recruits that you’re targeting:

  • When you’ve received some of those small commitments that I just spoke of, ask your recruit about their intent to attend your institution.  This is an important step! Just asking the question can have a big impact on your recruit.  Don’t tell them to commit…ask them if they’re ready to commit.
  • Try hard…I mean really, really hard to get some kind of affirmative answer. Again, the research shows that if the student gives you a positive statement more than likely they will eventually act on it.
  • If you can, get them to make that statement in some kind of public way in front of their parent(s) or while they’re on campus for a visit or admitted student day event.  It drastically increases the likelihood that they will commit to you.
  • If they don’t respond in a positive way on the first try, don’t freak out. Asking consistently over time in a professional, collaborative way can build a feeling of trust and get them to understand that you and your school are serious about them.

The lesson here is pretty simple. Instead of spending time just telling your prospect how great your school is, make sure you ask them if they can see themselves as a part of your campus community. If you haven’t already done that with all of your current undecided seniors or transfers, you now know what your next move needs to be.

Gaining those small commitments throughout the recruitment process is a more effective way to getting that big commitment at the end!

Do you need help putting together the right message for your prospects? We create recruiting campaigns for admissions departments all over the country.   You don’t have to wait until the next recruiting cycle to get started. All you have to do is email me and ask about becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. Together we can dominate your competition.    

How You Can Take the Early Lead With JuniorsTuesday, March 29th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Are you ready to tackle the Class of 2021?

Yes, I know…you’re still working on this current group of students which is why each of my articles over the past six weeks has focused on conversion and yield. So, if you’re wondering what kinds of questions you should be asking down the stretch or what the silent treatment from recruits might mean, click those links because I’m here to help.

Having said that, I also know that many of the admissions counselors reading this either just started spring travel, or are about to. My goal today is to make sure you get started on the right foot with this next class of prospective students.

Spring college fairs and high school visits with juniors, or other underclassmen, should never be undervalued. Often times counselors tell me they find themselves going through the motions during these events and visits because all they can think about is converting seniors and hitting their numbers. I hope that doesn’t sound like you, but if it does, email me. I’m happy to listen and offer advice.

Your follow-up communication in the weeks after spring travel is extremely important. Early in the process many prospective students are looking to see which schools maintain consistent contact. In their minds, it’s an indicator of just how serious your school is about them.

Determining those early talking points can be a challenge for many counselors. In fact it’s one of the biggest reasons that admissions departments start working with us. They’re tired of sending the same first letter and viewbook and not generating any back and forth conversation.

It starts by defining what gets them to keep talking to you after you make that first contact.   Our research shows that when a prospect and his or her parents are comfortable engaging in conversation with an admissions counselor, that school immediately moves up the list.

Here are six things that current high school juniors want and need to know from your initial messages:

  • If possible, remind them where you met. This is a great example of the obvious getting overlooked. Most counselors don’t even think to mention where they first met a prospective student. And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that your school is serious about them initially.  It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them and more importantly why they should take the time to reply back to you.
  • Tell them what you like about them. This generation of students wants to know what you like about them. Why? Believe it or not, some of your prospects aren’t sure they’re good enough to be considered by a school such as yours. Pointing out two or three specific things a student mentioned to you, or you saw from their information, is another important way to tell them they “have what it takes” to be considered for admission to your school. If you include these first two points in your initial letters and emails, you will see an increase in replies versus a more generic, non-specific message.
  • Create curiosity. If you’re a frequent reader of my newsletter you understand that the worst thing you can do early on is cram tons of information about your college into a letter or an email. If you want a response from your prospect that is. By being short and to the point, you will leave room for their curiosity to take over. It’s also important to craft messages that after being read by your prospects leave questions unanswered. Are you doing that now?
  • Share the positives and the negatives.  Counselors that talk only about the positives associated with their school are missing the boat.  This generation of students (and their parents) is looking for colleges that are demonstrating honesty during the recruitment process. Remember, students and parents are coming into the conversation with biases for and/or against your school. If you paint a “perfect” picture in everything you show them and tell them, you run the risk of making them question whether they’re getting the real story from you. It’s best to show your “cracks” before they show up in unexpected places or at unexpected times.
  • Engage the parents. Our research finds that many parents are anxious as you begin contact with their child. They want to play a part in the recruitment process, and naturally they too have questions they want answered. While a majority of your competition will ignore the parents for as long as possible, I encourage you to do the exact opposite. Begin contact with them early and work to establish that same emotional connection. If you do, you’ll find that they’ll be more than willing to contribute useful, usable information during the process.
  • Have a call to action. This is essential if you want them to respond to you. I’m not talking about asking them to visit campus or fill out your application. There’s a time and a place for those, and it’s not always right out of the gate. Instead, try asking your prospect at the end of your email if what you’re saying matches up with their list of priorities and “must-haves.”  Not only will this demonstrate that you understand the process is about their wants and needs, but you’ll also be making them feel more comfortable engaging with you.

Early communication with a prospect is about getting a response. Your goal should be to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.

Is your admissions team stressed about converting those admits or preventing summer melt? They don’t have to be. Bring me to campus to lead one of our famous two-day training workshops. Your team will leave with more confidence and better tools that they can use immediately with recruits. The next step is to send me an email.

Breaking the Tie Between You and Your CompetitionTuesday, March 22nd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

How are you preparing to do that?

I ask because what you do during the next few weeks will in large part determine whether or not many of your undecided students choose your school.

A number of my recent articles have focused on conversion, and this one will follow that trend. Right now there’s a big group of admissions counselors around the country “sweating it out.” Your school’s financial aid staff is trying to work their magic and put together packages that will help seal the deal with your prized prospects.

Here’s something interesting that we continue to see. Typically there comes a time late in the process where the following question enters the conversation:

Your prospects and their parents are trying to figure out if, and how much, you care.

Respected business marketing guru Seth Godin makes the same point when it comes to what we look for as adults:

“We’re hyper alert to the appearance of caring. We want to do business with people who appear to care, who appear to bring care and passion and dedication to their work. If the work expresses caring, if you consistently and professionally deliver on that expression, we’re sold.

The truth is that it’s what we perceive that matters, not what you bring to the table. If you care but your work doesn’t show it, you’ve failed. If you care so much that you’re unable to bring quality, efficiency and discernment to your work, we’ll walk away from it.

It’s probably hard to argue against this line of thinking.  The majority of our research shows that prospective students are looking to see who cares the most from start to finish.  More specifically, how does the admissions staff treat them, particularly at the end of the process.

So, how can you show your prospects that you care more than the competition this time of year? Here are five basic strategies that have consistently worked for our clients:

  1. Keep them updated as the process unfolds. We continue to find that a lot of admissions counselors make the fatal mistake of not communicating regularly with their recruits during this nerve-racking time of year.  In many cases you’re waiting for information just like your undecided prospect. That’s fine, but you need to consistently give them an update on what’s going on.  Even if your latest update has nothing new to report, this is a must do! I can’t stress this key point enough.
  1. Provide them with examples of how you’re working behind the scenes to help get them the best possible package. The more that you can use this time to demonstrate how you are doing some heavy lifting behind the scenes for them goes a long way towards getting them to perceive that you care more.  Remember, what we perceive is even more important than what we are doing in many instances (actually caring and working hard behind the scenes is important too of course!)
  1. Get to know the parents (if you haven’t already). If you read this newsletter often, then I probably sound like a broken record. The thing is, often times the recruitment process is so rushed that counselors never really take the time to get the parents on their side (if you were at my IACAC presentation a few weeks ago you know this a BIG mistake that many counselors make, and one that needs rectifying). I want you to make a concerted effort to contact your prospects’ parents and ask them questions about their son or daughter. Not sure what to ask them? Email me, and I’ll help you. Spending time with the parents is critical to setting yourself apart from other counselors who don’t have a deep relationship with family members other than their prospect.
  1. Ask them what objections they need answered.  Just because you still have good back-and-forth conversation with your prospect this late in the process doesn’t mean they are ready to say “yes” once that financial aid package comes in. Take this time to ask them these two questions: “Give me one or two big questions about our school that you’re still trying to figure out.” and “If there was one thing about campus that you could change, what would it be?”  Those two questions just might open up a new conversation about an objection that’s still on the table. If you don’t ask these questions, though, you’ll never be 100% certain.
  1. Connect them with your current students. “Your students made me feel like they wanted me more than all of the other colleges combined” and “The more I talked to students, the more it became clear that everybody is just one big community that looks out for each other.” Those are just a couple of the recent responses we received when we asked students what the deciding factor was that led them to pick their current college. Your current students, specifically your freshmen, just went through the same tough choices and dealt with the same sorts of feelings that many of your undecided prospects are dealing with right now. Are you creating opportunities for them to connect? It can tip the scales in your favor very easily if you do.

Right now many of your recruits are trying to figure out how to “break the tie” between you and the other colleges they’re considering. You need to prove to them that you care more than the other guys. It may be the most important thing you’ve done to this point!

Considering doing some staff training this summer or fall?  We can make it easy for you, and I guarantee it will be the most comprehensive two days of recruiting skills training that you’ve ever experienced.  Did I mention it’s also inexpensive? Your next step is to click this link and email me.

Bringing in the Best Class PossibleTuesday, March 22nd, 2016

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

In his first post, which you can read here, Switay talked about keeping up with the inquiries.  His second post offered tips to help other counselors successfully climb the admissions ladder. 

 

By Brian Switay:

Your applications have been read and decisions are being made. Take a breath and relax at least for a couple of days by watching some March Madness and catching up on your Netflix shows.

Once those decisions are sent it is a whirlwind of phone calls, emails, appeals and Admitted Student Day, or in our case, Admitted Student Weekend events. Yes, at Stevens we hold a free for all open house on both a Saturday and Sunday! So, you might be thinking to yourself, not a problem, I will show up for work, answer a few questions and go home, no big deal. Well as you probably know, Admitted Student Day is the one of the most important events that your department will hold. This All-Hands-On-Deck attitude can be the catalyst of a great recruiting class.

So, what can you do during Admitted Student Days to bring in the best class possible and ensure that all those late nights and long days weren’t for nothing? Here are some ideas:

  1. Drink Coffee, plenty of Coffee (bring gum to combat Coffee breath!) You will need to keep your energy up because answering questions with a smiling face never ends.
  2. Get involved, don’t stand around. Most of you will be assigned a certain task throughout the day, and that is fine. Take the time to mingle and interact with families. Inquire about how their day is going. Some of the most frustrating answers we hear about why students did not end up enrolling are “No one asked me questions” or “I didn’t have enough interaction with my counselor/school.”
  3. Ask what other kinds of schools they are considering or what are some of the factors that the student would like to have in their campus environment. Listen closely and then follow up by showing the student/family exactly how your school can offer what they are looking for.
  4. Know who is working the event that day, specifically what professors from what department. Many times students and families would like to meet with a certain professor or student organization/office on campus. Many times, it is Financial Aid. Try to absolve all these questions to the best of your ability, but if you are unable, know where to bring the family so you can get them the answers they are looking for. One of the worst things is looking around and not knowing who can help fix/address the problem a family is having. Preparation is paramount!
  5. Business Cards…hand them out. Once you answer a question, follow up with a business card (1 per family is sufficient). That way when they go home and digest everything that has been marinating within their brains throughout the day, they know who/where they can turn if questions arise. Seems basic, but I have attended Admitted Student Day events where this never happens.
  6. Be Excited. So obvious I know, but if you don’t look excited to be there, then why should your students be excited to be there as well?
  7. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. Just listen to the requests of families.  Don’t assume you know what they are thinking.

I know that most of this seems to be very basic, but you would be surprised at how quickly one might forget these little things.

After all the planning, packing and staging of swag happens, you can find yourself already exhausted. Reach deep and find the will to power through the next couple of days and land the outstanding class that you are striving to achieve. You can relax once you are home that evening (that is until your emails and phone start ringing off the hook). I wish you the best of luck bringing in your class.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianatStevens to discuss this with me further!

How to Make Sure Your Admitted Student Day Events Pay OffTuesday, March 15th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

“Cautiously optimistic.” That’s the phrase I keep hearing not only from our clients, but also during my conversations with other admissions leaders across the country. Applications, admit numbers, and even deposits in many cases are up.

All of that is fine and good, and you should be excited! At the end of the day, though, it’s all about conversion. So, what’s your school’s plan this year? More specifically, how are you going to make sure your admitted student day events pay off?

Many of these events have become so well organized that accepted students are shuffled from spot to spot and end up only seeing and hearing what the admissions office wants them to. It’s not that the information presented isn’t valuable. The problem is that prospective students tell us all the time that they never got the chance during an admitted student day event to get a real “FEEL” for what being a student would be truly be like.

I’ll ask the same question again then because I think it’s that important – What’s your plan to make sure that your college’s admitted student day event doesn’t mirror everybody else’s? This generation wants and needs to see, hear and feel something different. There is no alternative if you want to consistently win your recruiting battles and increase enrollment.

Before we discuss some strategies to improve your admitted student days, I have another vital 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? There needs to be a “because.” Our ongoing focus group research on campuses big and small, public and private, continues to back this up. Giving your admits a reason, like there’s something important you want to talk with them about, is step number one.

Here are some other proven strategies 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.

  • Work to gain agreement along the way. I started with this bullet point because not enough admissions counselors do this, yet it’s such a crucial piece of the puzzle if your admitted student day event is going to seal the deal. It’s imperative that throughout the recruitment process you get your prospects to verbalize that they like what they’re seeing as well as the stories that they’re hearing about your institution. If you read this newsletter regularly or you’ve had me on campus to lead a training workshop, you know I call these the “little yeses.”
  • Make your invite look different. Stop trying to cram a ton of information and visuals onto a single page or piece of paper. That’s what your competition does. I want you to be more creative. The goal of your invite should be to get their attention. Personalization is one way to achieve that. 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 or post card.
  • Not just weekends but weekdays. Everyone has Saturday admitted student day events. How many students and families do you think you’re missing an opportunity with because that doesn’t fit their schedule? Consider Monday through Thursday offerings. It won’t appeal to everyone, but if I told you that making this option would result in another 10, 20 or 50 students enrolling, what would you say?
  • Solve your biggest problem. Building on the last bullet point, have you ever asked yourself what the most annoying part of your admitted student day event is for your admits and their families? Maybe it’s your parking situation, or lack thereof. Maybe your campus is hard to navigate. Whatever “it” is, become a problem solver on behalf of your audience. It won’t go unnoticed.
  • Give them more than just the same old information sessions. Academic information sessions and learning how to register for classes are important. I’m not arguing that point. However, when you have admitted students that still don’t know if they fit into your campus community along with parents who are still trying to figure out how all the bills will get paid, I strongly encourage you to give them a little more in those areas. When it comes to those academic sessions, what kind of true engagement are you creating between your admits and your faculty? Developing a level of comfort with somebody who will actually be teaching them at some point is a big positive. I’ve got one more for you. We all know how confusing financial aid can be. It would be great if every school reading this had the personnel to offer one-on-one financial aid meetings…obviously that’s not the case. How then are you going to help walk your recruits and their families through what’s typically the biggest “objection” on almost every campus in America?  You need to come up with an effective strategy.
  • Make sure you’ve answered all their objections. One of the biggest reasons counselors fail when it comes to recruiting is they fail to overcome all of their recruit’s objections. Very few prospects are going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer all 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, then be prepared to answer it during the visit.
  • Separate the student and their parent(s). I’ve talked before about the importance of doing this during the campus visit, and it’s no different for an admitted student day. You need to create an unforgettable experience for everybody. One of the biggest things that every single one of your admits wants is a “feeling” of fitting in. It’s hard to make that happen if the only student they really interact with is their tour guide. The more current students they meet (student led panels, etc.), the greater the chance that they’ll connect on a personal level. Like it or not, today’s generation of students wants real and raw. Being able to ask questions of current students without mom, dad or an admission staffer around can give them that. I’ll even go so far as to tell you to allocate some time during your event where your admitted students literally do nothing but “hang out” with your current students. Trust me, it works! On the parent side, if you’re not already doing a parent led panel session, why not?
  • Create An Emotional Moment. Emotions impact our decision making plain and simple. Are you creating an atmosphere that makes an emotional moment possible? Here are two quick examples that I’ve seen work on multiple campuses. The school President has the students and families over to his or her house to play games and socialize not only with him or her but other people in the community such as influential business leaders.  All of the admits and their family members assemble on the school’s football field for a picture.  They form the school’s letters or the outline of the school mascot.
  • Tell them you want them, and ask them if they want to commit. Never assume anything. Unfortunately, a lot of counselors assume that once their prospects have been admitted, it’s obvious their school wants them. I’m here to tell you that isn’t always the case. They need to hear it again…now more than ever, actually.  If by this point you haven’t verbalized those words yet, do it before they leave campus. Say something like, “Are you feeling like you’d be ready to be a part of our student body?” Don’t be scared to “ask for the sale.”

Admitted student days are a key component of the college recruitment cycle. Try using one or more of these ideas, and watch what happens!

Want us to help you turn an average admitted student day event into an awesome one? We can do that! Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

10 Questions to Ask Your Recruits Down the StretchTuesday, March 8th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present at the Indiana Association for College Admission Counseling congress event. Afterwards, I had multiple admissions counselors come up to me and express their concerns about “doing enough” late in the process with this next class of recruits. It’s an important topic and one that I briefly touched on in an article a few weeks back.

Today I want to expand on that. The job of recruiting high-level students doesn’t just involve “selling” your school.  A huge chunk of it, especially down the stretch, revolves around being the counselor that can get them to communicate with you more than they do with your competition. If you can do that, you’ll get rid of that degree of mystery that surrounds the later stages of the college recruitment process. It’s achievable, but it requires you to ask effective questions.

So, here are some fresh questions and ideas on topics that we’ve seen work in the difficult quest to get information from your recruits, specifically your admitted ones.

Some of these may yield very little, or they could produce vital information that will tell you how to close them at the end of their decision making process.

  1. Who are you leaning on to help you make a final decision? I see many counselors ask a version of this question during the early stages of the recruitment process which is great. Here’s the thing, though. We hear stories all the time of students being influenced both more and less by those same individuals down the stretch. That’s why I want you to ask it again right now because in some cases things have changed. Once your recruits tell you, ask yourself how well you’ve recruited those other individuals.  If the answer is “not that well,” or “I’m not sure,” you know what you need to do later tonight.
  1. What are they telling you?  This is a great follow-up question to the first one because if your recruit answers this, you’ll know exactly where you stand with them.
  1. Can you see yourself living here on campus?  If they can’t verbalize that with some kind of specificity and clarity, it means they haven’t been picturing it in their mind which unfortunately is a bad sign.
  1. What are you and your parents talking about at home when it comes the idea of being a student here?  I think we can all agree that in most cases, as the parent’s opinion of you and your institution goes as we enter the final days of their decision making process, so go your chances of them depositing to your school.
  1. If you were going to tell me “no” at the end of the process, what do you see being the #1 reason you’d end up doing that?  I want you to get them to play “what if” with you.  Science tells us their answers are almost always based in reality.  If they’re going to tell you “yes” or “no,” you’ll most likely get a hint of that using hypothetical situations. We’ve also heard from counselors who ask this question that it revealed a last minute objection that they thought they’d already overcome.
  1. Why did we end up being one of the colleges that made your final list?  It is always a good idea to get them to verbalize what they liked about your school in the first place as we enter the home stretch.
  1. Do you plan visit any other college campuses?  Maybe they’re done visiting campuses, and maybe they’re not.  If they aren’t, you need to know why.  Our research finds that too often schools slow down their communications after the student is admitted. Meanwhile, the competition, some of who may have entered the conversation later on, continues to consistently tell their school’s story and create those all-important feelings that today’s student uses to make their decision.
  1. When do you see us being able to talk again about all this?  If their answer is sometime in the next couple of weeks, that’s a good sign. If they tell you they’re not sure, but they’ll “keep in touch”, that’s a red flag.  I’m not saying that the student won’t be picking your school, but would you tell your high school prom date that you’ll “keep in touch” before the big night?  Probably not.
  1. What do you want to see us talk about next?  Hopefully they give you a new topic that is central to their decision making process that they haven’t brought-up before.  Again, the goal during this time of the year is to keep them talking. Your recruits need to feel free to communicate new questions or ideas to you. If you haven’t cultivated trust with them, this question probably won’t yield very much information.
  1. Are you feeling like you’re ready to commit to our school? If you’ve been through our 2-day On-Campus Workshop experience, you know how important it is to “ask for the sale.”  I’m willing to bet that right now each of you has some admitted students that are ready to deposit…if you just ask them. Even if they aren’t ready, that’s okay. But you’ll never know unless you ask. It’s important to keep the process moving forward, and this is the best question you can ask in order to make them feel wanted.

Let me reiterate that down the stretch you need to be the counselor that can get recruits to communicate with you more than they do with your competition. It’s hard to do that if you don’t ask the right questions.

Try these questions out, and then email me and tell me how they work for you!

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