By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
One of the things we’ve learned from tracking tens of thousands of admissions interactions over the past 8+ years is the more a counselor probes and digs, and the longer they can keep a conversation about a particular topic going, the better the results.
When I say ‘results’ I mean the counselor can gather more information that helps them understand a student’s mindset, and whether that student is getting closer or farther away from taking the next step in the process with their school (i.e. visiting, applying, or depositing).
The problem I see with a lot of counselors is they send an email or text that prompts engagement from the student, the student replies, and the conversation basically ends there.
Let me give you an example:
A counselor texts a student about signing up for one of their overnight events or admitted student days. The student responds with, “I’m coming to the one on the 15th.” The counselor then responds back with, “Awesome, see you then!”
Given how hard it is to get a student’s attention in the first place, this is a missed opportunity to extend the conversation and give the student ‘permission’ to go deeper and give the counselor more context.
An effective way to do that is by having the counselor be inquisitive and ask a direct follow-up question. So, a better response (especially if the student hasn’t visited campus before) would be “Awesome, what are the one or two things you’re really hoping to see when you’re here?”
Depending on the student’s answer, there will likely be a second opportunity to probe, or an opportunity for the counselor to share something (maybe a relatable story) that gives the student additional and helpful context – which oftentimes leaves the student feeling like you care more than your competition.
Here’s a second example:
A counselor emails an admitted student and asks how they’re feeling about making their college decision. The student responds back with some version of, “This whole thing is so stressful! I just want it to be over.”
Instead of offering a ‘basic response’, the level of responsiveness could be improved by acknowledging that it’s normal to feel this way, and that fear of making the wrong decision is actually something that most students deal with.
The counselor could then follow up with something like, “Help me understand why you feel that way.”
As the conversation progresses, the counselor might also have the opportunity to offer a few helpful tips or even some advice straight from a current first-year student who dealt with something similar.
That doesn’t happen if the counselor doesn’t drill down, follow up, and extend the conversation.
In any recruitment conversation, you should be prepared to lead and extend the conversation. If you do, you’ll be able to better evaluate your next move in the process.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, let’s do it. You can reply back, 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.