By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Last week we talked about the importance of early personalized communication with rising seniors. If you missed that article, I encourage you to read it here.
There’s a better than average chance that what you send this next group of students in the coming days and weeks will make or break your school’s chances for receiving a campus visit this summer and quite possibly an application as well.
In the words of one high school junior, “Being contacted without any personalization and so frequently does nothing to increase my willingness to apply.”
Students repeatedly tell us in focus group surveys that it made a huge difference when they felt like their admissions counselor wanted to have a personal conversation and get to know them, instead of just constantly receiving the same kind of information and messages day after day.
Another rising senior told us, “It feels like they are salesmen and trying to sell all the time to us. Colleges and universities need to see us as individuals first and be personal with us so we can feel a connection to their school.”
This generation does not want to be “sold” on your school at the beginning of their college search. In fact, you can’t realistically do that in one or two emails, a letter, a brochure, or an information session anyways, so don’t try.
Instead, focus on getting their attention in an authentic and empathetic way, and then encourage a back-and-forth conversation to begin. Your goal should be to talk with them, not to them.
Right now I want you to aim for responses instead of just giving more information. Focus on building relationships, instead of sharing so many facts and figures.
The selling (and differentiating) part will eventually happen because it’s important, but we continue to find that it’s best saved for later in the process.
One of the most effective ways to get a back-and-forth conversation going is by asking a direct question (in an email, letter, or in-person) that feels personal. What you ask should depend on how much you do (or don’t) already know about the prospective student.
- Where are you right now in your college search?
- What scares or worries you most when you think about your college search?
- What does the perfect college look like in your mind?
- What kind of community and atmosphere do you want your future college to have?
- Tell me about the major you’re thinking about. What’s your dream job, and what are you hoping to do with it?
- What’s the biggest thing about <College Name> you want to know more about?
- What do you want to see us talk about or do next?
- Are you and your parents/family open to talking with me about your plan to pay for college as well as scholarships and financial aid?
Once you start to develop a relationship and the student seems excited/interested in what you’re sharing, then talk about the importance of visiting campus or participating in an upcoming virtual event.
Follow the suggestions I’ve outlined, and watch your engagement improve dramatically as you begin your new communication with this next group of students.
Want to talk more about something I said this article? Just hit reply or click here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.