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You Have to Ask Them Better QuestionsTuesday, December 11th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Last week I talked about paying close attention to the way that you start your sentences when you talk to prospective students. The words that you choose to use will either elicit a response, or you’ll get a whole lot of nothing.

The same thing goes every time you ask questions. Depending on the words you use, you’re either going to get the “right” answer (Aka the answer the student thinks they should give you), no answer at all, or an insightful answer with context and usable information.

Standard, vanilla questions produce standard, vanilla answers. You simply don’t come away with anything useful. A perfect example of that happened last week with San Antonio Spurs basketball coach Gregg Popovich. After a loss to the LA Lakers in which LeBron James scored 42 points, a reporter asked Coach Popovich why it was so difficult for his players to guard LeBron. “Have you watched LeBron play before?” Popovich said with a straight face, pausing for an eye roll and dramatic head shake. “He’s LeBron James. That’s what makes him difficult to guard.”

I want you to always ask yourself, “What do I hope to learn by asking this question?” If you do that consistently, you’ll be able to formulate a better, more effective question.

Three other important things I want you to keep in mind:

  • In your first conversation, don’t bombard them with all kinds of yes/no questions and a push to visit campus or complete their application. Do that, and it’s likely you’ll overwhelm them. Concentrate more on putting the student’s mind at ease and eliminating any fears they might have. Your goal should be to get them comfortable enough to talk back-and-forth with you. For some students that might actually take multiple conversations, and that’s okay.
  • While many of the best questions are open ended and probing, closed questions (questions that can be answered with a yes or a no) are helpful in some situations, such as negotiations. There comes a point where it’s imperative to not allow the other person to avoid answering the question.
  • Avoid using complicated admissions and enrollment management jargon.

Now, here are a few examples of questions that have been turned into better questions:

Question: What are you looking for in a college?

Better Question: What are two things that your future college has to have?

Question: What can I help you with right now?

Better Question: What’s the most confusing part of the college search process for you right now?

Question: Are you going to finish your application soon?

Better Question: Can you help me understand why you started your application but haven’t finished it yet?

Question: What did you think of the visit?

Better Question: What did you like the most about our campus?

After you ask any question, be prepared to ask a follow-up question based on the answer you get back. Follow up questions show that you’re listening, you care, and you want to know more. Three great ones that can be used in a number of different situations are:

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

If you need help turning a question into a better question, shoot me a quick email…happy to help.

P.S. It’s also worthwhile to create a list of effective questions (Google Doc or something similar) that can constantly be updated by the admissions counselors, tour guides, student callers, etc. That way everybody has something to reference when it comes to common situations.

Do You Have the Answer Yet?Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

“Apps are up” is something I’m hearing a lot this fall as I talk with college admission leaders. Our conversation then quickly turns to how their staff will manage a busier than usual application load.

When a student applies to your school they’re demonstrating a level of interest. They’re also giving you what I referred to in a recent article as a “little yes.” Accumulating those “little yeses” each time you communicate with a prospective student or parent is important because it will make asking for the big yes down the road (their commitment/deposit to your school) much easier and less stressful because they’ve already given you a bunch of agreements along the way.

While positive interactions are valuable and important, negative feedback can also be extremely helpful. That may sound a little confusing but stick with me here because this is a strategy that will help you keep things moving forward with a lot of your students who have applied.

It’s been proven that young people are driven by fear. And that means in many cases they continue to have very little apprehension when it comes to not exactly telling admissions counselors the whole truth during their college search process.

Because of this it’s extremely important for admissions counselors to continue to ask effective, targeted questions after a student applies. Sitting back and waiting because you either don’t want to come across as pushy or you’re convinced they know everything they want/need to know, is not a smart strategy at this stage. Do either and it’s likely you’ll lose more students later on than you anticipated because some were never telling you the whole truth to begin with.

Instead, here’s what I want you to do next. Put together and/or print a current list of all of your apps.

Now, if I asked you to tell me what the one thing is that may prevent each of those students on your list from matriculating after being admitted, do you know what the answer is? It might even be more than one thing. And please don’t assume “cost” if you aren’t sure. If a student hasn’t told you something specific, it’s time to search out that answer.

Go ahead and ask a question like, “If you were going to tell me no at the end of this process and choose another school, what do you think would be the #1 reason why you’d do that?”

If cost or financial aid is their answer, I want you to immediately ask a follow-up question like, “Help me understand that better.” You need to get them to explain the why behind that answer because I continue to find that a lot of students just default to saying cost or financial aid because it’s the easy way out.

Once you have that answer, it’s now time come up with a strategy to help the student or parent(s) overcome their objection or fear.

The sooner you can gather this information and help them overcome their objection or alleviate their fear, the greater the chance they’ll take the next step in their process.

Let me also add that depending on the size of your school, you may have to sort your list of apps further based on other measures of demonstrated interest. Start with the highest ranking students or those who have shown the most demonstrated interest to this point and then work your way backwards. This will help you manage your time effectively.

One more thing – It’s very rare for a student or parent(s) not to have an objection (big or small) or fear about every single college that’s under serious consideration. Whether they choose to tell you about it or not depends on the recruiting relationship that you have or have not created and cultivated up to this point.

If you have a question about this article or you’d like my advice on a specific situation you’re dealing with, reply back and we’ll talk.

Have a great rest of your week!

Doing This After the Campus Visit??Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

During a workshop I led last Friday, one of the things we discussed was personalizing the campus visit experience.

Part of that has to do with what you do, or don’t do, in the days following a student’s visit (i.e. your post-visit strategy). And by post-visit strategy, I’m not talking about sending a handwritten “thank you for visiting” note. That’s a nice touch, but there’s more to it than that if your goal is to continue to keep the process moving forward with that student.

As I explained to both the admissions staff and performing arts leadership during the aforementioned workshop, no student leaves a campus visit feeling the same way about that school as when they arrived. They’re either more excited or disappointed.

That’s why it’s extremely important for admissions counselors to ask targeted questions as part of their post-visit strategy. Doing so can provide counselors with some of the best information possible during a critical point in the student recruitment process. In most cases, the student will reveal all kinds of new information about their timeline as well as new feelings (both likes and dislikes) they may have following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them the right kinds of questions.

Before I give you some targeted questions to use, let me start by addressing when and how this follow-up conversation should take place.

A lot of counselors tell me they meet with students/families after the walking tour or near the end of the visit. Their tendency is to immediately say something like, “So what did you think, Jeremy?” That eventually leads to some version of, “What questions can I answer for you now?” This strategy isn’t wrong, but my advice is to avoid this line of questioning at that time. Most students are still trying to process everything they just saw along with all of the information they received and conversations they had throughout the day.

Instead, my recommendation is that during your conversation with the student you make it clear that you know it was a busy day with a lot of people and a lot of information, so you want to give them a little time to process everything and talk things over as a family. Discuss setting up a short phone call together in the next 2-3 days and make it clear that the goal of that phone call will be to answer any questions they have and to discuss the student’s next steps. Make it a goal to schedule that call before they leave campus.

Here are some questions that I’ve recommended to admissions counselors that have produced valuable, actionable information. Consider asking the student one or more of these:

  • Can you walk me through what happens next for you?
  • What are one or two things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve seen it?
  • What did your parents say about the visit when you talked with them?
  • What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?
  • What was the worst part of your visit here?
  • Did your visit here change how you feel about <Your school name>?
  • Are you planning to visit any other colleges soon?
  • What do you think the best part about living on our campus would be?
  • Would you be interested in coming back to campus later this year for a different event?
  • If you came back for another visit here, what would you want to see or experience again?
  • What do you want to see us talk about next?
  • Are you ready to take the next step in the process with us?

And if you have an opportunity to speak with the parent(s), consider asking one or more of these questions:

  • What advice did you give <Student name> after the visit?
  • What did you talk about the most as a family on the way home?
  • What were the biggest positives about our campus that stuck out to you?
  • What surprised you the most about our campus?
  • What do you see as the next step in this process for <Student name>?

Each one of these questions will allow you to gain some insights into how the student and their family are now viewing your school. Based on the answers you receive, you can then determine what your next set of actions needs to be.

Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your week!

P.S. Growing the campus visit program (i.e. adding more tour guides, hiring someone whose sole job is to manage the tour guides and your events, and increasing the amount of training that’s provided for tour guides) is one of FOUR RECRUITING STRATEGIES I believe we’ll see more of in college admissions and higher ed over the next few years. The other three?

I believe social media, specifically current student VLOGs, will grow in popularity and become part of an effective digital communication strategy.

I believe that colleges will create specific student advisory groups to offer feedback on specific recruitment projects. As an example, I talked to a social media manager the other day that created an influencer project team at her school this year designed to identify social media influencers.

And I believe that the number of colleges offering and investing in Esports programs will grow significantly.

Have You Asked These Questions Yet?Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Today’s article will take you about 60 seconds to read and will give you a massive ROI if you follow through. Here we go!

Every time a college brings me to campus to lead a recruiting training workshop, I ask at least a couple of the admissions staff what was most helpful. One of the biggest things I hear goes something like, “I love all the questions that you gave us.”

Asking the right kinds of questions is without a doubt a game changer and something that will immediately separate you from your competitors.

Most of the students you’re recruiting are more than happy to share all kinds of useful and usable information if you simply ask questions about them, their process, their wants, needs, fears, concerns, likes, dislikes, etc. In some cases, they’ll tell you exactly how to successfully recruit them to your school.

With that in mind, here are four questions that you should immediately ask every single prospective student on your list (if you haven’t already)…especially seniors and juniors, and especially those with high demonstrated interest in your school. These questions will elicit a response, and that response can help you to move the process forward.

You can ask these questions during college fairs, high school visits, campus visits, in an email, letter, or over the phone.

  • What’s the biggest fear you have as you’re looking at different colleges?
  • What does the best college look like in your mind?
  • Have you and your parents had a conversation yet about paying for college and financial aid? (Whether they answer yes or no, your follow-up question should focus on the “4 buckets.” If you don’t know what I mean, click that link and scroll down)
  • What do you see as the next step in your college search?

If you ask one or more of these questions and then aren’t sure where to steer the conversation next, email, call or text me, and I’ll give you some immediate feedback. No strings attached.

Good luck, and check out the rest of this week’s newsletter for more tips, strategies, and news you need to know.

Last Week I Forgot to Tell YouTuesday, September 4th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

    

Last week I gave you some advice about fall travel.

As I was responding to many of your emails about this topic, it got me thinking that it might be helpful for me to expand on something I said in that article.

Part of the problem in getting and keeping the attention of prospective students at a college fair or during a high school visit is that too many admissions professionals repeat the same “elevator pitch” over and over. Now, multiply that by the number of college reps that a student talks to at a fair, for example, and you can see how that could become annoying real fast.

Not all students are alike. Meaning, you shouldn’t take the same approach with every single one of them.

In order to get them excited enough to fill out your school’s inquiry card or to take whatever the next step is, you need to know more about who they are and what their wants, needs, and fears are as they’re looking at different colleges.

As I’ve mentioned before, the easiest ways to do that is by asking effective questions. Your goal in those first 15-20 seconds should be to ask one or two open-ended questions that are easy to answer and show the student you’re making the conversation about them. This approach will allow you to gather enough information to put together a response that will hopefully peak their interest and/or help them solve a problem.

Teenagers are no different than the rest of us. If you wait and give them information when they want it and are ready to receive it, they’re more likely to remember it, see the value in it, and take action because of it.

If you’re in a rush to deliver information, there’s a pretty good chance that the student is going to feel rushed and/or pressured. Remember, not all inquiry cards are equal, meaning some students will fill them out just so they can walk away and be done talking to you.

Have fun with these interactions because when you’re excited and you ask the right kinds of questions I guarantee you that just about every student will gladly talk about themselves and share all kinds of useful tidbits of information. Those will be extremely valuable during future conversations so make sure your focus is 100% on them and not on other students hanging around your table or waiting in line.

When you consistently take this personalized approach not only at fairs/school visits but also with your follow-up emails, letters, hand-written notes, phone calls, and texts, it becomes much easier to get the student to take action when you say something like, “I’d love to get you on campus and be able to show you instead of just telling you. If I send you some information about visiting campus and what you’ll be able to see and do when you’re here, can you and your parents figure out a day to come do that?”

Good luck, and travel safe!

A Better Way to Answer QuestionsTuesday, July 24th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I would argue that the most successful admissions counselors are able to get prospective students and parents to communicate more with them throughout the college search process than they do with their counterparts at other schools.

Besides cultivating trust, a big part of making that happen comes down to asking effective questions. These are questions where the student or parent reveals the why behind something. They do that because the question asks for their opinion or input, and thus they feel valued. Oftentimes they’ll even open up further and provide you with additional insights and useful information for future conversations.

In addition to knowing what kinds of questions to ask at various stages of the recruitment process, just as important is knowing how to effectively answer a question that comes from a student or parent…especially a yes/no question.

What do you do right now when you get one of those? If you just answer yes or no, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity.

Instead, I would recommend that when you’re asked a question, you should consider answering in the form of a question. Let me explain.

When a prospective student or parent asks you or one of your colleagues a question, it’s a sign that they’re interested in your school. I promise you, they’re not asking every college questions. That level of interest could be a lot, or it could be a little. Your job is to find out which one. Here’s how taking a different approach will help you to do that and more.

Let’s say a student asks you, “Do you offer campus tours on weekends?” The easy answer is, “Yes.” There’s nothing wrong with that response, but there’s a distinct possibility that the student won’t take any immediate action and thus you’ve helped to delay a possible visit.

If you answer differently, you can keep the process moving forward. The student has told you they’re interested in, or at least thinking about, making a campus visit. In your response back to them, I want you to confirm that this is in fact the case. You could say something like, “Are you thinking that a weekend visit to campus will work best for you?” If the student says yes, then your next step is to share the different weekend visit options your school offers and to ask what else they need to know/what else needs to happen before they will commit to a visit.

And if the student’s subsequent response tells you that they’ve all but decided on a date, go ahead and offer to help sign them up for that visit on the spot (if that’s possible) so that they know everything has been completed correctly. Worst case, schedule a time for a quick call with that student/family where you’ll walk them through the process of signing up.

Recognizing when to answer a question in the form of a question is an important skill that all college admission professionals need to learn. Understanding how to do that can be the difference between keeping the process moving forward and delaying it.

Let me also add that how you communicate your response (i.e. the tone and language you use) matters.

If you’ve got a question about today’s article, reply back and let’s talk about it.

Have a great week!

Yes, You Can Learn From Howard SternTuesday, June 12th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

No, that’s not a misprint. There are actually a number of things that you can learn from Howard Stern that will make you a better recruiter and/or a better leader.

The shock jock, as he’s known to many, has amassed tens of millions of listeners on Sirius XM satellite radio and has been deemed by some the most powerful interviewer in American broadcasting. Billy Joel even called his interview with Stern “probably the most astute and insightful interview” he’d done.

I listen to the Stern show a lot when I travel, and if you’ve never heard Howard interview a guest on his show, you don’t know what you’re missing. Pick your favorite celebrity or music star and type their name along with Howard’s into Google when you have a few extra minutes. Chances are he’s interviewed them at some point. His recent interviews with James Corden and Cardi B are particularly insightful and worth the listen.

Over the years I’ve noticed a few things that Howard does consistently during his interviews, each of which I want to talk with you about today. These are techniques that I would recommend you consider implementing (if you’re not already) during your conversations with prospective students and parents.

  • Eliminate any fear at the beginning. Howard starts off a lot of his interviews with small talk and a compliment for his guest. It’s low pressure and makes the other person immediately feel safe and comfortable. Similarly, when you talk with students, don’t immediately bombard them with all kinds of questions and a push to visit campus or complete your application. Worry more about putting them at ease and eliminating any fears they might have.
  • It’s not an interview it’s a conversation. If you remember one thing from today’s article I hope it’s this point. Don’t approach your conversations with students (at college fairs, school visits, campus visit events, etc) like it’s an interview. The goal as I’ve stated in numerous articles before is to get and keep their attention…to make a connection and have future conversations. Many of Stern’s guests rave about how fun and memorable their interviews with him were. Many have been back multiple times over the years. Would your students say the same thing about the phone calls and contacts they have with you? You’ll discover the answer when you try and connect a second time. Make your conversation more casual, and make it about them. Do that, and you’ll gain all kinds of valuable information and insights from the student or their parent.
  • Don’t interrupt. Just like it probably drives you nuts when other people don’t let you finish your thoughts and sentences, the same thing holds true for the students that you’re recruiting. I know it can be tempting to get so excited about something that you jump in and cut them off. Don’t do it. Stern always lets his guests finish telling a story or answering a question to the point where there’s often a second or two of dead air.
  • Have a list of effective questions and follow-up questions. Stern has become a master at asking specific questions that get his guests to talk more openly and freely about themselves than they typically do in public. His questions don’t just lead to answers, they lead to stories. It doesn’t take him long (and it won’t take you long either) to discover what motivates the other person or why something is or isn’t important in their mind. Howard also does a great job of latching on to a guest’s answers and digging deeper with follow up questions like “What’s going on there,” or “Help me understand that.” Context matters.
  • Don’t be afraid to go in a different direction midstream. Any time you ask a prospect or their parents a question that then leads to unexpected points of interest, don’t be afraid to change the direction of the conversation. At the same time be mindful of those tough subjects where digging too deep isn’t worth the risk.
  • Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself (or address your school’s negatives). Howard pokes fun at himself all the time. It makes him more genuine, and it reminds his guests that he’s human and makes mistakes just like them. Don’t be afraid to share a funny story about something silly or unintelligent that you’ve done. And don’t be afraid to address your school’s negatives either, whatever they may be. Every college has something. That transparency will separate you from your competitors who only talk about the positives. This generation of students (and their parents) is looking for colleges that are demonstrating honesty during the recruitment process.

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

Lastly, at the beginning of this article I mentioned leadership. All six of these points are applicable to you if you directly manage others in your office. Leadership isn’t just about giving direction. It’s about getting to know every single person you manage (their motivations, wants, needs, and fears) and figuring out what each of them needs from you so that they can achieve their own personal goals and the goals that you’ve set for them.

I hope you have an amazing day and week!

As always, reach out and connect with me on email, phone, or text if I can help you with something.

Ask Your Undecided Students These QuestionsTuesday, April 17th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Thanks for checking out this week’s newsletter. I’m sending good vibes your way as you finish putting together your school’s next class of new students.

Last week I received a bunch of emails from admissions counselors looking for advice on how they could move their undecided students to the “yes column,” or at least one step closer towards making those deposits.

In three different emails I was given the scenario of a student being “90-95% sure” or “pretty sure” that they were coming, but the student then told the admissions counselor in the same conversation that they were going to wait a little longer to make sure. My replies to each admissions counselor were the same. I explained the importance of immediately setting up a phone call with the student and asking a specific question about their uncertainty (ex. “Can you help me understand what’s preventing you from making your decision right now?”).

Keep in mind that at this point in the process it’s less about “selling” to your undecided students and more about asking the right questions that will get them to provide insight or answers to their decision making process and current mindset.

With that in mind, here are a handful of questions that have worked well with this group of students. You can ask them just like I’ve written them, or you can tweak them a little depending on the situation. And let me reiterate that if you want to talk about specific situations you’re dealing with, or you want to ask for context about any of the questions below, I’m happy to help you. Just reply back or click here to send me an email.

  • What does your decision making process look like?
  • What’s your timeline for making a decision?
  • What’s left on your to-do list before you make a decision?
  • What’s the biggest thing you’re scared of right now?
  • Is there anybody else besides your parents that you’re leaning on to help you?
  • What are your parents saying about making a decision?
  • Do you and your parents agree on which college is the best fit for you?
  • Have you and your parents talked about choosing a school that costs more?
  • Is your decision going to come down to which school gives you the biggest scholarship?
  • If you were going to tell me that you’ve picked a different college, what do you think the #1 reason would be?
  • What do you like the most about our campus and the atmosphere here?
  • Can you see yourself living here on campus?
  • What do you want to see us talk about next?
  • Are you feeling like you’re ready to commit to <School name>?

If you ask a question and the answer you get doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, ask them one of these follow-up questions:

  • What does that mean?
  • Can you help me understand that a little better?

If the student gives you a vanilla answer, and you want more context, go ahead and ask them WHY what they just told you is important to them.

You should also consider asking any question with a “because” in it. In our work with admission departments around the country, we’ve found that “because” is a powerful motivator for this generation of students.

One more thing – Whatever you do, don’t just run through a list of questions robotically. As you’re getting feedback from the student, be sure and add something of value to the conversation. Otherwise your conversation will come off as scripted, and it’s unlikely the student will truly “open up.”

After you ask one or more of these questions, let me know how it goes. Good luck!

P.S. It’s crazy how fast my newsletter community continues to grow! I can’t thank you enough for all the support. If you know somebody who could benefit from being a part of it but isn’t right now, have them send me a quick email to jeremy@dantudor.com that simply says “sign me up for your newsletter.”

Recruiting Reminders From the NCAA TournamentTuesday, March 20th, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

A historic upset. Check. Buzzer beaters. Check. A 98-year-old nun becoming famous. Check. And friends of mine tearing up their brackets and uttering some choice words after a weekend that could only be described as complete madness. Check, check, and check.

If you’re like most people, you probably found yourself glued to a TV at some point last week between Thursday and Sunday watching this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. I’m not going to lie. I spent almost the entire weekend with family and friends flipping back and forth between the four CBS/Turner channels.

While taking in all the action, some very important lessons and recruiting reminders for college admissions professionals surfaced. So, throughout the weekend I grabbed my MacBook Pro and jotted down a bunch of reminders just for you. Here they are:

Take the time to come up with better questions. So many sideline reporters are great at asking questions that produce the right answers. By “right,” I mean the correct answer that a smart, student-athlete or coach should give. Their answer won’t make any waves, will let them go on to the next question, and continue on until the end of the interview. This also describes many of the conversations that admissions professionals have with prospective students. If you don’t go deeper and think bigger with your questions you’re going to get a standard, vanilla answer. The problem with that is, you don’t really learn anything new about your prospect, and the end result is you aren’t able to move the process forward. I want you to ask questions that require extra thought, which then will produce insightful answers.

Lesser-known schools can and will beat bigger name brands. This happens every year in the NCAA tournament. Why? A big reason is a lot of the smaller schools have players on their team who had the opportunity to pick a well known, bigger name school during the recruiting process. The reasons why they didn’t vary, but when a coach (or in your case, you or your admissions colleagues) offer consistent, personalized messaging that creates connections and explains why your school is the smarter choice based on the student’s wants/needs, it won’t be an automatic loss when you go head to head with a bigger name school. Far from it.

The importance of social listening. The UMBC Athletics Twitter account had approximately 5,000 followers prior to Friday’s game against Virginia. 72 hours later after their historic upset, and a close loss in the second round, that number stands at just under 110,000. Social listening gives you the ability to take all those new conversations and followers and develop important insights and opportunities for engagement.

This generation values authenticity. A lot more people know who Zach Seidel is today. In case you’re not one of them, let me explain. Zach was in charge of the UMBC Athletics Twitter account during the NCAA tournament. Part of the reason their follower count spiked so much were Zach’s genuine, down to earth, and at times quite humorous tweets. There’s an important lesson for you here. Zach’s tweets weren’t just a play by play of UMBC’s two basketball games. He did an outstanding job of both informing (sharing facts about UMBC) and engaging. His tweets were consistently authentic (silly, funny, and snarky), and that helped bring national attention to his school. Make sure your social media posts aren’t just a repeat of things on your website, and take the time to engage authentically with your followers.

Capitalize on big moments. In keeping with UMBC as our case study, from the end of their game last Friday to Sunday morning, the school’s bookstore store received about 3,500 online orders – almost as many as the total for the entire previous year. The school is also in the process of trying to trademark “Retrievers,” “Retriever Nation,” and “16 over 1” because they want to keep the conversation going long after the tournament ends. Leveraging attention and emotions immediately after any successful event is vital. Create powerful content (storytelling) with the help of videos and photos that is relevant, helpful, shareable, and drives action. You could also offer discounted or free merchandise to show your appreciation.

People are your secret weapon. If you don’t work at Loyola University Chicago, you probably didn’t know who Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt was before last Thursday. She’s the 98-year-old team chaplain who has since become one of the faces of this year’s NCAA tournament. Long after this year’s tournament ends many of us won’t remember the score of a particular game, but we will remember people like Sister Jean because of her spirit and passion for her team…plus it’s hard to forget a 98-year-old nun. On your campus you have one or more people like Sister Jean (aka micro influencers) who are memorable and can help you make emotional connections with prospective students and families. It could be current students, faculty, staff, or your alumni. It might even be someone who lives in your surrounding campus community. Make it a priority to find those people and tell their unique stories. This generation of students continues to make it clear that when a college representative can help them make a connection it’s extremely beneficial when it comes time to make their final decision.

Consistency matters from start to finish. Cincinnati led Nevada by 22 points with 11:37 remaining in the game. Then the Bearcats got comfortable with their big lead, and Nevada proceeded to outscore them 32 to 8, winning the game by two points. Consistency from start to finish is so important when it comes to winning in the NCAA tournament. Very few leads are truly safe. Similarly, just because your deposits are up or you’re ahead of your projections doesn’t mean the work stops or slows down with that group of students. Develop a melt plan that involves consistent communication to your committed students (and their parents) and continues to demand interaction until the day they arrive on your campus.

If you’ve got a question about this article, let me again remind you that I’m only an email, call, or text away. You can email me here or connect with me on Twitter at @CoachTiers

If You’re Getting the Silent TreatmentTuesday, February 13th, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

You’re not alone.

Winter seems to be the popular time of year for radio silence from students, namely inquiries and admitted (but undecided) students.

A lot of admissions counselors tell me their state of mind when this happens is a combination of frustration and urgency. And when an admissions counselor is frustrated and feeling the pressure to move students to the next stage of the process, I’ve found that bad things often follow. I’m talking about things like becoming way pushier during conversations or questioning their own ability to recruit students successfully.

Today I’m going to take you inside your student’s head and give you an idea of what they might be thinking or feeling. There’s a reason for the silence, and it’s important that you understand the “why” behind it. That understanding will give you the road map you’ll need to continue or reignite effective communication. I’ll also give you some strategies on how to do that as well.

Let’s start with five common things that could be behind your prospect’s silence:

  1. You’re school isn’t a good fit and they just don’t want to tell you. As you probably guessed, this is one of the most common reasons for getting the silent treatment. Why don’t they just tell you that they’re not interested, right? If only it were that simple. This generation of students has a very hard time telling others “no.” Our research says that they’re afraid you’ll get mad at them. Right or wrong, this is who you’re dealing with. By being silent, they hope you just fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you.
  2. They aren’t sure how serious your school is about them so they don’t want to invest extra time with you. They know they’re not the only student being recruited by your college, and because so many recruitment emails and letters continue to look and sound the same, they struggle to differentiate who’s more serious about them. Combine that with an inconsistent flow of messages (i.e. send a lot early, then slow down, then send a lot more around financial aid season), and you’ve got students who are completely confused and ultimately default to just ignoring it all.
  3. They’re interested, but they don’t know what to do or say next (and most are afraid to ask). This usually results from admissions counselors who make their conversations and messages all about their school and taking action, sprinkled in with some, “How did your day go?” phone calls or text messages that end up going nowhere. No matter what stage a student is at in their college search, they’re always looking for the next step, and you need to consistently give it to them.
  4. They don’t like talking on the phone. It could be as simple as that. Make sure you’re communicating with your students they way they want to be communicated with.
  5. They’re busy and overwhelmed. When Dan (Tudor) and I look at our research data, both with prospective students and student-athletes, the two most common reasons they give us for not being prompt in returning a school’s call is that they’re busy with high school life as well as being overwhelmed with the college search process in general. Many students also aren’t sure what they should (and shouldn’t) say during a conversation with an admissions counselor or student caller. How are you easing their stress level and making this process easier on them?

Alright, I’ve given you some of the “why.” Now let’s discuss some things you can do to regenerate the conversation. By the way, keep in mind that at this point (mid-February) you’re going to have to pick up the phone and make a lot of calls. Like it or not, that’s going to be your best option in almost every case.

  • Stop acting like a robot on the phone. Students can quickly tell when a call from a counselor or a student caller is scripted. It drives them nuts, and they lose focus fast. You can still focus on the same talking points, but do it in a natural, conversational tone so it doesn’t feel forced and robotic.
  • Take responsibility for your inconsistent communication. If you and/or your school have been inconsistent, ease their concerns/fears right away by apologizing and taking ownership (even if it’s not completely your fault). Tell them you could have done a better job making this process more about them, and ask them if your school is still under consideration. If it is, reassure them that going forward you will improve, and you could even go so far as to ask them for feedback on what you can do to be a helpful partner.
  • Give them an “out”. Specifically with “cold inquiries,” in a voicemail or email (or even if they answer the phone), ask them if they’re okay with telling you “no” if they get to a point where they feel your school isn’t the right fit. Counselors who have done this tell me one of two things typically happens – the student calls back and says that they’ve chosen another college, or they’ll say they haven’t made a decision yet and are struggling with some aspect of the process. Either way, you get the information you’re looking for, and you now know the truth about what’s going on.
  • Tell them they’re a priority. It’s a couple simple words that make a huge impact! If you’re talking to an admitted (but undecided) student, remind them at some point that they are a priority.
  • Send the student a handwritten note. A personalized gesture like this not only increases your likeability, but it also signals that the student is a priority and encourages them to take your call the next time you reach out.
  • Call the student’s parent(s). If you’ve left multiple voicemails and/or reached out through multiple channels, call the parent(s) with the goal of discovering if a decision has been made. And if it hasn’t, your goal now should be to find out where they’re at in the process, and come up with something you can do to help them.
  • Ask them an effective question. For example, “What do you see as the next step in your process?” or “What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now when it comes to picking a college?” or “Why did we end up being one of the schools that made your final cut?” Keep in the mind that the question you’re asking needs to align with the stage they’re at in the process.

I’ll end by reiterating a very important point! Once a conversation has been renewed or started, please make sure there’s a plan moving forward for how you will consistently communicate with that student/family the rest of the way. Without that, you’ll quickly be back to square one again.

If you have a specific question, problem, or concern…or maybe you’re just looking for reassurance that the approach you’re considering is a good strategy, I’m here to listen if you’re willing to share. The next step is to call, text, or email me at jeremy@dantudor.com. You’ll get a response within 24 hours (probably less). That’s my promise to you.

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