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Ask Your Undecided Admitted Students ThisTuesday, February 28th, 2017

ncrc3By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

The question came from a second year admissions counselor who had attended my presentation at IACAC Congress earlier in the day.

He found me during the conference social and asked if he could vent about something that was really frustrating him.

“I have all these admitted students and I’ve worked really hard to stay in touch with them but every time I check in and see what’s going on they don’t say much…I’m getting tired of waiting for them to make a decision or tell me they’re going somewhere else.”

My reply to him: “Have you asked each of them when they’re going to make their decision?”

He paused for about 3 seconds before telling me, “No.”

Are you facing a similar situation with admitted students right now?

All that constant wondering isn’t much fun, is it?

Here’s the good news – there’s no need to wonder about it. In fact, there’s a simple question that can help erase all the mystery when it comes to the decision making process of a prospective student:

“How will you make your final decision?”

I want you to ask it just like it’s written. You can put that question in a brief email you send (make sure you come up with the right subject line), or you can ask it during a phone call. Just make sure you ask it…don’t wait any longer! And if you’re saying to yourself, “Jeremy, I already asked that question (or a version of it) earlier in the process,” that’s fine, but I want you to ask it again. While you should definitely ask this question up front, you and I both know that this generation changes their mind all the time.

After the student answers, here’s an important follow-up question to ask:

“And then what?”

As the student begins to tell you more, I want you to ask, “And then what?” again. And on and on until you finally get a handle on the real source of their decision. Our clients, as well as others I’ve recommended take this approach, have found it reveals the undecided student’s current mindset, and it draws out vital information at this stage in the process (ex. I picked another school and was afraid to tell you; I’m waiting on other financial aid packages; I have a lingering concern or objection that I was afraid to bring up).

If you’re looking for even more reassurance that asking a question like this can pay off, I asked the same admission counselor that I mentioned earlier to put it to the test with some of his undecided admits.

The result? He got the answers and information he was looking for from every single student whom he asked how they would be making their final decision. He now had a better feel of what to do next with each of those students…one of whom told him he had picked another school.

I can’t stress how important this short series of questions is. It’s a key question for admissions professionals to ask when they want to understand how a decision is going to be made. And it’s a great question to ask if you’re constantly finding yourself wondering what your prospects are thinking.

If you have a particular question, problem, hurdle, or recruitment issue that you want advice on and are afraid to ask your colleagues, don’t hesitate to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com. You’ll get a response from me within 24 hours, guaranteed!

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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on how to get prospective students to open up and why it’s such a challenge.

Let me start by giving you the good news – If you take the information I’m about to give you today and apply it consistently, it’s no longer going to be such a monumental challenge!

There are three big reasons why students in this next recruiting class either haven’t engaged with you yet or are giving you those standard one and two word answers.

  • Your content is boring and looks and sounds like every other college/university
  • They don’t know you yet (not your school, I mean you personally), so a connection and comfort level hasn’t been established, and oh by the way, they’re scared of saying something wrong
  • You’re not asking the right questions

I’ve given you strategies and ideas on how to make your content more appealing and how to address fear and create a level of comfort with your prospects before. If you missed those articles or need a refresher, I encourage you to connect with me after you finish reading the rest of this article.

Bullet point number three is what I want to focus on with you today.

A huge part of successful recruiting revolves around being the admissions counselor that can get your prospects to communicate more with you than they do your competition…not just one time but consistently throughout the recruitment process. That only happens when a comfort level has been created, and you consistently ask effective questions.

If you’re just sitting back convinced that your prospects will ask you questions when they have them because you’ve told them something like, “I’m here to help, call or email me if you have any questions”, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

One of the key pieces of data that we’ve uncovered from our focus group research with colleges and universities across the nation is that most of today’s teenage recruits don’t know what they’re supposed to ask you or how they’re supposed to ask it. Without your help they may never take initiative and talk to you and really get a feel for whether your school is the “right fit” for them.

Effective questions are the core of every good recruiting effort! They get you an explanation of something, and your prospect will open up and provide you with more insights and useful information that leads to further conversation and aids you in their recruitment.

So if that’s the case, why don’t many of you ask effective questions? I think it’s because you’re either worried about being too pushy, or you’re too busy selling your school with facts and figures.

If you want me to help you grow immediately in this area, there are 4 things I need you to self evaluate first:

  1. You need to figure out WHAT questions to ask. Believe it or not, there are bad questions you can ask. If you don’t know what to ask prospects and parents then all you’re doing is relationship building, which is very important, but it can also prevent you from helping keep the process moving forward.
  2. You need to define WHY you’re asking a particular question. Are you doing it to get actual, useable information, or to help your prospect become comfortable talking to you?
  3. HOW do you ask a question? Some are better over the phone or in-person (ones that are more personal and require more detail). Others can be done in an email, on social media or via text (more conversational type questions).
  4. WHEN do you ask a particular question? There are definitely right times and wrong times. You need to be intelligent in terms of the way you bring up topics. For example, if in the first couple of letters or emails you ask a new prospect to start the application process or sign up for a campus visit, our research says that’s way too soon. Most students are not ready to take that big a step yet.

Always keep those 4 things in mind when you develop a question.

Now, I’m guessing you might be interested in some effective questions that you can use in the early stages of the recruitment process. Below is a handful that we’ve developed that our clients continue to tell us work really well.

But first let me add one more thing. Your initial questions if you’re trying to establish trust and a level of comfort with your prospect should be 100% about them. The questions shouldn’t be too broad and need to be easy enough for the student to answer to get them comfortable talking to you.  We’ve found those questions should not be about declaring who their top school is, or anything that pressures them to give you early information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the college search process, what their perfect college looks like, and other questions that focus on them. You might even try to make them laugh (or at least smile). Humor is a great icebreaker.

  • What prompted you to start looking at our school? OR if you’re reaching out to the student first you could ask, “What would you need to see from us to become seriously interested in our school?”
  • What are your deal-breakers or things that your college has to have?
  • Walk me through how you’re going to be making your college decision.
  • How do you see yourself using your parents to help you figure out which college is right for you?
  • What’s the most confusing part about this process right now?
  • What scares you the most about the college search process?
  • As we begin to talk more, will you be okay with telling me no if our school doesn’t seem like the right fit?
  • Is there something I need to answer for you before you’ll consider coming to campus for a visit? OR start filling out our application?

If you want a further explanation about one or more of these questions, simply click this link and email me (unless you’ll be at NACAC this week, in which case you should just stop by Booth 853 and we can talk in person).

Remember, the better the questions, the greater the chance you have of connecting with a prospect, getting a back-and-forth conversation started, understanding his or her mindset, and ultimately coming up with a strategy to successfully recruit them. Make those questions thought provoking and make them original.

Good luck, have fun with it, and make it a great recruiting week!

What to Do Next After Your First Contacts Are DoneTuesday, August 9th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

What’s your plan now?

Many admissions departments around the country have officially started the recruitment process with the next class of prospective students. The first emails and letters have been sent, and the first phone calls have been made.

If you’ve been asking the right kinds of questions, and you’re trying to understand your prospects’ individual wants and needs and not just selling your school, maybe you’ve even had some of them engage with you and begin the application process. If you’re shaking your head no, keep in mind it doesn’t have to be that way. We can help.

Regardless, you’re now faced with the daunting two-word question that worries even a veteran, confident college admissions recruiter: “What’s next?”

The answer to that question is critical. In fact, it will undoubtedly determine what kind of results you have in the months to come.

So, you tell me. What do you think should come next? It would be great if there was a simple, one-size-fits-all answer to that question…but there’s not. The answer will vary significantly from school to school.

Having said that, today I want to outline a few successful approaches that we’ve seen work on a consistent basis the past couple of years for our clients. As you read through each of these strategies and key questions, I want you to ask yourself how you can adapt them to your school and your specific situation:

How are you going to start to establish that your school is the smart choice? Our research has uncovered a surprising trend with this generation of students in terms of how they actually make their final decision – They have to justify it logically. It’s true that they can emotionally gravitate towards a college throughout the process, however, at some point in the later stages, either they or their parents start asking, “Is this a smart decision.” What you do with your communication between now and that final decision will determine if your school ends up being seriously considered.

How are you going to start to establish that your school is the emotional choice? Every year in the early stages of the recruitment process we see prospects gravitate to an admissions counselor and college that creates an emotional tie with them. It’s important to have a strategy that will help create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples both Dan (Tudor) and I use when we present our On-Campus Workshops is Starbucks. They have mastered the art of creating and managing a feeling of comfort when you walk into any one of their thousands of stores nationwide. The color on the walls, the music that’s playing, and the inviting, comfy furniture…it’s all done specifically to create a feeling of warmth and comfort. What’s your plan to create the right feeling for your prospects now that the initial contact message is in their hands? If you and your admissions colleagues don’t have one, you’re introducing random results into the recruiting process.

You MUST engage the parents early. Our research also finds that most parents are both polite and anxious as you begin to contact their child. On the one hand, they don’t want to interfere with the process, and on the other hand, their urge is to step in and play a part as soon as possible. A big reason behind their urge to be involved is a result of their child asking them to. While the majority of your competition will ignore the parents as long as possible, and fail to do basic things like getting their prospects’ parents names and cell phone information, I want to encourage you to do the opposite. Establish early contact with the parents of this next class of recruits and work to establish that same emotional connection with them. Call them, email them, ask them questions, and engage them. If you do, what you’ll find is they’re happy to provide you with useful information, and more importantly, they will look at you as the admissions counselor that respects their opinion and input and is treating them as a valued partner in the recruiting process of their son or daughter. Do you have a plan to communicate with your prospects’ parents at the beginning? If not, you’re missing a BIG opportunity to create some separation from other colleges.

Work to establish a mutually agreed upon timeline for making their decision. Do everything you can as early as possible to find out when your prospect (and his or her parents) sees a final decision being made. You don’t have to get an exact date. A general time of the year is fine. By simply asking a few effective questions about the prospect’s timeline not only will you find out how long you probably have to recruit that prospect, but you’ll also gain valuable insight into how they’ll be making their decision. Most counselors we observe wait to have this conversation until after a prospect applies for admission. Don’t let that be you. If you’re willing to ask a few critical questions early in the process, you’ll be able to strategically design a messaging plan that earns your prospect’s interest.

Are you establishing control of the process? Are you going to control the recruiting conversation and the decision making process, or will you relinquish that role to them? What I’m suggesting is that you should establish yourself as the counselor that will be guiding them through the recruitment process rather than telling yourself that your job is to give them your school’s information, answer questions, and then stand by and wait politely for their decision. A large part of your job is to guide your prospect’s decision from start to finish. Not trick, not force, but guide. You do that through effective questioning, establishing logical “next steps” throughout the process, and continually providing them with smart reasons why your institution is the right choice. How do you plan to establish that role as the leader of the conversation and their trusted guide?

After reading these strategies and questions, some of you may discover that you need to make some major changes in how you recruit during the early stages of the process. I’m sure some of you other readers may not need to adjust your approach at all.

If you had the feeling with this last class that you were really were ineffective when it came to carrying on a logical, consistent conversation with your prospects and their parents, now is the time to act.

Our Tudor Collegiate Strategies team offers one-on-one help with formulating a research-based approach to communicating with recruits. It will save you time and eliminate a lot of frustrations. The next step is to email me at jeremy@dantudor.com

What Are You Doing About Your Prospect’s Fear?Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Yesterday my daughter had a dentist appointment. Nothing major, just one of those twice a year check-ups.

During breakfast she said, “Daddy, the one thing that’s scary about the dentist is the sucking thing they put in your mouth.” The technical term for that long dental suction tool is a saliva ejector (I Googled it because I was curious).

On the drive over, and while we waited for her to be called back, again she mentioned the “sucking thing” and her fear of it. I calmed her down by telling her that Daddy has the same thing put in his mouth every time he goes to the dentist for a check-up.

Do you get nervous if you have to give a speech or presentation? Do you hate heights? How about spiders and insects? Or maybe, like my daughter, you dislike those trips to the dentist.

It’s all about our fear of fear.

Now let’s apply this to prospective students, who in many cases, have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.

If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.

They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear.  They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong.  Sounds crazy, right? Like it or not, that’s who you’re recruiting.

Your job, if you’re going to be a dominant recruiter and truly be your prospects’ “go to person”, is to find out what scares them and address it.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for our clients around the country.

  • Focus on their feeling of being fearful.  It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling your school by talking about last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle.  Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
  • Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit? Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation!  It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the college search process?” This is an extremely effective question early in the recruiting cycle. If you don’t ask it, you’re missing out on a BIG opportunity to both solve a problem and develop trust.
  • Tell them what you think they’re thinking.  Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about and see if they agree with you or not.  It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking.  Is it confusing? Yes.  Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.

These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.

Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruitment process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust and in turn be way ahead of the competition who doesn’t believe this is important or doesn’t know how to address fear.

FREE HELP! Yes you read that correctly. If you’ve got a question about recruiting, leadership or anything else that can help you do your job more effectively, simply send me an email or call me directly at 612-386-0854.

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.    

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!

What the Silent Treatment From Recruits Might MeanTuesday, February 23rd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Here at Tudor Collegiate Strategies we encourage our clients to bring us special projects. One of the things that we’ve helped multiple admissions departments with recently is developing a strategy to connect with “cold inquiries.”

Winter is one of the most difficult times of year to maintain, or continue, good communication not only with inquiries but also, in some cases, admitted students. I could be describing some of your seniors who are done with the initial excitement that came in those first few conversations or communications with you. Or, I might be talking about students that you’ve admitted, but haven’t come to their final decisions yet.

In either scenario, and those are just two quick examples, the immediate reaction for many counselors is a combination of frustration and urgency…and when a college recruiter is frustrated and feeling pressured when engaged in ongoing communication with their recruits, bad things often follow. I’m talking about things like becoming pushy, stopping communication all-together, or asking specific questions way too soon in an effort to move that student to the next stage of the funnel.

All of these actions could be devastating, not only in your efforts to continue effective communication, but also in your efforts to eventually win over that student and have them agree that your school is the “smart, right fit” for them.

Today I want to try and take you inside your prospect’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 some of those motivations that will lead them to stop communication with you.  That understanding will give you the roadmap you’ll need to continue, or reignite, effective communication with your recruit.

Here are five of the most common factors that could be behind your prospect’s silence:

  1. They’re not interested any longer, and they just don’t want to tell you. No surprise here. As you probably already know, this is one of the most common reasons for non-communication. Why don’t they just tell you that they’ve lost interest, right? If only it were that simple. Bottom line: young people have a hard time telling others NO.  Our research also 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 sort of fade away so that they don’t have to have that uncomfortable conversation with you.  I want you to confront it and address it. That’s your next move.
  2. They wonder just how serious about them you are, so they aren’t sure they want to invest time into you. How could this happen? The most common answer we hear when we conduct focus groups on the topic is simple: Inconsistency in the story that is told, primarily through letters and emails. Colleges that send a few things at the start of the recruiting process, and then slowly trail off into inconsistent messaging, almost guarantee this result.  How can you expect your recruits to have a reason to keep communicating with you when you haven’t done the same with them?
  3. They’re interested, but they don’t know what to do or say next. This usually results from counselors who make their conversations and messages all about giving information about their school sprinkled in with, “How did your day go?” phone calls that end up going nowhere. No matter what stage your recruit is at, they’re always looking for the next step. For example, when it comes to your admitted students, they might be ready to pull the trigger and deposit to your school…if you simply ask for their commitment.  Think about it – If you’ve built trust, understood their needs, talked to their parents, gained agreement from them (“little yeses”) along the way and answered any objections, then the next logical step is to ask for their commitment. If they’re not ready, they’ll tell you.  If they are ready, you just got the win. So, if you’re noticing increasing silence, it could be because they’re stuck and don’t know what to do or say next.  You need to lead the way!
  4. They don’t like talking on the phone. You read that right…it could be as simple as that.  If you’ve moved through the communication process and are at the point where you think talking on the phone is the most personal, most effective method of communication, make sure your prospect feels the same way.  Most recruits don’t like speaking on the phone but just won’t tell you (again, because they don’t want to offend you and they’re worried you’ll get mad at them). Make sure you’re on the same page, and if you find that phone calls just aren’t working, then revert back to email or consider texting in an effort to get some kind of conversation going again.
  5. They’re busy and overwhelmed. When we look at our research data, both with 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.  They wonder how they’re going to find time to talk to all those colleges, and even more so, what on earth they’re going to say. There is no magic fix to this one. However, I want you to know that your recruit might be very interested in what your school offers them. They just might be a little overwhelmed at this point and feel like they don’t know what to say next (or if they’ll have time to say it).

Silence from your recruits is a common problem, and I would advise you to expect it at some point from the vast majority of your inquiries, prospects and admits. What you do with that silence is up to you. You need to seek out why they’re being silent and then effectively address any concerns.

DID YOU KNOW that we don’t charge anything extra for special projects if you’re a client?

We can give you an Admissions Recruiting Advantage right now! Simply email me jeremytiers@gmail.com for more information. No pressure, just information.

Are You Asking Effective Questions After the Campus Visit?Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

One of the biggest questions that admissions directors approach me with is how to deliver a campus visit that exceeds a prospective student’s expectations. The reason for that is simple. A visit to your campus, and more specifically the “feel” of your campus, is the most important factor for just about every student on your list when it comes to making their college choice. Our ongoing focus group research on college and university campuses around the country confirms that statement time and time again.

Today, I want to focus on a part of the campus visit that can be extremely valuable for admissions counselors – asking effective questions after a student visits campus.

Most admissions counselors that we’ve worked with tend to slip into the mindset that once they’ve had a prospective student on campus all of the student’s questions have been answered. Wrong.

What you say to them in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can give you some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruitment process.

In most cases, your recruit is ready to reveal an entirely new set of information and feelings to you following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them.

Here are 4 key questions we would recommend based on the focus group research we’ve compiled with this generation of students. I encourage you to use these going forward if you want to gain a deeper understanding of exactly what your prospect’s mindset is after they leave your campus.

“Walk me through what you see happening next for you in the college search process.” Our work with admissions departments indicates that in many cases once your prospect has visited your campus their internal agenda changes. What they thought they were going to do and how they felt before the visit has probably now changed. Smart recruiters should want that information so that they can adjust their recruiting strategy accordingly.

“Can you tell me a couple of big things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve been here.” The temptation for some counselors will be to let the student take a pass when they say something like, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.” Don’t give in. Have them define what they would change about your campus now that they’ve seen it in person…even if they think it’s something small and meaningless. We’ve seen recruits use small discomforts at the end to justify why they aren’t going to choose your institution. It’s important that you have a firm grasp on what those are and then work to change your recruit’s mind through consistent recruiting communication.

“What did your parents say they liked about our campus and the visit?” The parents, as you know if you read this newsletter regularly or have had us on your campus to explain the details of a family’s decision making process, are key. You absolutely need to understand what they liked, or didn’t like, about the visit. Then you can develop a strategy as to how you’re going to recruit the parents during the late stages of the process.

“What other colleges are you talking with seriously at this point?” Don’t assume you know even if they told you a couple of weeks ago prior to their visit. Recruiting can change daily as does the mindset of a typical teenager. I want you to double check because many times we find that the list has changed.

Each of those four questions is important. Asking them after the campus visit will allow you to gain some incredible insights into how your prospects and parents are viewing, not only your institution, but for that matter you. Based on their answers, you can develop more effective questions that will help you determine what your next set of actions needs to be.

If you don’t ask any questions after the campus visit, you risk wasting all of your hard work up to that point. Oh, and if your school already does a post-visit survey that’s great, but I would still recommend you ask your recruits these kinds of effective questions. When you ask them personally it will help you build trust and continue to cultivate that all-important recruiting relationship.

WANT EVEN MORE? If you’d like some effective questions I’d recommend that you ask the parents after the campus visit, simply email me: jeremy@dantudor.com

5 Recruiting Lessons for Admissions Courtesy of Johnny SheltonMonday, June 1st, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you didn’t watch the season premier of America’s Got Talent last week you probably have no idea who Johnny Shelton is.

Hopefully after this article you’ll remember him for what his story and stand out performance can teach you as you strive to have more meaningful conversations and develop a deeper connection with your prospects.

Shelton is a 25-year old singer/songwriter. In a segment shown by AGT before he went on stage, Shelton shared his story about his son who lost his battle with cancer on his fifth birthday.

When Shelton came out on stage, he explained that he wrote the song he was about to perform as a tribute to his son and uses it as his special way of communicating with his child. Once the crowd learned the entire backstory, it quickly became clear that everyone felt a connection to Johnny Shelton.

His performance was nothing short of remarkable. Emotions ran very high. The next day his Facebook page was filled with supportive comments from people around the country. No doubt about it, Johnny Shelton had captured the hearts of many.

In the midst of watching his performance some very important recruiting lessons for college admissions surfaced. Since my previous “lessons from my daughter’s soccer practice” article is one of the most read on the admissions portion of our website, I thought it would be good to write a follow-up article that another real life lesson can teach you about effective recruiting:

  • Capturing your audience’s emotions. Shelton delivered a moving performance that inspired the AGT judges and brought members of the audience to tears. Judge Heidi Klum said his song, “made me very emotional.” Your goal should be to create those same feelings and emotions in the hearts and minds of your prospects. Our national study of how recruits make their final decision revealed one solid fact that every college admissions professional should be aware of when it comes to developing a winning recruiting strategy – Your prospects are trusting their feelings as they make their decision about your college or university. Those are the feelings you create through the various methods of recruiting communication as well as the feelings they get when they visit your campus.
  • Everyone talks about the “good.” Don’t be afraid to talk about the “bad.” Admissions counselors who only talk about the positives associated with their school are missing the boat. It would be great if your prospects never had an objection to your school…but who are we kidding. Johnny Shelton could have just come out and sang his song. Instead he didn’t shy away from talking about a very difficult time in his life. This generation of students (and their parents) are looking for someone that can demonstrate honesty during the recruitment process. As we’ve said in the past, it’s good to show your school’s “cracks” to your prospects. Think of it this way. If you try and present the “perfect” college situation for your recruit in everything you show and tell them, you likely run the risk of making the prospect question whether they are getting the real story from you.  In other words, it’s best to show them your “cracks” (the bad) before a competitor paints that picture.
  • Passion wins. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter, you know that I think this 7-letter word is the most underrated tool you have at your disposal. Shelton received a standing ovation from the crowd and the judges, thanks in large part to a very passionate performance. If you prove you’re a passionate recruiter who sincerely cares and takes the time to understand the wants and needs of your prospects, you’ll come out victorious more often than not.  This is especially true when the final decision is a close race.
  • Great recruiters understand the importance of storytelling. The lyrics of Johnny Shelton’s song told the heartbreaking story about his son. Afterwards, judge Howie Mandel said, “I’m speechless when you told us your story.” Effective stories are essential to the recruiting process. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not telling you to make up something that’s untrue or embellish the prestige of your school so you can gain a prospect’s commitment. What I want you to do is give your prospects something they can connect with when it comes to what your institution is all about. Your recruiting materials, phone calls, and even campus visits have to tell a “story” that you want them to buy into. Are you doing that right now?
  • Go ahead and be gutsy. It took a lot of guts for Johnny Shelton to come on national television and perform a song as personal as one about losing a child. It also takes some guts for an admissions counselor to ask their prospect an effective question like, “Right now, where can you picture yourself going to college next year?” Some of you won’t feel comfortable being so forward, but this effective question can yield a gold mine of information when asked correctly. It’s important to note that you’re not asking them to make a decision on the spot but rather what their thoughts are right now in terms of where they can picture themselves attending college next year. There’s a big difference.

Remember these five lessons that I’ve laid out as you develop your recruiting plan for this next class of prospects.  They will pay dividends.

Want to speak further about these or other valuable recruiting lessons?  Email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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