By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
I continue to find that many college admissions and enrollment management professionals are, by nature, an impatient, process-oriented group.
As soon as you start communicating more with the next group of prospective students, there’s a constant push to secure a campus visit or to get them to apply as soon as possible once your application officially opens.
Here’s the problem with that approach. Instead of getting those nervous and confused students comfortable enough to talk with you and share how they’re feeling about different things, all that transactional rushing is actually driving many of them away from paying attention to what you’re sending.
The solution? I want you to put a larger focus on creating an easy conversation at the start of the process. Aim to start building a real relationship with your students. And understand that real relationships require patience.
Now, you might be thinking, “But Jeremy we have to get them to visit campus because it’s a difference maker when they do.”
I get it, and I’m not saying the campus visit isn’t extremely important…it 100% is. But for most students there’s a process that leads them to want to visit your school, especially when that’s what every other college is telling them to do as well.
We continue to find that for most students scheduling a time to visit campus is a decision that requires multiple, personalized conversations with their admissions counselor or one or more people who can provide context about various aspects of your student experience.
Slow down and figure out how to get their attention and start a conversation. This is even more important when you’re talking with sophomores and juniors. As our founder Dan Tudor says, “When you rush the process, you cheapen the process.”
Here are three effective tactics to help you get started:
- Keep your initial messages short, and don’t try to sell your college or university at all. Instead, humanize the situation, make it clear you want to help, and prove that you’re interested in who they are, what they’re looking for, and what they want out of the process.
- Focus on getting answers to key questions like where they’re at in their process; how they’re feeling when they think about college; what they think they want (and don’t want); and what’s really confusing or frustrating about all of this.
- Building on that last bullet point of asking effective questions that are direct, if you want to approach the campus visit topic a little more covertly, ask them if they’ve taken any college visits yet. If the answer is yes, ask them to share something that really got their attention during another visit. If the answer is no, ask them to explain why not.
Our ongoing research continues to show that when you listen to your target audience and play by their rules, you’re going to like the results.
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.