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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

When an admissions department brings us to campus to lead one of our popular training workshops, part of what we do is conduct extensive focus group research with their student body, specifically their freshmen. The questions we ask produce honest, valuable feedback on a number of different parts of the student recruitment process. Students have no problem singling out a specific counselor on a job well done, nor do they mince words about specific things their school’s admissions team needs to improve/change.

Throughout the workshop I reference the survey results and compare them to what students at other colleges and universities nationwide tell us.

In a nutshell, the college or university we’re working with discovers how this generation of student wants to be recruited and what matters to them most/least when it comes time to make that BIG decision.

Along with that focus group research, I regularly interact with teenagers and those in their early 20’s at college fairs, community events, restaurants, the mall, and yes, even in airports when I travel.

My goal is always the same: I want to hear what your “typical recruit” wants from you during the college search/transfer process…because then I can share this with you (if you’re a client of ours, or if you reach out to me and ask) and you can use that information to become a more efficient, more confident recruiter.

In honor of today being September 13th, I’m going to give you 13 things/themes that thousands of students have told us over the past year as it relates to the college recruitment process. I encourage you to share this information with your fellow counselors and others on your campus:

  1. The majority of prospects still only “seriously consider” two or three colleges.
  2. Most colleges and universities have gaps in their communication plans and students notice. They want more consistent communication specifically between the time they deposit/commit to when they arrive on campus. I would add that conversation should shift from why they should want to pick your school to why they’ve made such a great decision and what they should expect to see when they arrive on campus.
  3. Too many schools exaggerate or “lie” (yes students believe colleges “lie”) when they initially discuss things like cost and the overall “student experience” on their campus.
  4. “More texting, less phone calls.” When asked if they agree or disagree with this statement when it comes to college admissions counselors communicating with prospective students, here are some quotes that contain common themes:

“I think that texting can be useful for students when they are busy. Most seniors in high school are trying to figure out college apps, trying to finish schoolwork, and most likely running around to all the other things they do. Texts can be a much easier way to quickly get a message across. However, I think texting only goes so far. It’s great for scheduling phone calls and such, but having conversations about the school and whatever should be done on the phone. The conversation will flow easier and the prospective student will be able to ask questions as they come to mind.”

“I think phone calls are more important because it is much easier to ask questions however, I think if asked we would say text more often because this way we do not have to respond or feel dumb. Most of us are afraid of the phone call but it does force more communication something that is important in this process even if we do not know we need it.”

“Depends on what the student is comfortable with. Some kids HATE talking on the phone and are much more comfortable talking over text. However, sometimes it can be unclear and it is definitely not as personal. I think it depends entirely on the student.”

“Disagree. Phone calls show u are willing to take time for me as a student and not shoot me an automated txt.”

“I disagree with this statement — phone calls seem more personable, and you can understand the tone of the other person’s voice, rather than just guessing VIA text message. Plus, text messages seem so informal.”

“No, because it is hard to communicate certain things by text message. Things may get lost in translation and you have to wait periods of time before getting a response.”

  1. When given the choices of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, students consistently told us that the best social media platform for admissions counselors to use if they want to connect with this next class of prospects is Facebook.
  2. Be up on pop culture, but if you don’t know about people like DJ Khaled, don’t pretend to.
  3. Out of a list of fifteen, the top two factors that were “very important” in terms of how they influenced a student to choose that school over other colleges were the “feel” of the campus,” and “perception of the college as a whole”. The “feel” of the campus was also number one a year ago. “More affordable than some other schools”, which was number two a year ago, has dropped down the list to number five.
  4. During campus walking tours, colleges still spend way too much time talking about the history of the school and various buildings. In that same list of fifteen factors that students use to make a final decision “the history of the school” ranks second to last.
  5. Overall colleges are doing a better job of explaining the financial aid process…BUT only 51.7% of students believe colleges are doing an “awesome” job of it. Instead it’s “okay”, “poor” or “very poor”. Would your school’s President be happy with 51.7%?
  6. Colleges don’t utilize their current students nearly enough during the student recruitment process. Your prospects would love to connect more with them on an individual basis versus you communicating something they said secondhand.
  7. Personal, handwritten notes make a huge positive impression on your prospects…who value the time you commit to doing so versus posting on social media or sending an email. And if you’re wondering when a good time is for such a note, how about right after you talk to them on the phone for the first time or in the first couple of days after the campus visit.
  8. If your school doesn’t communicate with parents consistently throughout the recruitment process (especially during on-campus events), you’re making it twice as hard to get that prospect to deposit to your school. Not impossible, just much harder.
  9. It’s not about your wants and your needs as a counselor. It’s about their wants and their needs from start to finish.

How can I help you grow and win? Seriously, I want to know. If you’re hesitant to connect with me because part of you is worried all I’m going to do is talk about Tudor Collegiate Strategies and push our products…THAT’S NOT ME! So go ahead and email me OR stop by booth 853 next week at the NACAC National Conference, and we can talk in person about #growandwin.

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.

Will They Choose You?Friday, October 10th, 2014

It’s a hard thing to crack – the mind of a teenager. If you can figure out why 17 and 18 year-olds make the decisions they do, I encourage you to write a book because it’s a safe bet that you’d become a wealthy person.

Admissions staffs across the country are constantly trying to understand how their recruits make their final decisions. Many believe that it’s based on factors that they don’t have any control over. Actually you do…but hold that thought.

We hear the same stories from our clients all the time as to why their prospect chose another school that was a “better fit.” A few common ones are:

  • They choose with their hearts and don’t look at the big picture
  • They rely on other others to help them decide
  • They use random statistics to justify their actions

How then can you overcome this unfounded behavior? Tudor Collegiate Strategies founder, author and speaker Dan Tudor has some techniques that will improve your success rate.

  • Make your case with more passion than the other guy. If your prospects are using emotion to make their decision, go ahead and show the same kind of passion and emotion. And remember, passion isn’t a budget related item that your competitor has more of (unless you let them).
  • Challenge them: Tell them that they are going about all this the completely wrong way.  Once you have their attention, make your case that they need to reconsider how they’re deciding on a school.  Get them to take a second look.  Compel them to continue the conversation with you…but start it off by contending that they are doing it wrong right now.  Get their attention!
  • Ask them, “Is that the smart way to do it?”  Maybe the answer is yes.  Or maybe it isn’t.  Asking that question and actually getting them to think about everything in a new light is one of the most productive challenges you can issue during the admissions recruiting process.
  • Always include the parents and high school counselor.  Clue them in on what you’re talking to the prospect about, and why it’s important that your point of view should be seriously considered.
  • Exude a confidence – even if you’re not feeling like you have any! – That tells them they’d be CRAZY not to choose you.  No explanation needed.  The only thing I’ll tell you is that your prospect and their family are looking at you closely, and trying to figure out if you really believe what you’re selling.

We’re beginning our planning sessions with new clients for this next recruiting class.  Want to talk to us about working one-on-one with you and your staff to develop a rock-solid recruiting plan?  Contact Jeremy Tiers directly at jeremy@dantudor.com so we can set up a time to discuss how we do it, and why it works.

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