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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!

P.S. I thought you might enjoy this picture I took yesterday at sunrise during my flight to Boston.

 

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.

One is Good, One is Bad. Which One Are You?Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

I can’t believe that August is already here…wow! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed your summer so far. I’ve been traveling like crazy, having visited 8 states over the past 7 weeks. And this month I’ll be leading admissions workshops on 7 more campuses.

Prior to leading any training workshop, we always conduct a recruiting survey with that school’s incoming freshmen class. The questions we ask get to the heart of what the students liked and didn’t like about their school as well as different parts of the college search process.

One of those questions asks the 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.

“Be friendly and always try to be helping the students figure things out and ease the stress of the admissions process.”

That student quote appeared on a recent survey and versions of it continue to show up multiple times with just about every school we work with.

It’s a fact – prospective students (and their parents) see you as either a salesperson (bad) or as a resource (good).

A big key to increasing enrollment and 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 achieve their goals.

Here’s what I mean. A lot of admissions counselors believe they have to “sell” their school early in the process and try to move prospects as fast as possible towards applying, visiting, and ultimately making a decision. Each of those is important, but what if I told you that for a large majority of your prospects we’ve found there’s a more effective approach that you could take. It’s one that will still allow you to achieve those goals, and at the same time, do it in a way that consistently makes your prospects feel like you’re actually making the process about them.

If you constantly approach your prospects with information and bullet points about your school, and you never give them a chance to get a word in, they’re going to view you as a salesperson.  Conversely, if you ask your prospects effective questions about their wants, needs, fears, and timeline, and you provide them with ideas and answers that help them meet their goals, 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 multiple opportunities to discuss key things that make your college or university unique and a good fit for that student.

There are huge benefits that come from being a resource for your prospects. For starters, it’s much easier to connect with them 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.

When you’re a salesperson it’s all about you, what you want them to do, and why you think they’d be crazy not to pick your school.

Does that mean if you’re a salesperson you won’t be able to connect with and gain your prospect’s trust? No, but I promise you it will be a lot harder, and it’s going to take a lot more time than you probably have available.

As we’ve previously discussed, early in the recruitment process it’s vital that you connect with your prospects. If you don’t connect with them, it makes it much harder to guide them through the multiple steps that make up the college search process.

Author, speaker, and sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has a great rule to remember when you’re in a selling (recruiting) situation: The percent of time your prospect does the talking dictates your chances of securing their commitment.  If they talk 20% of the time, you’ll probably have a 20% chance of enrolling them.  If they talk 80% of the time, you’ll probably have an 80% chance of enrolling them.

Gitomer’s point? If you want to sell your prospect that your school is the “right fit” for them, you need to give them the answers they need.  You need to be the resource they’re searching for, and you need to do it by making everything you do and say about your prospect and not about you.

The minute you cease to be attentive to their wants and needs, you run the risk of losing them to another college that will be.

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

  • Respond quickly and deliver information in an easy to understand, engaging format
  • Stay current on trends and pop culture
  • Continually polish your problem solving skills
  • Consistently network and exchange ideas with other admissions professionals
  • Admit when you don’t know something and ask for help

I’m going to leave you today with a little bit of homework. Look back at some of your recent recruiting emails and letters, and consider having a discussion in your office (if you haven’t already this summer) about the talking points your tour guides use during campus visits.  How much of it is centered on your prospect, and how much of it is stuff you’re pushing about your school?

As you talk more about fall travel in your office or changes that you’re going to make this next recruiting cycle, let me know how I can help. I’d love to start a conversation together!

This Year’s Award Goes to…Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

Award shows highlight the amazing work of people in any given industry or profession.  They also bring about healthy competition and allow for both personal and team growth.

Later this week, ESPN will broadcast their 25th annual ESPY awards (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly). Once a year the worldwide leader 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 give you 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 Director of Admissions who understands that this generation of students wants a variety of messaging during their college search process, even after they’re committed to your school. From beginning to end, you need to consistently tell your school’s story via email, direct mail, phone calls, text messaging, social media, and in-person in a way that promotes and encourages engagement. It’s okay to be different in your tone and language because that approach will increase the engagement level you receive back. Once you get a prospect or parent to pay attention to what you’re saying, then you have to keep them engaged. The moment you (or your content) become boring or predictable, you’ll lose their attention.

Best Breakthrough Counselor: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who is self aware enough to know when to ask for help from their colleagues. They worry less about perception and more about effectively serving students and families. They understand that not asking for help can cause a situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when their energy and focus are needed elsewhere.

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 ahead of time, communicating the purpose of the call, and allowing each student to ask questions versus dominating the entire conversation with a bunch of facts and figures.

Best Director/VP of Enrollment: This award goes to the Director of Admissions or Vice President of Enrollment 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 motivations and fears. As a leader, they’re consistent with their message, ask for input and new ideas, and understand the importance of both ownership and recognition. This year’s winner also values collaborating with other offices on campus, specifically financial aid. They set up cross training between admissions counselors and those in financial aid so that everyone’s skill sets are expanded and time is used more efficiently.

Best Upset Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who isn’t afraid to go up against their big name competitors because they know they have a winning strategy. The foundation of that strategy is consistent, personalized communication from the counselor to both the student and his or her parents. Within those communications there needs to be 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 has delivered the best performance turning admits into deposits. They understand the power of creating and cultivating an emotional connection with their prospects because those same prospects trust their feelings as they make their final decision about a college or university.

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 early on. They anticipate the common ones (like financial aid and location), get clarification, and become a problem solver for their prospects.

Best Moment Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor whose hard work is rewarded in a major way when they get a big YES after they “ask for the sale.” Most admissions counselors rarely ask for that commitment, instead assuming that their prospect will tell them once they make their final college decision. If you’ve built trust, understood your prospect’s individual needs, and answered any objections, the next logical step in the process is to ask for this.

Best Team Award: This award goes to the small college or university whose leadership creates and promotes a working environment where the admissions, financial aid, athletics and campus visit staffs all work in sync. Doing so creates a unified campus community that shows prospects and parents the kind of support they can expect to receive.

Thanks for being a part of the 3rd Annual TCS Admissions Awards, and enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll see you next year with more awards for college admission professionals.

P.S. If one of your summer discussions has to do with changing your messaging/comm. flow, check out this unique approach with a BIG R.O.I.

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!

Is It Time to Change Your Approach?Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

nacac16jtby Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

How did the past 7 days go for you? For me they were even busier than I anticipated…some last minute on-campus admissions staff training, prepping for a couple NACAC affiliate conferences, recording a podcast episode, and a ton of phone call strategy sessions with clients and non-clients. It was a full 7-day work week, and a really fun and rewarding one at that.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through my notes and contemplating what I wanted to write about and help you with this week, I got an unscheduled phone call from a first year admission counselor at a client school. When I hit the red, call-end button on my iPhone, I knew exactly what we needed to discuss today. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with, and it’s a subject that, while uncomfortable for many, is something that I believe is worthy of the next 5 minutes of your time if you’ll give it to me. Plus, when I’ve written about personal growth and staff development in the past, many readers of this newsletter have told me it really helped them/their team take a step back and evaluate. I’m hoping today’s article will do the same because this is something that stalls the growth process in all of us.

The gist of that conversation with the admission counselor was this – He wanted to know how to go about asking colleagues for help with something without sounding like an idiot (his words).

Have you ever had that same feeling at work, with friends, or at home? Asking for help from colleagues, friends, your spouse, your parents, or maybe even your kids is something that a lot of us have trouble doing.

Too many people have a defensive wall up about asking for help. Even worse, others believe they don’t have trouble asking for help when they really do. Let me make my feelings clear in case you’re a first time reader or you haven’t read my articles in a while. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Why is everyone so scared? Here are some reasons I hear frequently during phone calls and 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our on-campus training workshop:

  • I don’t want to look stupid
  • The other person will think I’m selfish
  • I’ll owe the other person something
  • I’m a leader and my team will think I can’t do my job
  • I don’t want people to know how bad the situation is
  • I’ll be giving up all control
  • I should know how to do this project or handle this situation
  • People will think I’m lazy and just don’t want to put in the work
  • I don’t want the perception to be that I’m struggling or failing
  • I’m worried that the person I need to ask for help will screw everything up, make the situation worse, or get more credit than they deserve (I hear this one a lot from coaches about admissions and admissions about coaches)

Raise your hand if any of those sound familiar. (My hand is up in case you were wondering).

Regardless of the reason(s) behind why we don’t ask for the help we need, the bottom line is we have to get past that. Nobody, and I mean nobody who is a successful person in Higher Education or any other profession got where they are alone.

Asking for help is a smart strategy, especially if it’s help with something that isn’t your strong suit. To do that, though, you have to be self aware and honest with yourself. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Can you admit what yours are and aren’t?

I would also add that you have to know which colleagues to ask for help in a specific situation (i.e. the right person for the job), and you need to frame your “ask” properly.

The big danger when you don’t ask for help is that stalling can cause the situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when your energy and focus are needed elsewhere.

How often you ask is going to depend on a number of factors. I definitely don’t want you to take the easy way out and ask every time you stumble. I do, however, want you to become self aware enough to know when help is needed.

So ask a colleague, a friend, a family member, or I’m reminding you that you can ask me…just please be willing to ask somebody the next time you need help.

Do you agree with me? Either way I’d love to hear what you think about this important subject! You can email me or connect with me right now on social media (icons are at the top of this article).

 


 

 

Do You Excel at These 7 Things?Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services 

     

Throughout the year I continue to provide you with a series of articles that I hope will aid in your professional development.

Remember, doing some critical self-evaluation is important if you want to improve a particular skill and ultimately become a more dominant admissions professional.

One of the most popular parts of our On-Campus Training Workshops is the 1-on-1-counselor consultation. During these meetings a couple of counselors always ask me what skills and traits I believe separate a high performing counselor/recruiter from an average one.

If you’re expecting to see words like “organized,“ “friendly,” and “good communicator,” that’s not where this list is going. Those are givens. Instead, I’m going to share some skills and characteristics that I see consistently, not just in admissions counselors who excel, but also in nearly every elite business professional that I’ve ever met.

How good are you at these 7 things?

  1. Problem solver. It’s crucial that you possess the ability to both discover problems and develop solutions. Remember, you’re dealing with teenagers and young adults who want to have their problems (chiefly – how to pick the right college and how to pay for it) solved. It starts by asking effective questions at the right time.  If you can’t do that, you’ll miss out on opportunities to solve problems and separate yourself and your school from the competition.
  2. Translator. Don’t ever, ever assume that an 18 or 21-year old student, and quite possibly many of their parents, know what FAFSA, PPY, EFC, COA, ROI, Early Action and Rolling Admission all mean. You will need to translate those industry terms into layman’s terms, quite possibly more than once. You’ll also need to do so in such a way that doesn’t make your prospect or their parents feel incompetent.
  3. Listener. One of the bigger mistakes I continue to see a lot of admissions counselors make is they give information before they get information. They provide more information than is necessary, and in many cases, they give out the wrong information (based on their prospect’s wants and needs). Want to know how to determine if you’re a good listener? The good ones, and I mean the really good ones, ask effective questions that get their prospects to not only reveal their “wants” and “don’t wants” but also how they would like the college search process to play itself out.
  4. Closer. Simply put, effective “closers” (those who turn admits into deposits) understand it’s about the relationship just as much as it is about the sale. Selling is about building a relationship with your prospect (and their parents) throughout the recruitment cycle. When you consistently prove you’re a resource and come up with ways to answer their wants and needs, you develop trust and loyalty. That will lead to positive outcomes.
  5. Empathy. Some people are born with this skill while others have to develop it over time. Truly understanding your prospect, their life situation, fears, motivations, and dreams isn’t an easy thing. The counselors that struggle with this skill are generally the ones that are more concerned with what they need from their prospects and not what their prospects want from them. Let your recruit know that you understand his or her “want” and have a solution to satisfy that “want.”
  6. Always look to improve. With success often comes comfort. When a person reaches a goal, there can be a tendency to assume that if they repeat the exact same steps again it will produce the same results. It’s a common mistake. Those that rise to the top value both positive and negative feedback and are willing to invest to improve their skills and attitudes. Be proactive, and seek out learning opportunities.
  7. Remain passionate. It’s a magical word that can help you win over recruits. As I’ve said before, passion is not an act and is hard to fake. Real passion for who you are and what your institution provides can make all the difference in the world.  Passion will lead to meaningful long-term relationships with your prospects (and their parents) every single time.

If you’d like to talk in greater detail about one or more of these critical skills and attributes, and how you can incorporate them into your recruiting strategy, don’t hesitate to email me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com

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