by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
May 1 has passed. Hopefully your school achieved its enrollment targets.
When it comes to prospects that you missed out on, there are many potential reasons why. If you’ve hosted us on campus to work with your admissions department and learn how to recruit more effectively, you know what our studies show: A large majority of the time that final decision comes down to how your prospect “feels.”
Freshmen frequently offer responses like “feeling of a person and not a number,” or “the feeling of community on the campus” in response to why they chose that particular school on one of our customized research surveys.
Throughout the recruitment process many admissions departments are coming to the conclusion that they must create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects because they trust those feelings as they make their decision about your college.
How do you do that? Making them feel wanted is a great starting point. However if you really want to break through the hard exterior of today’s teenager you need to go one step further and get to the core of the recruit and his or her parents.
Here are five ideas that I recommend you put into practice with this next class of prospects.
- Establish an early foundation for proving that you are the emotional choice that “feels” right to them. When you create an emotional tie with your prospect early in the recruiting cycle we’ve found that they will usually gravitate to your school. It’s imperative to have a strategy for how to create that feeling in the first place. One of the examples I use when presenting our On-Campus Workshop is Starbucks. They are the master of creating and managing a feeling of comfort when you walk in to any one of the thousands of their stores. They use the lights, the comfy couches, the music and the free Wi-Fi. It’s all done with a purpose. As a smart recruiter you need to have a plan to create the right feeling for your prospects now that the initial contact message is in their hands. If you fail to do that you’re introducing random results into the process. So, what’s your plan for establishing a feeling that they will gravitate to over the coming months?
- Use keywords in your communications with them. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter you know how much today’s prospective student wants to be valued and viewed as important to someone else. So then why not tell them exactly that? Three simple words – “I appreciate you.” Try it and see what happens. Or if you’re face-to-face with the prospect how about “I believe in you.” Those are powerful words that your prospect will respond to. Then think of other things you can tell them in the coming weeks that will emphasize the idea that you appreciate and value them. In addition, this year’s college prospects are telling us that having a college representative inquire about how a prospective student “feels” about certain things on campus gets a much more in-depth response. It encourages open discussion without the idea that there is a “right” answer they should be giving.
- Write things down and then use them as future reference. Taking notes is proof and it honors someone’s thoughts. This works well in-person when you’re talking to either the recruit or their parents. It shows the other person that you’re valuing what they’re telling you. Down the road when you refer back to those notes it will remind them that you were truly listening to their wants and needs, and it shows that you treat them as an important individual.
- Answer “why” during the campus visit. Too many schools show what they have to offer during the campus tour, but fail to answer why it matters to a specific prospect. When you answer the “why” it allows your recruit to visualize, which is a key ingredient in creating those all-important feelings.
- Be passionate. I consider passion to be the most underrated tool in admissions recruiting. If you want to know why, click here. When people smile, speak with enthusiasm and look others straight in the eye, they become hard to ignore. In the process they bring joy to those around them. A passionate recruiter takes the time to understand the wants and needs of everyone involved in the decision making process. Doing this creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other feelings that a recruit relies on to make their decision.
When you create the right feelings in the minds and hearts of your prospects, and those around them, you greatly increase your school’s chances of enrolling those students.
Tudor Collegiate Strategies offers one-on-one help with formulating a research-based approach to communicating with recruits. If you’d like to see what that looks like, and get an overview of our approach, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.