By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
When was the last time a prospective student or parent didn’t have any objections, hesitations, or express a concern about your school?
It’s too expensive, too far or too close to home, there’s nothing to do, or the food options don’t seem great. You can pretty much guarantee there’s going to be something.
Believe it or not, objections are actually a good thing.
In our research, we’ve found that most students and parents don’t bring up objections or express a concern unless they’re seriously considering your college or university. It’s often a clear sign of interest on their part.
Taking it one step further, during the training workshops I lead for admissions teams, I explain that it’s a smart strategy to actively seek out different objections. This is particularly important whenever you get the feeling that there’s something a student or parent isn’t telling you.
If you think they might be holding back an objection, you’ll need to ask some direct, “probing” questions, and then do a lot of active listening. You’ve got to get them to be specific, and to clearly clarify what they mean by their objection, and how they came to feel that way.
Sometimes what you’ll find is their objection is actually misinformation. You’ll know an objection is real if the student (or parent) repeats it more than once during your conversation, or brings it up again in future conversations.
Once you have a clearer picture, the next thing I want you to do is repeat the objection back to the other person. “So what you’re saying is that you’re worried about how far away our school is from home, right?” Give them the chance to confirm your statement, or to clarify things again.
If the objection is a common one that you hear often, let them know that what they’re concerned about (or what their parents are concerned about) is on other students’ or parents’ minds as well…it’s completely normal. Doing this will also show them that you’re not mad or offended that they brought up or have a specific objection. They need to know that it’s okay to bring up concerns in future conversations with you.
The final step is to be a problem solver and lead a problem-solving discussion that reframes the objection, and redirects the conversation back towards something positive for your school. A problem-solving discussion might start something like, “I understand…moving away from home and being somewhere new where you don’t really know anyone can be hard. If I walk you through some of the resources and things on campus that we do to help new students feel comfortable and fit in, would you consider starting your application?” Or, “If I could connect you with a current student who is willing to share their experience about coming here from far away and why it’s been great so far, would you be willing to talk about coming to campus for a visit?”
Again, it’s up to you to be a problem solver. The student may not be raising an objection as much as he or she is reaching out to have their problems solved.
Whether they come right out and tell you their objection or concern, or you have to dig a little for it, when you learn how to effectively deal with objections, you’ll stand out from your competition.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said, hit reply or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else in your campus community who could also benefit from reading it.