By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
4 minute read
Over the past few years the conversation around ‘summer melt’ has grown in importance. Students continue to submit deposits to multiple colleges, and a good number second guess their decision in those final weeks before the beginning of school.
The transition to college tends to be overwhelming and confusing, even if it is exciting for most students.
I continue to see way too many admissions and enrollment management teams slow down, or in some cases, completely stop their messaging and recruiting conversations. That’s a big mistake and one I want to make sure you avoid.
Even if you do a ‘hand-off’ to another department on campus, your messaging and communications should not completely drop off. Instead, you should adjust them accordingly based on what else the student is or isn’t receiving.
You still need to continue to ‘sell’ the student and their parents on why your school was the smart choice, and/or things like why it’s worth more, or why it’s worth going farther away to.
Have you ever regretted buying something and returned it for your money back? What about making an impulsive decision you regretted later?
Changing our mind happens all the time, and it does with your committed students, too.
Here are three key strategies you should put into play to help decrease melt:
- Continue to send committed students regular email and text message communications. When you slow down or completely stop having a regular flow of relational and transactional messaging, students tell us it feels like you’ve started taking them for granted and aren’t as serious about them as you once were. Add in the fact that other colleges continue to send them messaging even after they pick your school, and you can understand why more students are second guessing their decision. After a student deposits/commits, your goal should be to provide them with personalized messaging that reinforces various value points related to your student experience. The difference is in the way you frame those conversations. Focus on reminding them why they made such a great decision as well as some of the things they have to look forward to as a student at your school. You should also fill in some of the big blanks like what those first week of school will look like, and the opportunities they’ll have to meet new friends. From a frequency standpoint, two or three personalized touchpoints each month is sufficient. As you’re doing that, remind them every now and again how excited you are that they chose your school, and that if they or anyone in their family has questions, you’re still available to listen and provide support. And in the final few weeks leading up to the big transition, be sure to intentionally ask your students about their plans when it comes to moving into the dorms or if there are any new questions or topics getting talked about among the family behind the scenes? How is everyone feeling about the transition?
- Find ways to connect student to your campus community. Through social media and other mediums, start to introduce your deposited/committed students to some of the people, places, activities, events, and resources that make your student experience fun and enjoyable. For example, have current students talk about how they decorated their dorm rooms or the biggest tips they’d give a new student. Have current students also share one thing that surprised them the most when they were a new student, and get them to talk about or show popular hangout spots both on and off campus. You can also find ways to virtually connect everyone on different social platforms. Host weekly games or competitions where new students compete online against each other or against your current students. The goal is to create opportunities for incoming students to meet some of their future classmates now and start to feel more comfortable with their new home away from home. Plus it will help alleviate some of the fear and uncertainty that many students have.
- Don’t forget about the parents/family. Parents are sometimes the reason for all the second-guessing, so make sure you continue to ‘sell’ them even after the decision has been made. Parents and family members will either be an asset or an obstacle. To ensure they’re an asset, continue to keep them in the loop on your conversations, and do that in a personal way. That means having a separate stream of email messages versus cc’ing them on all student communications. From a frequency standpoint, once a month is sufficient. This helps to guarantee that everybody is on the same page in terms of next steps. It also helps to remind the parents/family that their admissions counselor is still available to answer any questions and provide support, plus it reinforces how important the student is to your school.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, let’s do it. Melt communications is a service that we provide a number of colleges and universities with every year. Simply reply or email me here to start a conversation.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.