By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
Last week I received emails from two different admissions counselors who are a part of our newsletter community. Both were seeking feedback on how handle a common situation with admitted students that many counselors face this time of year.
Here’s the advice that I shared with each of them:
Question: “Is it okay to ask my admitted students something like, what’s holding you back from submitting your deposit?”
Absolutely, and here’s why. Asking a question like that shows serious interest, and gets you information you can strategically use to help them with their decision. It’s especially important that you ask probing questions after they visit campus, once they’ve been admitted, as well as whenever you feel like a student is near the end of their process.
You could also consider asking, “Why do we still seem like a good fit for you <First Name>?…walk me through what you’re thinking.”
There’s also value in asking, “If you had to choose today, what might be a reason why you wouldn’t pick us?”
Question: “How should I respond when students tell me we’re one of their top choices but they aren’t ready to make a decision?”
The most important thing you need to do is ask a direct question that leads to a better understanding of their timeline for making a decision. One that we’ve found works well is, “Walk me through what you’d like to see happen next.”
Doing that puts it back on them and typically leads to one of two responses. A lot of the time, they don’t have an idea of what should happen next. That’s your red flag that you might still have a ways to go when it comes to convincing them that your school is the best fit. But sometimes they’ll reveal details of their process (i.e. things they’re waiting on, a fear or concern they have, or some kind of objection), which can be incredibly helpful when it comes to figuring out what you need to say next.
Another way to respond in this situation would be to ask, “Help me understand that a little better <First Name>. What are you still trying to figure out about our campus and being a student here?”
After they give you their answer, follow-up with, “Okay, and what else?”
Active listening is extremely important in both of these situations. Once they’ve shared anything additional, be sure and thank them for their feedback. You should now have a better understanding of the student’s timeline for making a decision, and/or what hurdles remain when it comes to choosing your school.
Lastly, if either of those lines of questioning reveal that the student is struggling to break a tie between your school and one other college or university, your job is to now lead them into a deep discussion about what they don’t know – and still need to figure out – about your school, your location, their intended academic major, living on campus, financial aid, etc.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, let’s do it. 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.