By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Last week I gave you some advice about fall travel.
As I was responding to many of your emails about this topic, it got me thinking that it might be helpful for me to expand on something I said in that article.
Part of the problem in getting and keeping the attention of prospective students at a college fair or during a high school visit is that too many admissions professionals repeat the same “elevator pitch” over and over. Now, multiply that by the number of college reps that a student talks to at a fair, for example, and you can see how that could become annoying real fast.
Not all students are alike. Meaning, you shouldn’t take the same approach with every single one of them.
In order to get them excited enough to fill out your school’s inquiry card or to take whatever the next step is, you need to know more about who they are and what their wants, needs, and fears are as they’re looking at different colleges.
As I’ve mentioned before, the easiest ways to do that is by asking effective questions. Your goal in those first 15-20 seconds should be to ask one or two open-ended questions that are easy to answer and show the student you’re making the conversation about them. This approach will allow you to gather enough information to put together a response that will hopefully peak their interest and/or help them solve a problem.
Teenagers are no different than the rest of us. If you wait and give them information when they want it and are ready to receive it, they’re more likely to remember it, see the value in it, and take action because of it.
If you’re in a rush to deliver information, there’s a pretty good chance that the student is going to feel rushed and/or pressured. Remember, not all inquiry cards are equal, meaning some students will fill them out just so they can walk away and be done talking to you.
Have fun with these interactions because when you’re excited and you ask the right kinds of questions I guarantee you that just about every student will gladly talk about themselves and share all kinds of useful tidbits of information. Those will be extremely valuable during future conversations so make sure your focus is 100% on them and not on other students hanging around your table or waiting in line.
When you consistently take this personalized approach not only at fairs/school visits but also with your follow-up emails, letters, hand-written notes, phone calls, and texts, it becomes much easier to get the student to take action when you say something like, “I’d love to get you on campus and be able to show you instead of just telling you. If I send you some information about visiting campus and what you’ll be able to see and do when you’re here, can you and your parents figure out a day to come do that?”
Good luck, and travel safe!