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Admissions Newsletter Survey ResultsTuesday, December 4th, 2018

A couple of weeks ago I asked you to answer two very important questions.

Q1: What one quality do you value the most in a leader?

Q2: What one piece of advice would you give a new admissions professional or tell your past self?

The survey was 100% anonymous, and I think the feedback will be invaluable for a lot of readers as well as myself. Regardless of your current title or years of experience in college admissions, you’re going to want to read these answers. My hope is they will be what pushes someone to make a major change, or what helps them take a major step forward in their career.

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

If you have any questions about this survey you can contact me directly at: jeremy@dantudor.com

 

Q1. What ONE QUALITY do you value the most in a leader?

1 Compassion– cares about me as a person
2 Cool-headed.
3 Equipping – preparing your people and then allowing them to do what you have equipped them to do. No need to micromanage, but let them bring their unique gifts to the role you have given them and prepared them for.
4 Willingness to have you grow
5 communication
6 Being in the trenches with me.
7 Motivational
8 Non micro-manager. The ability to let me do my work, yet provide input when needed.
9 Communication and compassion. I know you only listed 1 but I feel as though these two go hand in hand. A leader who can articulate what they want but being able to compassionately article this is a skill not many have. This is a skill that will help team members run through a wall or run away. By being able to be compassionate and understand the personal traits of a team, one can clearly communicate the goals of the project/overall goal.
10 Honesty
11

 

Clear vision
12 Transparency
13 Honesty
14 I value a leader who allows their staff do complete their work and balance their home-life with work-life. There’s nothing worse than a slave driver who expects counselors to be all work, all the time. Holding a team accountable doesn’t have to come at the expense of a team’s happiness or sanity.
15 The ability to listen
16 Respect
17 Transparency
18 Honesty
19 passion – people will follow with excitement. passion for why we do what we do will affect how we do it.
 

20

The ability to admit when they are wrong (i.e. ability to be humble and vulnerable…), yet maintain their strength and dignity.
21 SUPPORT
22 Thoughtfulness-in thinking through new ideas before responding, in deciding how to present a new idea, in their care and keeping of their direct reports, and in how they treat all others.
23 Authenticity
24 The ability to get their hands dirty. If they ask me to do something, I don’t necessarily expect them to do it, but if they are willing to give a campus tour in the freezing cold and put themselves my shoes I really respect that.
25 Honesty – regardless of the situation, be honest and straightforward in address any issue you face.
26 Humility
27 inteGRITy: courageously holds to their strong principles & character (my work around for giving my top two qualities in one 🙂
28 Appreciation…knowing and being acknowledged that the effort and work you put in to be successful is appreciated and valued by your supervisor/leader.
29 Honest communication
30 Consistency
31 Kindness
32 Willingness to roll up his/her sleeves and adequately contribute to the boring but necessary work alongside his/her subordinates.
33 Courage.   The courage to trust your instincts, fight for what needs to be done in the office, and the courage to allow the employees to work smart.
34 Mentor. A great admissions leader is able to help their staff achieve their professional goals and mentor the next generation of admissions leaders.
35 Vulnerability
36 Transparency
37 Trust
38 Direction. I want to know what way our department is going. The goals and objectives. Our mission of who we are. Need a leader that has a clear direction and always refers to it.
39 Communication
40 Transparency
 

 

41

The one quality that I value the most in a leader is the quality to take charge and get things done when things need to be done. That can mean taking care of unnecessary drama in the workplace or helping to motivate the team to meet a weekly goal.
42 Honesty/integrity
43 sense of humor
44 I think the best leaders know how to collaborate in such a way that values people and their opinions while still being able to make the hard decisions when it is not the most popular.
45 Vision
46 Integrity
47 I value someone who has a servant mindset and is willing to listen, encourage and lead from behind rather than in front.
48 Availability – being available to the team for support and guidance.
49 A leader has to make his/her team feel safe and supported so they can take risks and make choices that allow for creative problem solving. If support doesn’t come from leadership, the work place is stunted from the get-go.
50 Confidence
51 Candid.
52 The quality I value most in a leader is the ability to clearly and coherently define the vision and how each individual fits into that vision.
53 I’ve found a strong leader shoulders the pressure put on our office and motivates us in ways so we do not always feel that pressure. Another strong quality if communication.

 

Q2. What ONE PIECE OF ADVICE would you give a new college admissions professional or tell your past self?

1 There is a LOT to take in as a first year counselor; don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions
2 You are the expert.
3 Establish a work life balance early on
4 When you focus on doing your job you don’t have to worry about acing one task… your consistent work ethic is more appreciated.
5 Call and ask questions that allow you to KNOW the student, their goals, fears, and expectations.
6 You can do everything right and still lose a student to another school. That’s okay. Don’t take it personally.
7 Take time for mini (not many) breaks throughout the day. At the end of the day, be satisfied with your work efforts.   We all live in a 24 hour day, and we need to balance our work load, as well as create a time to cease work and live a home life.
8 Do not wait! Jump in and explore. Find a mentor and jump into your local affiliates. This will help you learn more about the community you are enrolling in. Do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone either. This could be by either traveling for recruitment or presenting at a local conference. Do it!
9 Be patient.   Rome was not built in a day so don’t expect to know everything about admissions when you start. It takes a good year to understand this crazy line of work!
10 Don’t be afraid to work harder than your peers.
11 Don’t assume you know everything! Be open to learning.
12 Don’t forget to take care of yourself and make your wellness a priority. It’s like the oxygen masks on airplanes…put the oxygen mask on yourself before you   help someone else. You can’t adequately help someone else if you are struggling to breathe.
13 Stay on top of work and don’t let it build up. Letting your workload build to a point where it controls your life is the kiss of death. Stay up on work even if it means extra-time in the office now and then. Admissions isn’t a 9-5 job or always just 40 hour weeks. If you try to operate that way, it will build up and you’ll be working 50, 60 or 70+ hours a week to catch up. You will resent that and won’t last in the profession if it happens.
14 The importance of networking
15 ASK QUESTIONS, no matter how obvious you may think the answer “should” be
16 A student may not always be the right fit for YOUR institution. But you will always feel good as a professional if you help them find the right fit, even if it’s not your school.
 

17

 

To immediately get to know your IT person and dive into the data before forming any plan or goal.

18 be a builder – build relationships across so many channels, students, families, academics, athletics, community, high school leaders,
 

19

View your job as a “professional life-changer.” What you say DOES matter in the futures of each and every student you meet. You are not the important person in the whole process…the STUDENT is the most important person and should be the center of your focus.   Referring a student to another college can be just as important and significant as recruiting them to yours. There has to be a fit. It is all about the student and his/her needs. Not yours.
20 self-care and balance are just as important as getting your job done. You can’t do a good job, if you aren’t at 100%.
21 Strive to be the best one in your office at everything. The first one in the office, the last one to leave, the one who volunteers, the one who takes the appointment no one wants, the person with ideas, the person who gives feedback openly and the one who asks for more opportunities.
22 Every application is a human being
23 Do not be afraid to ask questions! Even if you think it might be a silly or stupid question, just ask. It is better to ask questions and do something right than to do something wrong and ask how to fix it.
24 Learn as much about the FA process as you can. Admissions and FA are so interwoven that you need to understand how aid is used at your institution to shape a class and achieve desired institutional objectives.
25 Refuse to be passive: take initiative and don’t abdicate responsibility. “How to Lead Change When You’re Not In Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority”: I’ve used the principles in this book with both my staff & student workers and wish I had this as a new counselor.
26 Focus on relationship management, more than the individual recruitment of students and families. The more you focus on the relationship, the easier the recruitment piece will be. Don’t limit relationship management to the prospective students/families you work with. Focus on establishing meaningful relationships with your colleagues (inside and outside of your department), high school counselors, and any influencers in your purview. This will undoubtedly assist you both as you start your career, but continuing on as you progress in your career.
27 Work to live, don’t live to work
28 Be genuine and hold true to your word
29 To my past self: you know more than you give yourself credit for.
30 Don’t try to do everything because you can’t; ask more seasoned colleagues what matters most, and start there.
 

31

 

Infotain. That is what admissions is all about. Deliver your information about you school in a way that is fun and engaging with students, families, and counselors.

32 Learn as much as you can. Understand not just the admissions process but also know how that intersects with other processes (e.g., financial aid). Work to become the “one stop” person for that student you work with. While you cannot answer every question, students, and their families, always appreciate it when you can provide them with the basic information to assist them in making decisions.
33 Get very comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know who does… I’ll get right back to you!”
34 It is okay to question leadership. Clarity is important and, sometimes, you can’t get there without asking questions.
35 You’ll work strange and long hours, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.
36 Learn as much as you can about technology. It is going to be the best way to figure out how to connect with students in the future.
37 Volunteer to help in the office when it is asked or needed. It is a great way to learn something new and also to shine a bit for stepping up in the office.
38 Be real and try your best to not sound rehearsed. Information is important but a REAL relationship with the student is invaluable.
39 One piece of advice that I would give a new college admission profession or tell my past self is that everything will always work out. All you need to do is to give yourself some time.
40 No matter your role, realize that you have the ability to put someone’s life on a completely different trajectory. All of your actions, no matter how seemingly insignificant–taking that extra minute to explain the financial aid process or advocating for that borderline student–directly impacts the students with which you work. Never cease to be humbled by that and let that be your motivation on the most difficult days.
41 It’s okay (and good!) to think outside the box! Share ideas, contribute to brainstorm sessions. Know that it’s okay to fail, as long as you’re always failing forward and learning from any mistakes or missteps along the way.
42 When you get ready for work in the morning, leave your toes at home. If you want to be successful then it takes working hard and most times working hard with people who are smart and also work hard. People are going to disagree with you and at times, you might look stupid. But take risks and don’t get upset on the small things. This means that toes are going to get stepped on. Similar to my answer for the first question – we need to care about people but we cannot only make decisions to please people so that it benefits ourselves. The best decisions and actions will sometime have to step on some toes for the greater good of our students and our schools.
43 Give yourself a year before making final judgment on the approaches your office takes.
44 Be open to taking on responsibilities that may not fall within your defined job duties.
45 Take time to ask questions, journal, and take timeouts to be creative with your approaches. If you get too caught up in the day to day tasks, you lose sight and creativity.
46 Stay positive and don’t sweat the small stuff.
47 Get on the road early. Being an in-house counselor or a new counselor is a great time to learn lots of information. The only way you improve what you do is by working with the raw material, messing up, changing your approach, and working with students. Being on the road is the best place to show what you really do know and what you’re still learning. Pair up with a seasoned counselor and hit some fairs. Answer the phones and emails. Ask questions. Start there and you’re on your way to being an admissions wizard in no time. Trial by fire is the only trial you need in the first two months.
48 Find balance. Admission requires a lot of you, and while it can be VERY rewarding, it can also be very draining. Find other passions and find the balance.
49 Be honest, be you, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you grow, and that’s how you develop as a professional.
50 Don’t take rejection personally. At the end of the day, the potential student isn’t saying no to you, but to the school.
51 Slow your roll! Stay the course. Keep your eye on the prize and work hard. Put all the other garbage away and worry about the things you can control.

 

NACAC and Why This One Thing Matters So Much!Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

If you read my newsletter frequently, then you know I’m always on the lookout for real life examples with practical applications that I can turn into articles. I even have a friend who’s an Executive Director of Admissions who asks me each time I see him if he’s going to end up in an article one day. Not today, but I was ironically with him at last week’s NACAC National Conference, more specifically the counselors’ college fair, when today’s article came to me.

Body language matters! I’ll explain why in just a minute.

If you want to become a better admissions counselor or leader, every aspect of communication (even the nonverbal kind) is important as you try and connect with a prospective student or parent, or when you try and lead your staff. We all give and receive signals every single day…things like how fast or loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make, and the gestures we make. Even when we stand and don’t say a word, we’re still communicating non-verbally.

Throughout last week’s conference in Salt Lake City, I saw numerous examples of good and bad body language. I saw vendors who were overbearing, moving around too much, looking around while talking to people, and standing in a manner that was standoffish. And I saw admissions counselors at the counselors’ college fair having relaxed, easy going conversations with each other…smiling, laughing, hugging, and eyes totally locked in. There’s more, but I’m sure you get the point I’m making.

Why is this important? Because body language can totally change how you, me, your colleagues, and your prospective students interpret messages. Did you know that some studies have shown as much as 70% of our communication is done non-verbally? Crazy, right!

Knowing all of this, the first piece of advice I want to give you is if your prospect’s words don’t match his or her body language, you’d be smart to rely on body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. This goes for things like college fairs and high school visits.

Here’s another important reason that body language needs to be something you think about. Research shows that we decide in the first few moments of meeting someone whether or not we like them, and in some cases, feel like we can trust them. You can create a favorable first impression and build rapport quickly by using “open” body language. In addition to smiling and making eye contact, show the palms of your hands, talk slowly and normally, and keep your arms unfolded and your legs uncrossed.

When you’re at college fairs, doing high school visits, or leading an information session during a campus visit event, are you looking at your audience or are you staring at your PowerPoint or the marketing materials that you brought along? How’s your energy level?

Does your body language mirror that of the person you’re talking to? Mirroring indicates interest and approval.

All of this matters…a lot! You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

One final point – It’s hard to fake nonverbal communication. Some people can sit a certain way or shake hands in a way that makes them appear confident. The truth is that likely won’t work unless you truly feel confident and in control. This is something that I talk about a lot with young, new admissions counselors. You can’t control all of the signals you’re constantly sending off about what you’re really thinking and feeling.

Body language is a great way to gauge how your prospect, or anyone for that matter, is responding to what you’re telling them, but you have to be very aware of what to look for and what you’re communicating to them.

I hope this was helpful. Reply back and let me know. And if you have questions about anything I’ve said, I’m all ears, so let’s start a conversation.

See you back here next Tuesday!

And This Year’s Award Goes to…Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Award shows highlight the amazing work of people in any given industry or profession.

Tomorrow, ESPN will broadcast their annual ESPY awards (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly). Once a year the Worldwide Leader in Sports assembles some of the greatest athletes on the planet all under one roof and then celebrates and relives the best moments of the past calendar year.

In honor of the ESPYs, in 2015 I came up with the TCS Awards for College Admissions. There is one small difference. I’m not actually handing out trophies to specific people today. Instead, I’m going to provide you with some very important reminders and strategies that will help you as you begin to recruit this next class of students.

Are you ready to get started with the show?

Here’s a look at this year’s categories and award winners:

Courage Award: This award goes to the Vice President of Enrollment or Director of Admissions who has the courage to employ a different strategy than their competitors, without worrying about what other industry leaders will think. When you have data or other focus group research available that suggests this generation of students wants something different (ex. more personalization in the communications you send and the campus visits you organize) or doesn’t see value in something anymore (ex. physical viewbooks), it’s time to make a change or at the very least have an internal discussion.

Best Use of Social Media Award: This award goes to the college or university that uses social media as a way to create connections between their current students, faculty, etc., and prospective students. The school uses multiple platforms but remains native to each (i.e. doesn’t post the exact same thing on different platforms). And instead of trying to come up with content that they think is interesting, they encourage their current students to document their daily journey through their eyes. That kind of storytelling is real and raw, and it creates emotions that increase the chances of action being taken.

Best Breakthrough Counselor: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who understands the importance of talking about subjects like fear, paying for college (aka: financial aid), and timeline early in the process with prospective students and parents. The winner knows that when you can alleviate fear and are transparent from the beginning, you build trust.

Best Record-Breaking Performance: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who’s able to get 8 or 9 out of every 10 students they call to answer the phone and engage with them. That performance is the result of setting up calls, communicating the purpose of each call ahead of time, and allowing each student to ask questions versus dominating the entire conversation with a bunch of facts and figures.

Best Communication Strategy Award: This award goes to the college or university that understands the value behind having one consistent voice as the lead communicator during the college search process. The winning school also understands that tone, word choices, and length are extremely important in emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages. And instead of always having a call to action that pushes a student to visit, apply, or deposit, they work in targeted questions that ask students and parents for specific feedback on a particular subject.

Best Director/Vice President of Enrollment: This award goes to the leader/manager who creates and maintains a motivated and confident admissions team. They understand that just like the students they’re recruiting, each of their staff members needs to be managed differently and has different wants, motivations, and fears. As a leader, they’re consistent with their message, they encourage input and new ideas, and they understand the importance of both ownership and recognition.

Best Campus Visit Moment: This award goes to school whose tour guides and admissions counselors consistently connect ahead of a student’s visit to discuss talking points and “connectors” that will personalize the experience. Speaking of tour guides, does your school treat them as part of your admissions team, and do they understand the important role they play in the student recruitment process? When they give tours are they just reciting a script and discussing the history of various building on your campus, or do they understand the importance of storytelling and how to effectively do that throughout a campus tour?

Best Upset Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who isn’t afraid to go up against a big name competitor. They create a winning strategy centered on consistent, personalized communication from the counselor to both the student and his or her parents. Within those communications is constant reinforcement about why choosing the smaller name school is going to be the smarter choice for them.

Best Championship Performance: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor, new or veteran, who ends up exceeding their deposit goal. They understand you cannot expect your admitted students to deposit if they (and their parents) don’t trust you. It’s important to start establishing a real recruiting relationship early in the process. If you do, you’ll have an easier time proving to prospective students (and their parents) that you’re concerned about them, and that you want to help solve their problems versus just selling your school.

Best Comeback Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who doesn’t avoid talking about objections and instead confronts negatives that they consistently hear about their school head on. They anticipate the common objections, get clarification, and then become a problem solver for their prospects.

Best Team Award: This award goes to the small college or university whose admissions, athletic, marketing, financial aid, and faculty leadership collaborate together and work towards a common goal. Doing so creates a unified campus community that shows prospective students and parents the kind of support they can expect to receive, as well as the kind of close-knit, welcoming community your campus offers.

Thanks for being a part of the 4th Annual TCS Admissions Awards! Enjoy the rest of your day. I’ll see you back here next July with more awards for college admission professionals.

P.S. Remember back in May when I gave away a training workshop to the admissions staff of one newsletter reader? Well, this past Thursday and Friday I led that training for Pamela Holsinger-Fuchs (pictured with me) and her team at Saint Martin’s University. It was a lot of fun, and we got a lot accomplished!

They’re Looking At You As One Or the OtherTuesday, July 3rd, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Prior to leading any training workshop, I always conduct a recruiting survey with that college’s incoming or current freshman class (depends on the time of the year). The questions we ask get to the heart of what students liked and didn’t like about the way colleges communicated with them during their college search process. It’s a lot of great context for us and for the schools we work with.

One of the survey questions asks students to give the admissions counselors at their school advice on what they need to understand about the way this generation of students wants to be recruited.

“We​ ​want​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​that​ ​you​ ​genuinely​ ​care​ ​about​ ​us​ ​as​ ​an​ ​individual.​ ​Not​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​just​ ​another person​ ​paying​ ​tuition.” That student quote appeared in a recent survey, and comments like it continue to show up multiple times in just about every survey we do.

Like it or not, prospective students (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).

A big key to increasing yield is to consistently be a resource rather than a salesperson. This generation of students wants to feel that you’re genuinely trying to help them navigate what has become a scary and confusing process.

“Just​ ​be​ ​friendly.​ ​<Admissions Counselor name>​ ​was​ ​so​ ​gracious,​ ​kind,​ ​and​ ​caring​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​process​ ​and​ ​really gave​ ​the​ ​university​ ​a​ ​friendly​ ​face​ ​that​ ​I​ ​could​ ​associate​ ​myself​ ​with.” That student quote was an answer to the same question in the same recent survey, and it’s proof of the positive impact that being a resource can have in the mind of a student.

A lot of admissions counselors believe they have to “sell” their school early in the process and try to move name buys and inquiries as fast as possible towards applying, visiting, and ultimately making a decision. Each of those is important, but as I’ve told you before, we’ve found there’s a more effective approach that you can take. It’s one that will still allow you to do each of those things, and at the same time, do each in a way that consistently makes students feel like you’re actually making the process all about them.

If you constantly inundate students with information and bullet points about every single aspect of your school, and you never give them a chance to get a word in or ask questions, they’re going to view you as a salesperson. Conversely, if you ask them questions about their wants, needs, fears, and timeline, and you communicate consistently with their parents, and you help them solve their on-going problems, they’re going to see you as a resource. Plus, in the process of taking that approach, what you’ll find is you still have all kinds of opportunities to discuss key things that make your school unique and a good fit for that student.

There are a lot of other benefits that come from being a resource. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with a student/family and build trust. When you develop a reputation as someone who is trustworthy, you’ll quickly become the “go-to” counselor for help and advice. And, as I just touched on, when you’re a resource, students will tell you what you need to tell them to sell them. Here’s what I mean. Accurate and timely information is important. One of the biggest mistakes I continue to see admissions counselors make is they give information before they get information…they talk too much. The end result is A) Overloading the other person with too much information; and/or B) Giving the wrong information based on the student’s wants and needs. Asking the right kinds of questions at the right time will lead to students telling you what they want to know about next and what they feel needs to happen first before they take the next step in the process.

So, does that mean if you’re a salesperson you won’t be able to connect with and gain a student’s trust? No, but I promise you it will be a lot harder, and a lot more time consuming.

Here are a few additional things you can do to become a resource for your prospects:

  • Respond quickly to emails, texts, and phone calls
  • Deliver information in an easy to understand, conversational, and engaging format
  • Stay current on trends and pop culture
  • Continually polish your problem solving skills
  • Consistently network and exchange ideas with other admissions professionals
  • Cross train/collaborate with other departments on your campus (specifically financial aid and athletics)
  • Admit when you don’t know something and ask for help

Over the July 4th holiday break I encourage you to look back at some of your recruiting emails and letters from this past cycle. Do they come across as friendly and helpful or salesy? It’s one or the other.

And as you talk more about fall travel in your office or changes that you’re going to make next recruiting cycle, specifically in the way that you communicate with students, let me know how I can help. I’d love to start a conversation about helping you grow.

Stay cool, enjoy the 4th, and I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from the neighborhood fireworks show that myself and a few others put together last weekend for our community. This is such a fun time of the year!

What’s Your Answer to This Important Question?Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

 

Delivering better, more consistent customer service continues to be one of the biggest concerns that college admission and enrollment management leaders voice to me.

Ten years ago if a prospective student had a really bad campus visit, or if a parent received the runaround from someone at your school, they’d vent to a few family members or friends and that was that.

Social Media has completely flipped the script, and with it, word of mouth has exploded like never before. Its impact can be extremely beneficial for both you and your school, or it can be devastatingly negative.

Three years ago I wrote an article where I referenced a conversation I had with a guy named Bill. That article, parts of which I’m going to share with you today, has become one of the most read and most referenced articles I’ve ever written. The conversation Bill and I had generated a very important question that I’m going to pose to you today. Your answer is even more important given the current recruiting landscape of 2018.

Let me start by telling you who Bill is. He runs a decorative/stamped concrete business in the Indianapolis area, which as you may or may not already know, is where I live. Bill is one of the most genuine and down to earth people I’ve ever met. When we built our house, his team created our stamped concrete patio.

A year or so after our patio went in, Bill happened to be in the area and chose to knock on my door and thank me. I’ll get to why in a minute. Bill had just come from our new neighbors’ house across the street. After seeing our patio when they moved in, my neighbors told me that they wanted to do something similar in their backyard. Without hesitation I whipped out my cell phone, told them they needed to call or text Bill, and I gave them his cell number. I had done the same thing for a half dozen other neighbors before, and I’ve done the same thing multiple times since.

Bill’s knock on my door that day was to thank me for all the word-of-mouth recommendations. To date, his company has created and installed 19 different patios in my subdivision.

Why did I offer up Bill’s information so quickly then, and why do I keep doing the same thing now when people ask about our patio? The answer is easy. It’s not because Bill asked me to, and it’s not because he offered me a referral reward of some kind. It’s because so many people in 2018 don’t act like Bill. Too many people, especially those in customer service industries, only care about getting “the sale.” You never hear from them again after that point unless they need something from you of course.

So, here’s my question for you: How many people that barely know you and have had only minimal contact with you (like I had with Bill) would, without hesitation, recommend your school to a prospective student (or their parents) if asked about different colleges?

I’ll even take it one step further. How many of those same people would recommend you to a friend who needed help with something in your area of expertise? If you’ve never thought about either of those things, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful selling tool you have available. It stems naturally from an unmatched customer experience or interaction. Prospective students, just like my neighbors, are relying on others to help them make decisions.

Our ongoing research with incoming and current freshmen shows that they’ll often go against what their own gut is telling them and side with other influential outside decision makers. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what’s happening. It’s actually happening all across society. Just look at Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, etc.

So, I’ll ask the same question again in a different way. “Who’s recruiting for you when you’re not recruiting?”

How many different people do you come in contact with or pass in the halls during a school visit, college fair, or professional development conference? How about the hotel that you stay at or the restaurant on the road where you eat? Think long and hard about that for a minute. If you don’t think investing in relationships will pay a lifetime of dividends, I’m here to tell you it does. I believe in that statement so much that it was the focus of my keynote speech at this week’s NJACAC conference.

Your goal should be to generate positive interactions that get passed along from one person to the next, just like Bill did with me. You control the narrative that is written and communicated about you. That means more smiling, listening, and talking with passion when you discuss your school and what you do.

Start spending a couple of extra minutes and really concentrate on creating a positive relationship with this next class of prospects, their parents, and others around them. The same thing goes for other industry and business professionals that you come in contact with.

The personal and professional R.O.I. when you invest in relationships is astronomical, both short term and long term. I used the word “invest” for a reason because great relationships take time.  There is no shortcut!

Got a question about student recruitment, leadership, or professional/personal development? I’m here to help if you’re willing to reach out and ask.

Have a great week!

It’s Time to Tell You How I Got HereTuesday, March 6th, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

My plan was to finish up an article I started about the “buying signals” that undecided students put out around this time each year. Then, while waiting on my flight home last night from Boston, I read a thank you email from an admissions counselor, and I haven’t been able to get her words out of my mind. So, I’ve decided that it’s time to tell you how I got here…how I became (among other things) the guy that sends you this newsletter every single Tuesday.

I’m sharing my story with you now because the conversation I had with that admissions counselor at last week’s Indiana NACAC affiliate conference resulted in a “BIG aha moment” for her (her words not mine), much like a similar conversation did for me back in 1993. My hope is this article will do the same for somebody else who really needs it right now…maybe you.

When I graduated from high school in 1994, the plan was to attend University and become a teacher. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was because my mom was a teacher. Or, maybe it was also because my outlook on life (specifically my mindset) changed in 1993 after a conversation I had with one of my high school teachers, Mr. Boichuk. Looking back over the years, it’s become clear to me that the conversation he and I had was a big aha moment that helped shape who I’ve become, what I’ve accomplished, and what I will accomplish over the rest of my professional career.

During my junior year of high school in 1993 I was really struggling to understand why I didn’t excel at certain things and why I hadn’t gained acceptance from certain peers. I was mentally beating myself up pretty badly. It all came to a head one day during a conversation with Mr. Boichuk, my history teacher. The gist of what he told me at the end of our conversation is as follows – You’re not going to be great at everything; Stop feeling sorry for yourself; Stop worrying about what you can’t do, and stop listening to people who tell you that you can’t do something; Focus on what you’re good at and figure out what you need to do to achieve what you want; You control your effort and your attitude…start believing it! I still remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

From that day forward it was a complete shift in mindset for me. I started believing in myself more. I stopped listening to people who told me I couldn’t do something, and I started really focusing more on what my strengths were, while also accepting my limitations. In short, I started to become self aware.

If you’re unhappy right now, or you want to move up the Higher Ed ladder like so many admissions professionals tell me they do, you may need to do the same. You may need to do a personal deep dive and become more self aware. That’s what I told the admissions counselor during our conversation in the conference hotel lobby last week after she shared with me that she felt she got passed over last fall for a promotion. In listening to her it quickly became clear that she was focused more on the past instead of looking in the mirror and considering that she might not be ready/have the skill set needed yet. Outside of being one of the more veteran counselors, I asked her to think about things she had done to prepare and position herself as someone who was ready for that opportunity.

When you truly become self aware, you’re able to more effectively manage your behaviors and emotions. The more you can do that, the easier it is to make real improvements that result in growth.

For me, the first big challenge came in 2004. I had played high school basketball but was always the last player to come off the bench and get into a game. After stumbling upon an opportunity to coach a high school all-star team at a summer event between my freshman and sophomore year of university, I decided that coaching was something I wanted to pursue further. I finished university and eventually made my way to Minnesota. After coaching at the high school level for five years (and working at that high school during the day), I felt I was ready to make the jump to the college level. Every single person outside of my immediate family and closest friends told me it would never happen because I didn’t play in college, let alone much in high school. Being self aware helped me to realize that even though I didn’t have the typical resume of most college coaches, what I did have and what I was really, really good at was being a genuine, caring person who could build relationships and connect on a personal level with both young people and adults. That ability coupled with my work ethic led me to develop thousands of relationships with all kinds of different people in basketball circles from the NBA down to the youth levels. The end result was an 8-year college coaching career that included helping recruit a young man who would eventually be named National Player of the Year; another who would become a school’s all-time assists leader; and I was a part of a Division II school’s win over a Top 25 Division I program.

Fast forward to 2014 and another opportunity presented itself simply because of a relationship I had built – Construct, manage and lead the college admissions division of Tudor Collegiate Strategies. It was a big challenge, but the opportunity to build something from the ground up and help people grow (like I had done in coaching) drew me in. For the first two years I was constantly told during my travels from vendors and others in the space that my chances of gaining any real traction were low. Some even went so far as to tell me that I was going to lose because I hadn’t worked directly in a college admissions office. But I knew deep down that I had a plan built on a tireless work ethic, patience, empathy, and the understanding of how to build and grow real relationships. Plus, I had gained a lot of knowledge from my time as a high school college and career advisor, and as a college coach I had worked closely with admissions offices at multiple schools.

Beyond that, I knew that there would be failures along the way, and I was okay with that fact. I was going to learn and grow from every single mistake.

The results continue to speak for themselves. Our company continues to grow at an incredible rate, and last year we helped multiple schools achieve record freshmen enrollment. Clients are seeing growth both as institutions and as individual admissions professionals.

I take great pride in what we’ve built to this point, but my fuel and the biggest thing that keeps me pushing forward and motivated every single day, is knowing that tomorrow I may have another opportunity to help someone else grow or maybe even help them have their big “aha” moment.

The feeling I got when I read that thank you email from that admissions counselor is hard to describe…it was just so exhilarating. It’s the same feeling I had in 2016 when an admissions counselor I didn’t know asked me to be his mentor after I finished leading a workshop, and it’s the same feeling I get every single time somebody thanks me for an article I wrote or tells me that they tried a strategy I recommended and it worked.

Again, the biggest reason I’m sharing my story today is to remind you about the importance AND the power of self awareness. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You need to be okay with yours, whatever they are. When you’re honest with yourself, who you are and where you are in life, and you’re willing to put in the work to get to where you want to be, you’re on the path to becoming the best you.

Please use this article as a reminder or as motivation to change. And if you’re already in a great place in life but you have a colleague or friend that isn’t, I encourage you to forward this on to them. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it!

If you’re interested in receiving my weekly admissions email newsletter where this article first appeared, all you have to do is send me a quick email that says “sign me up for your newsletter.” I’d love to have you join this growing community!

 

 

It Happened Again Last WeekTuesday, February 6th, 2018

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

The “it” I’m referring to is poor customer service. On the plus side my bad experience provides the perfect opportunity to offer an important reminder as you continue to assemble your next class of students.

Last week I had an appointment set up with an auto glass company to replace the windshield on my wife’s car. As you can see in the picture to the left, those pesky rocks got her again during a recent drive in to work.

The company had given me a window of 8am-12pm to do the repair. A little after 9:00 on the day of, I got a call telling me that they’d have to reschedule for later in the week because the windshield was still in Kentucky…annoying, right. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

Three days later the technician arrived to finally do the repair, and within minutes he gave me a look that I knew wasn’t good. My wife’s car has rain sensor wipers and the replacement windshield in his truck was the wrong one.

At this point I was 0 for 2, but what really frustrated me was the fact that less than a year ago the same company had replaced the same windshield on my wife’s car for the same reason…meaning they knew the exact specs, and this was a clear case of poor communication somewhere along the line.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the company (including the technician) has yet to apologize for their mistake. They’ve rescheduled me (again) for tomorrow, so hopefully they’ll show up with the correct part, although I have yet to receive any sort of confirmation or reminder of tomorrow’s appointment.

Situations like this happen all the time in business. They also happen during the college search process with poor (or lack of) communication almost always being the reason. I’m sure you could give me a personal example if I asked you for one. Think for just a quick second about how you felt in that situation and how it affected your view of that company, a specific person, or a particular store location. You might have even voiced your anger to family, friends, or through one of the oh-so-public social media platforms.

Now I want you to think about the miscommunications and mistakes (even the little ones) that occur with students and families during a typical recruiting cycle. They’re going to happen because none of us is perfect. But how many of them could be avoided with better communication or collaboration within not only your admissions team but also other departments and colleagues on campus? I think we can both agree that the answer is “a lot!”

Here are some common communication mistakes that I continue to hear/read about in my travels. Some can be embarrassing while others can have more serious consequences:

  • Sending an email, letter, or text message without checking it
  • Assuming that a message has been understood
  • Assuming that a student/family knows all the different steps to take during the college search process
  • Assuming that when a conversation happens between an admissions counselor and a student (ex. financial aid), the student will immediately relay all that information to their parent(s)
  • Admissions counselors and coaches spending time on the same task because both assume the other won’t do it correctly
  • Student tour guides or ambassadors bringing up talking points (and questions) during a tour that have already been discussed or answered by their admissions counselor
  • Not asking the parent(s) how their child’s college search process is affecting them
  • Doing more talking when you should be listening

When a mistake or miscommunication occurs, here are three important things I would recommend you do:

  • Admit your mistake
  • Apologize sincerely
  • Come up with a solution (and make sure the other person is in agreement)

If you’re still questioning whether or not all of this is really that important, let me remind you that Dan (Tudor) and I have massive amounts of student survey data which continue to show that superior customer service by a college’s admissions staff (and other departments on campus) significantly impacts a student’s final decision in a positive way.

Let me know if today’s article was helpful. And if you did enjoy it, please share it with your colleagues or consider bringing this topic up at your next staff meeting. It really is that important!

A Behind the Scenes Look for YouTuesday, October 10th, 2017

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

“What are other people saying, Jeremy?” “What are you seeing?”

I can’t remember the last week when I wasn’t asked one or both of those questions in an email, text, DM, or during a phone call with a college admissions counselor or leader.

If we’ve met before or you’ve connected with me at some point, you know that I’m always happy to share. It’s not a client only thing. There is no catch. I’ll give you all the answers that I have, namely how the right communication strategy will grow your college’s enrollment. And I’ll tell you how to improve the confidence, skill set, and strategic thinking of you or your team. All you have to do is ask.

While some of the bigger themes from all my conversations over the past few months have ended up turning into articles like this one, much of that information has been sitting on note cards on my office desk or in a Word document in my MacBook.

This past weekend I decided to do some fall cleaning in my office. As I was organizing things, I thought this week’s article would be another good opportunity to pass along many of those conversation points as well as the other recruiting reminders and strategies that I’ve been recommending and sharing.

  1. There needs to be a bigger focus on storytelling, specifically training admissions counselors and tour guides how to effectively incorporate it into their communications with prospective students and parents.
  2. How a prospect is made to “feel” when you meet them at a college fair, high school visit, or when they’re on your campus continues to play a significant role in their final decision.
  3. Recent student outcomes (by major) are becoming more and more important to this generation of students. Unfortunately, this information is lacking on many college campuses.
  4. If you want to improve your team’s customer service, help them be more instinctive and empathetic.
  5. Phone calls and high school visits will continue to offer massive ROI to those who can execute them correctly. “Voice” leads to deeper relationships.
  6. Using video in your recruiting communications creates higher engagement.
  7. Very few colleges have a social media strategy for recruitment, let alone one that creates engagement.
  8. Most colleges do not produce social media content native to each platform.
  9. Facebook ads and Instagram influencers. Educate yourself on both if you haven’t already.
  10. By the way, you have micro-influencers on your campus. Do you know who they are and how to use them as part of your social media recruiting strategy?
  11. In many conversations, context matters more than you think.
  12. You need to help a family create a conversation about cost long before your financial aid award letter is distributed.
  13. Leave your email inbox open for an entire day and respond to messages from prospects and parents immediately after they come in. Small change, big return.
  14. Ask your current students for two or three things that make your college unique and then start talking about those more with prospective students.
  15. Don’t give up on students who don’t seem to be engaged with your story early on. Keep consistently sending emails and letters. At this point, many are still listening even though they’re not responding.
  16. Asking the right questions the right way at the right time. This separates a great admissions counselor from a good admissions counselor.
  17. As the recruiting process moves forward, the story should get more and more narrow and be focused on them specifically.
  18. Get an answer to these two questions from your prospect (if you haven’t already): “What scares you the most about the college search process?” AND “Walk me through how you’re going to make your college decision.”
  19. Most parents will vote to have their son or daughter stay close to home or go to the school that costs less UNLESS you clearly tell and show them why your college is the smarter choice.
  20. Execution over ideas.

If you want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these 20 things and how they fit into your recruiting strategy, here’s your next step. Email me: jeremy@dantudor.com

P.S. Here’s a picture I snapped of the snow covered mountains on my descent into Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Thoughts for You From My Travels This SummerTuesday, August 22nd, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I’ve really busy since the beginning of June. Outside of the July 4th holiday week, I’ve been on the road at some point every single week except two.

A lot of the trips I took this summer were to lead admissions staff training workshops. As part of each of those visits, I take the time to meet 1-on-1 with each Admissions Counselor, Assistant/Associate Director, Director, VP, and occasionally even the President of the school. I love those individual meetings because it allows me to offer personalized direction and help to each person based on their needs and experience.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the more popular topics that admissions professionals have been asking me about the past few months, as well as offer some important reminders from my travels that may help you become a more efficient recruiter and/or leader.

  • Admissions counselors, particularly younger ones, continue to voice their frustration about taking ideas to their boss and being told no. The reasons vary, but I think it’s so important that counselors or anyone who repeatedly experiences a situation like this continues to keep bringing ideas to the table. If you stop doing that out of frustration, not only are you hurting yourself and potentially your colleagues, but most of all, you may be preventing prospective students and families from receiving improved customer service or a better overall experience.
  • On a related note, more leaders (Associate Director to an Admissions Counselor or Director to an Associate Director or Counselor) need to provide context to their staff. Explaining the “why” behind a decision, a change in strategy, or when you ask someone to take on a task out of nowhere can make all the difference in the world. Most people rarely buy in completely without knowing why.
  • If you manage a territory, how you keep track of the information you obtain from hundreds or thousands of phone calls, emails, school visits, etc is vital…and I continue to find that consistency is lacking. Very few schools (although yes there are some) are without a CRM. Regardless of where your staff stores this information, it needs to be accessible by your admissions colleagues. When you’re out of the office or busy with another task and someone else there has to deal with a student or parent from your territory, will they be able to “catch up” quickly on the current conversation and truly able to help because they know what’s been discussed during previous communications? If not, everyone can appear to be unorganized.
  • Varying levels of tension between admissions and other offices across campus (marketing, financial aid, athletics) continue to decrease productivity and staff confidence. Without consistent collaboration, it becomes a lot harder to provide outstanding customer service.
  • Intensive tour guide training is slowly but surely becoming more of a priority on campuses. It’s not just about the history of your school and the buildings that make up your campus, it’s about storytelling, creating effective engagement, and getting your tour guides to understand their role in the college search process and why it’s so important.
  • Early in the recruitment process, admissions counselors should concentrate more on developing trust and an environment that promotes back and forth engagement and less about communicating facts and figures about their school. Counselors who take this approach continue to find that the process actually moves faster and not slower.
  • Not having parent information, namely their first name(s), makes it hard for schools to truly personalize those communications. Whether it’s changing out fields on your inquiry card or adding this as a call to action in an early email, schools should be more aggressively seeking out this information based on the fact that parent(s) remain the biggest influencer in their child’s college decision.
  • Setting up a phone call ahead of time via email or text and communicating the “why” behind your call will drastically improve your response rate with students.
  • If you’re an admissions counselor who wants to climb the ladder and advance in the profession, you need a detailed plan to achieve that goal. Regardless of how much, or how little, professional development and mentoring is provided to you in your office, the choice to better yourself is ultimately your responsibility. Take the initiative and attempt to connect with people both inside and outside of your school that hold positions and titles you strive for. Also look to increase your knowledge of all things enrollment management (which is a lot!). You may reach out to 100 people and only hear back from 2…which is better than 0. Listen and take advantage of their knowledge. There’s also your local NACAC affiliate. And when you have an extra 5 or 10 minutes between high school visits or fairs this fall, remember, I’ve written over 150 FREE articles in 32 different categories for this exact reason. I’m committed to helping you!

If you want to talk in greater detail about one or more of these bullet points you don’t have to bring me to campus to do so. Each week at the bottom of this newsletter I give you my cell phone number and my email address. Let me say it again – I’m here to listen and help if you’re willing to take the time to reach out and ask.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you back here next Tuesday.

There’s Something We Need to Talk About This WeekTuesday, June 6th, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

This week I’ll be speaking at my third professional development conference in the past month and the fourth of 2017.

I love these events because it’s rare to get so many people who work in the same profession all under one roof at the same time. The opportunities for growth and networking are literally endless, if, and this is a big if, you take the time to make connections and then work to grow those relationships over time.

Let me ask you this – At the last conference or networking event you attended, how many new connections did you walk away with? I ask admission professionals this exact question all the time during my travels and I’m amazed at how many times the response is something like, “I don’t know.” What concerns me even more, though, is how much I’m starting to hear that the other person isn’t sure they’re going to be in higher education long term so what’s the point in expanding their connections in the industry.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 41 years on this earth, it’s that the world is a much smaller place than we think and investing in relationships, regardless of who it is or what field they work in, pays a lifetime of dividends.

My hope is that today’s article will help you understand, or maybe just offer a friendly reminder, about why professional development needs to be an ongoing process (not just something you do during your staff retreat or the one conference you might attend) and what the ROI of making it a priority year-round will be for you.

If you’re an Admissions Counselor or Assistant/Associate Director reading this and your boss doesn’t have the money to send you to the NACAC conference or your state affiliate event, what’s your plan to grow? Technology has given you the Internet (webinars, newsletters), email, a cell phone, and social media. How are you utilizing each one to make and cultivate connections with your peers at other institutions and those in leadership positions you strive to achieve? And what about vendors or other passionate professionals inside and outside of the industry who offer their time and knowledge?

If you’re in a position of leadership as a VP or Director and you’re concerned with retaining and growing your staff, do you have a concrete, detailed plan to do those things? Just having meetings for the sake of having meetings has never been more detrimental. If you don’t have a well-developed professional development plan that includes workshops, mentoring, and both individual and team meetings and functions on an ongoing basis, it’s going to be extremely difficult to retain and attract quality people. And as you work to help your team grow, always remember that your staff are different people with different wants, needs, fears and motivations.

What is the ROI of ongoing professional/personal development?

  • It allows you to be more aware of changing trends in an industry
  • It ensures that your skills stay relevant and current
  • It provides new perspective
  • It challenges you to think about alternate approaches to solving problems
  • It’s a proven fact that you will be more engaged and committed in your day-to-day
  • AND MOST OF ALL, it provides numerous chances to network that will lead to future growth and opportunities

I’ve only scratched the surface today with this topic, but my hope is that this summer you will become committed or even more committed than you already are to personal and professional growth.

If you’re hesitant to step outside your comfort zone a little (or a lot) because of fear of the unknown, rejection, etc., just remember that not doing so poses an even bigger risk to you. Being idle or becoming “comfortable” will cause you to miss out or get passed by. Don’t think for a second that there aren’t other people who would love an opportunity to sit in your chair. Some of them are even making plans on how to do that right now!

How can I help you grow? As always, you can connect with me anytime. I’m ready to listen and help if you’re willing to share. And if it’s not with me, please start a conversation with someone else today. Don’t put it off any longer!

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