By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
In an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago I mentioned one of the reasons why more students are taking longer to make their college decisions.
Too many colleges and universities are trying to skip steps and push prospective students to action before they’re ready. It’s become a barrage of emails, text messages, and cold calls that often times provide little value or help, and instead ends up creating more stress.
It’s so important that you take your time and lead prospective students at all stages through the process of understanding how your school is different, and why it may be the best fit for them based on their wants and needs.
Without some clear advice and guidance, a lot of students get admitted to different colleges and then end up feeling stuck and confused as to when and how they should decide on a school.
This is another opportunity for you to lead the conversation and help guide those students.
As you’re building trust and rapport, always be intentional with the questions you ask. For your admitted students in particular, if you’re not sure HOW or WHEN they plan to make their decision, I want you to ask them as soon as possible. Those questions could be asked as a call to action in your next email, in person at your admitted student day event, or over the phone.
Just ask them this way:
“Have you figured out how you’re going to make your college decision Jeremy?”
“Have you and your family talked about when you’re going to make your college decision Jeremy?”
If the answer to one or both of those is, “no” or “I’m not really sure,” the door is now open for you to be that guide again.
You could share stories about other students you’ve worked with and how they made their college decisions. That might include giving them a list of tiebreaking factors. Our survey research continues to show that the “feel” of campus is the most important factor that influenced students to choose one college over another.
If they don’t know when they plan to make their decision, I encourage you to have a discussion around the importance of creating a timeline. Explain that doing this together will alleviate a lot of the stress and uncertainty that they feel. You could also add that it gives everyone a clear checklist of what’s left to do (based on what stage they’re at), and it gives an end point to what is a very stressful and confusing process.
Let me add one more thing. Your goal should be to help the student/family create a mutually agreed upon timeline. I cannot emphasize enough the words “mutually agreed upon.” You lead the conversation and be their guide, but make sure you’re getting their input and agreement on various things. Do not just come up with a timeline for them.
Incorporating those two questions into your recruiting conversations will help you manage your territory more effectively. You’ll feel like you know where more of your students are at, and it will move you one step closer to asking them for the commitment/deposit.
If you have a question about this article you can email me right now and we’ll discuss it further.
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