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

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read This Before You Text Your RecruitsTuesday, December 15th, 2015

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Texting. It’s been a hot topic lately during calls with both clients and other admissions leaders.  Many of the counselors that I’ve spoken with lately continue to get reports from prospects that they’re receiving “recruiting texts” from competing institutions. Hold that thought for a minute.

Let’s begin with the facts. We all know that today’s teenagers use text messaging more than any other mode of communication. Well, why is that? Your prospects tell us in our surveys that they like short bursts of information that get to the point plus it’s convenient for them. When it comes to the college recruitment process, many say there’s “less pressure” texting than there is with a phone call. Your recruits also tell us that phone calls with admissions counselors, too many of which are unexpected and not planned in advance, distract them from what they’re doing and always seem to take longer than promised.

It’s easy then to assume that text messaging might just be the answer to your phone call problems with recruits. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” Teenagers haven’t abandoned phone calls (nor should you). “Text messages are cool, but kind of impersonal. I prefer phone calls because the conversation moves faster and there’s less misunderstanding.” That recent quote is one of many that still pop up all the time on our recruiting surveys. Want more proof? A recent Pew Research Center survey of teenagers finds that phone calls are an important way that teens connect, particularly with their closest friends.

So, where do you go from here? There’s no doubt that texting has a place in today’s recruiting communication flow. Let me start by telling you that our latest research with students says both emails and phone calls rank one and two as preferred methods of communication with admissions. The gap, however, between text messages and phone calls has closed significantly.

Now I want to circle back to the beginning of this article (where I asked you to hold that thought). Understandably, counselors are calling and emailing to ask if they should be sending text messages that contain recruiting content.

The short answer is NO. I want you to resist the temptation to recruit via text message.

Let me define what I mean by “recruit”:

  • Giving your prospect facts and information about your college or university
  • Giving your prospect any kind of “sales message” about your school
  • Making the text message look and sound like one of your regular recruiting emails or letters

Under no circumstances should your text messaging with a prospect include anything that would remotely look or sound like one of those three bullet points. Spread that word to your colleagues in the office, but let your competitors keep doing it (because believe me many of them are).

Text messaging isn’t used to “sell,” it’s used to communicate and hold conversations.

If you want to utilize texting the “right way,” which is the way that your prospects want you to use it, here are three things you need to keep in mind:

  • You should ALWAYS ask your prospect for permission before sending him or her a text. Many will be okay with it, but there will be some who tell you not to. Never assume.
  • Text messaging should be used to casually communicate back and forth during the recruiting process. Be concise and specific. Sending reminders, for example, is effective. “Most students from this generation would rather receive a quick text reminding them of something rather than a phone call.” That’s another direct quote from a recent recruiting survey with a client of ours. These could include, but aren’t limited to, reminding them of your upcoming visit to their high school, a visit to your campus, or a deadline reminder.
  • Your wording and sentence structure matters. You need to make it easy for your prospect to actually reply to your text message. If that doesn’t happen, it might mean that you aren’t “sounding” like you’re easy to talk to, which you need to be with this generation.

Again, let me be clear. Texting is not a “one size fits all.” For many of your prospects in this current recruiting class it will be a great way to reach and engage them if you go about it the right way. Remember, though, just because your prospect gives you the green light to text doesn’t mean you can or should eliminate phone calls with him or her.

I want you to be the admissions counselor that knows how to effectively use every single communication platform to your advantage. Good luck!

Did you know that our team of experts at Tudor Collegiate Strategies gives our clients an incredible competitive edge when it comes to getting the attention of, and communicating with, their prospects? It’s true. This in turn leads to measurable increases in YIELD. Email me at jeremy@dantudor.com to have a conversation about how we can do that for your institution.

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