by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
The question came from a second year admissions counselor who had attended my presentation at IACAC Congress earlier in the day.
He found me during the conference social and asked if he could vent about something that was really frustrating him.
“I have all these admitted students and I’ve worked really hard to stay in touch with them but every time I check in and see what’s going on they don’t say much…I’m getting tired of waiting for them to make a decision or tell me they’re going somewhere else.”
My reply to him: “Have you asked each of them when they’re going to make their decision?”
He paused for about 3 seconds before telling me, “No.”
Are you facing a similar situation with admitted students right now?
All that constant wondering isn’t much fun, is it?
Here’s the good news – there’s no need to wonder about it. In fact, there’s a simple question that can help erase all the mystery when it comes to the decision making process of a prospective student:
“How will you make your final decision?”
I want you to ask it just like it’s written. You can put that question in a brief email you send (make sure you come up with the right subject line), or you can ask it during a phone call. Just make sure you ask it…don’t wait any longer! And if you’re saying to yourself, “Jeremy, I already asked that question (or a version of it) earlier in the process,” that’s fine, but I want you to ask it again. While you should definitely ask this question up front, you and I both know that this generation changes their mind all the time.
After the student answers, here’s an important follow-up question to ask:
“And then what?”
As the student begins to tell you more, I want you to ask, “And then what?” again. And on and on until you finally get a handle on the real source of their decision. Our clients, as well as others I’ve recommended take this approach, have found it reveals the undecided student’s current mindset, and it draws out vital information at this stage in the process (ex. I picked another school and was afraid to tell you; I’m waiting on other financial aid packages; I have a lingering concern or objection that I was afraid to bring up).
If you’re looking for even more reassurance that asking a question like this can pay off, I asked the same admission counselor that I mentioned earlier to put it to the test with some of his undecided admits.
The result? He got the answers and information he was looking for from every single student whom he asked how they would be making their final decision. He now had a better feel of what to do next with each of those students…one of whom told him he had picked another school.
I can’t stress how important this short series of questions is. It’s a key question for admissions professionals to ask when they want to understand how a decision is going to be made. And it’s a great question to ask if you’re constantly finding yourself wondering what your prospects are thinking.
If you have a particular question, problem, hurdle, or recruitment issue that you want advice on and are afraid to ask your colleagues, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll get a response from me within 24 hours, guaranteed!