By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Over the last few weeks I’ve received emails from a handful of newsletter readers asking for advice on how to handle certain situations with their admitted students.
There are two in particular that have come up multiple times. Both are pretty common this time of year, so I thought it would be helpful to share the advice that I offered for each.
Situation #1: How should I respond when students tell me we’re one of their top choices, but they’re still trying to figure everything out?
The most important thing you need to do is ask a direct question that leads to a better understanding of their timeline, and/or what they have left to do before they make their decision.
Two questions we’ve found work well are:
“What do you see as your next step?”
“What do you have left to do before you make your decision?”
If they struggle to answer either of those questions, that’s your red flag that there’s something they’re not telling you. For example, the student may be struggling to understand how your student experience is truly different or better than their other choices. Or, why your school is worth paying more for if they have a less expensive option.
But sometimes they’ll reveal details of their process (i.e. things they’re waiting on from other schools, or a fear or concern they – or their parents – have), which can be incredibly helpful when it comes to figuring out what you need to say or do next.
Another way to respond in this situation would be to ask, “Why did <College Name> end up being one of the schools that made your final list?”
Situation #2: Is it okay for me to directly ask my admits what’s holding them back from submitting their deposit?
Absolutely, but make sure you do it with some empathy. Let the student know that you understand this is a big decision, and you’re trying to see if there’s anything else you can do to provide support – like, for example, connecting them with a current student or giving some tips on how to break a tie between two schools they really like.
Consider saying, “Jeremy, we’re ready for you to join our community, so can you help me understand what’s keeping you from picking <College Name>?” Phrasing it that way shows serious interest, and by being direct, you’ll increase your chances of the student giving you the context you’re looking for.
I would also recommend that you be prepared to address and discuss responses that mention cost or distance from home.
In both of these situations, asking a direct question then actively listening and asking probing follow-up questions is extremely important.
And once the student has finished sharing, be sure and let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to share.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, or if you want to bounce an admitted student event idea off me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.