By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
If you’ve been recruiting students for more than a few months, my guess is you’ve encountered a couple of phrases that you’re tired of hearing.
“I need to think about it” and “I’m not sure” are popular answers from both prospective and admitted students when you ask them to do things like sign up for a campus visit/event, apply, or submit their deposit.
Seems reasonable, right? The college search is confusing and overwhelming, and students are scared to make the wrong decision – a decision that could be potentially life changing.
But in this case, it’s not really that reasonable. Let me explain why.
In our ongoing focus group surveys with high school seniors and college freshmen, many of them continue to say they actually end up spending little to no time thinking about those things despite telling you the opposite. For others, it’s easier and more comfortable to offer up those phrases and essentially “stall” rather than bring up a concern or a negative.
Like many of us, students don’t like making tough or big decisions. Plus, some are worried you’re going to be mad at them if they’re honest, while others believe you’ll actually voice your frustration and be critical of them.
To make matters worse, I continue to find the majority of admissions counselors accept those phrases versus pushing back and asking for context.
The next time students tell you they want to think about something or they’re not sure, call them on it.
There are a variety of ways you can do this with the most effective being asking a direct question. Simply respond and say, “Tell me what you need to think about.” Or, “Help me understand what you’re not sure about.”
The result of using this simple strategy will be one of two things. Either the student will a) fumble around and not really be able to define anything for you – which tells you they’re stalling, or b) they will bring up their objection/concern, and possibly offer up additional information on the conversations that have been taking place with their family or friends.
Once the student has defined it, be prepared to lead the conversation based on the information they offer.
Getting the student to define what they’re thinking and/or how they’re feeling (and why) is an important skill that all recruiters need to hone.
A final note – This same technique can be used with parents. It’s essential you make time to find out what the biggest influencers think. Any time they use those phrases or don’t give you much to work with, I encourage you to politely ask them for an explanation.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said, I’d love to hear from you. Simply reply or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.