By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
College admission departments throw them around all the time. The “them” I’m talking about are facts.
Admissions counselors and tour guides use facts to sell their college or university, and they brag about facts in an attempt to separate their school from their competitors.
But which facts are really worth talking about, and which ones do prospective students care less about? Like it or not, some of those facts just take up space in your marketing materials and recruiting communications. I’d even argue that some facts that you present actually hurt your recruiting efforts.
While this generation of students does rely on facts about a college or university to form their overall opinion of the school, we’ve found that it’s most effective when admissions counselors and tour guides tie those facts directly to a benefit the student will receive.
Let me reiterate that again. When you state a fact as a selling point of your institution, it’s so important that you take the extra step and explain to your prospect or their parent(s) exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact. That’s real personalization. Plus our ongoing research continues to find that many prospects don’t usually “connect the dots” between the benefits that your school offers and what it means for them personally.
When you’re able to communicate facts that will personally benefit a prospective student, or even get them to visualize themselves experiencing that benefit on your campus, more often than not you gain a distinct advantage over other schools who either don’t know how to effectively do that or don’t think it’s important.
If done correctly, the end result is positive feelings which matter because students continue to rely on those feelings to help them make their final decision.
With all of that in mind, here are 4 facts that we’re seeing prospective students rate as very important in their decision-making process:
- Your on-campus housing. Believe it or not, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to make a positive gain in the mind of your prospects. Instead, you need to make sure they understand why your current students love your campus and dorm community and how that atmosphere will positively impact their day-to-day living. When your current students showcase what happens in the dorms on social media, it can be extremely ROI positive. Don’t over think it; just encourage them to show “day in the life” stuff. That’s what prospective students continue to tell us they want to see more of.
- The food on campus. Every school has a dining facility. You need to prove how yours is different and why yours is better. For example, maybe you have an eco-friendly dining hall or a unique “student choice” option where every semester students vote on menu changes. Prove to prospective students that they will eat well, and you’ll move up the list.
- How a degree at your school will trump a degree at another school. Every admissions counselor in the country loves to talk about the academic strengths of his or her school and the value of their school’s degree. I’m here to remind you that you’d better be ready to prove it to your prospect (and their parents) with real-life examples as to how your school is going to better prepare them to find and successfully start whatever career they’re interested in. Outcomes are quickly becoming the more important college ranking.
- How your school will help make the transition to college life easier and less stressful. What programs and people does your school have in place to help new students in the two main areas of transition: academic and social. Can you effectively explain how it will be easy for them to “fit in” and “feel comfortable?”
If your admissions staff and tour guides commit themselves to taking the approach of placing emphasis on facts like these 4 things, and they tie those facts personally to each student, your school will gain a recruiting advantage.
There are just over two weeks left until the NACAC National Conference in Boston…Are you going? If so, make sure you stop by Booth 311 and say hi.