By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Last week while I was leading a training for an admissions team in Georgia, one of the topics we discussed was effective early communication with the next class of students, namely your 2024 inquiries.
I shared a number of important do’s and don’ts, and I thought it would be helpful to highlight three common mistakes I want you to avoid making in the coming days and weeks.
- Don’t tell junior inquiries to sign up for a visit (or apply) in the first communication you send them. It comes across as salesy, pushy and disingenuous. Would you ask someone to marry you on a first date? You could, but you’re probably not going to get the answer you’re hoping for. Scheduling a campus visit is a big step that takes discussion and planning not only by the student, but also their parents or other family members. Same thing goes when it comes to applying. It’s a big step that for most students involves a process. Instead, I encourage you to start building a personal relationship. Send a counselor introduction email that recognizes you know very little about the student and that the college search process can be overwhelming. Make it clear you would like to learn more about the student’s interests, goals, and dreams, so you can figure out how to best support them during their search. End your email by encouraging them to answer a direct question that you incorporate as your call to action. You could ask, “When you think about going through your college search”, “What do you worry about most?” or, “When you picture your future college, what are some of the things you see?”
- When a student comes to campus for an individual visit, don’t forget to schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with their admissions counselor (or someone on the admissions team). My recommendation is small and medium size colleges and universities shouldn’t make this optional. Larger schools may not be able to do it with every student, but I recommend you incorporate it as often as possible based on staffing. Have that 1-on-1 meeting be the last thing a student or family does before departing campus. In addition to being another personal touchpoint, this meeting allows you to see if there was something the student was hoping to see but didn’t, answer any burning questions they may have, and discuss the next step in the process while getting agreement from the student. Handing them a packet of information and/or encouraging them to reach out if they have any questions is not an effective next step. Here’s a better post-visit strategy.
- Don’t forget to ask for, and subsequently enter into your CRM, parent contact information. Too many schools are waiting until after a student has been admitted before beginning serious communication with the number one influencer. It’s a big missed opportunity. If the family visits campus, have this be a brief talking point during the aforementioned 1-on-1 meeting. Or, you can create a counselor introduction letter that gets mailed to their home and requests the contact information as the call to action. Or, once the student’s counselor develops some trust and rapport, they can ask the student to mention to their parents that they would like to have a brief conversation with them, and ask for the best way to do that. Regardless of how you attempt to capture parent contact information, be sure and explain to the parent (or student) why you’re asking for that information. Make it clear you understand the important role parents play in this process, and you want to not only keep them in the loop on things like deadlines, but also share information on key topics that will be helpful for them as they support their child during the college search.
If you’d like to talk more about your first contact message, your campus visit experience, communicating with parents, or something else, feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.