By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Last Thursday I got an email from an Associate Director that made me get a little emotional. Even though we’ve never met she wanted me to know that part of the reason she felt like she blew past her territory goals this year was my weekly articles.
A year ago she was questioning her own abilities, and last summer a tweet of mine about personal accountability led her to do a deep dive of her day-to-day. She wrote down everything she typically did from the moment she woke up until when she went to bed. What she found was there were a bunch of 5, 10, and 15-minute blocks throughout the day that could be used differently.
Emails like hers are the reason I put so much time and energy into this weekly newsletter.
I’m sharing this story because it’s further proof that self evaluation and being willing to making small (or big) changes can lead to amazing accomplishments.
As you begin to shift your attention this spring/summer to the next class of prospective students, here are ten things that I encourage you to think about:
- Make it a point to talk about fear in all of your recruiting conversations. When you do, you’ll create comfort and build trust. You’ll also find that it significantly increases the level of engagement you get from that student (or parent).
- Establish a timeline with each student/family early on. Establishing a timeline or a checklist of next steps at the beginning of the process is a very smart strategy. Doing so helps take away a lot of the unknown, as well as some of the stress that students and families are feeling during the college search process.
- Have one consistent voice in all of your recruiting communications. Instead of sending singular pieces throughout the year from the Office of Admissions, Director, Admissions counselor, a current student, faculty, etc., establish a point person right now so that prospective students know who they can turn to for help and advice throughout their college search. Based on all the data we have, that person should be their admissions counselor. That doesn’t mean you can’t send out additional communications from other people. Before you do though, have the established “go-to person” set up each of those communications. This is another way to increase the level of personalization you provide.
- Tell your students how much they matter. If you’re a frequent reader of this newsletter than you know how much this generation of students wants to be valued and have their wants and needs viewed as important. Go ahead and tell them that. Use phrases in your emails and phone calls like, “I appreciate your feedback,” “You’re important to us,” “We want you here” and “I believe in you.” Phrases like those contain powerful words that prospective students will respond to.
- Keep your notes up to date in the CRM. Make it a priority, especially during fall travel season. It will benefit you and everyone else in your office.
- Start a conversation about paying for college and cost long before you send out your award letter/package. Start with the “4 Buckets” conversation that I’ve talked about before, and remember that this conversation should be with the parent(s) and/or the parent(s) and their child together…not with just the student.
- Clearly explain how your school is different from other colleges, especially your direct competitors. I can’t emphasize this point enough. If you don’t do it early on, you can expect most students to slip in to “analysis paralysis” and have a longer, drawn out decision-making process. So, instead of just saying you have “professors who care,” start providing concrete, detailed examples of how they care. And if you have a “welcoming community,” provide context that allows a prospective student to connect the dots and understand why that kind of atmosphere is important and how it will make their experience at your school more enjoyable and worthwhile.
- Love them or hate them, phone calls are a must. This is something I’ve been hammering home over the past two years. Despite how digital and social this generation of students has become, phone calls still need to be a core piece of your recruiting communications plan. They’re not going away anytime soon, and the majority of high school juniors who are on your radar right now actually value them when they’re done correctly (i.e. the way students want). If you still don’t believe me and want more proof, click this link and read that article I wrote in February.
- Explain the why more often. Context matters! Throughout the college search process colleges ask students and parents to take action on a multitude of things. They want to understand the WHY or the “because.” Why should they visit your campus? Why should they apply right now? Why is it in their best interest to fill out the FAFSA in October instead of waiting until January or February? Why should the student answer the phone when you call? Take the time to clearly explain why you’re asking them to do whatever it is and how it will benefit them or make their life easier.
- Loop the parents in on everything you’re talking about with their son or daughter. Ignoring the parents and not making them a valued partner from the beginning will result in a lot of losses…no matter how positive your conversation is with the student. Parents need to be consistently looped in about what you’re discussing with their child. Do that and you’ll gain additional insights about their son or daughter’s decision-making process.
If you want to talk more about any of these ideas you don’t have to bring me to your campus for us to do that. All you have to do is reply back to this email and start a conversation with me.