By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Considering how hard it is to get and keep the attention of young people these days, it’s important to know which words and phrases to avoid.
Over the past few years I’ve shared many of them with you, but there are two phrases that a lot of admissions counselors continue to use that provide little to no benefit for them. These phrases have already come up during two of the three yield workshops I’ve led this month, so let’s take a few minutes and talk about them.
For some of you this will simply be an important reminder, but for most it’s something you may not even realize you’re doing.
The problem is, when you say these words together, you don’t encourage or create any action, and you risk slowing down the decision-making process, or worse, stopping it altogether.
Those phrases are:
“I was just calling to…” AND “I just wanted to check in and see…”
Have you used one or both of those lately?
Admissions counselors (and student callers) use them quite often at the beginning of a phone call, as well as in an email or a text message.
What is it about “I was just” or “I just wanted to” that makes it such a negative? It’s simple. When you use those words, students all know what you’re really asking for – You want to know something.
And, since you don’t want to feel like you’re pressuring students, you slide into the conversation by using those words. Just remember:
- It’s not the truth. You weren’t just “checking in” when you called, emailed, or texted. You were trying to figure out why they haven’t finished their application or the FAFSA; you want to know if they plan to come to your campus event; or you want to know where your school stands and when they will make their college decision.
- Those words convey weakness. There isn’t much energy behind either phrase, and as I touched on earlier, in a lot of cases you actually give that student (or parent) the unintended message that they don’t need to take action right now. It gives them permission to put you off. If you say something like, “I was just calling to see if you’ve finished your application?” They might respond, “Not yet, I’ve just been so busy with school and stuff.” And, since it sounds like there’s no urgency on your part, they figure they’ve got more time, and it’s no big deal.
Instead of using those phrases, I want you to use language like this:
- “The deadline for that scholarship form is coming up soon <Student name>, and I want to make sure that you don’t miss it. You’re important to us!”
- “Filling out the FAFSA is one of the best ways to make college less expensive for you and your family.”
- “A lot of students tell me they’re scared and overwhelmed at this point. Are you feeling the same way?”
- “Have you been trying to figure out how you’re going to pick your college? It’s definitely not an easy decision, but I’ve got some information that I know will help you.”
Each of those phrases is strong, and they’re going to prompt action. Specifically, they’re going to encourage engagement and/or a response.
If you’re using those words to connect with cold inquiries or students that you’ve never spoken with, here’s a better strategy that continues to work well for many of our clients – create a short, personalized and direct email or text message that conveys you’ve tried to connect with them in multiple ways and you’re wondering if this means they’re not interested in your school anymore and you should stop contacting them…or maybe they’re just overwhelmed and need some help.
Language like that typically results in one of two things. They either won’t reply, and you won’t be stressed out wondering if they will contact you eventually, or they’ll email or text back and apologize for not responding. It’s a win-win for you.
One final tip – if you’re searching for a better reason to get admitted, undecided students to actually answer the phone, tell them that you’ve been talking with other students who aren’t sure how they’ll make their college decision. Add that you’ve got some tips that will help them with this process.
Implementing one or more of these strategies will result in a much better ROI for you.
If today’s article was helpful, I encourage you to forward it on to a colleague that you think might also benefit from it. And, if you adjust your approach I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Shoot me a quick email or tweet me @CoachTiers
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