By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
That’s literally what the first line of the email said when I opened it last week. It came from a Director of Admissions in the South, and a regular reader of this newsletter. Her school is slightly ahead year over year in both admits and deposits, and she’s worried that melt is going to be a big problem because, well there is no real plan in place there to prevent it.
Unfortunately I know her school isn’t alone. In fact I’ve had similar conversations with a handful of other colleges these past few weeks. Plus I’ve seen the same melt statistics that I’m sure you have, which aren’t positive.
Your communications strategy for committed/deposited students should contain more than just a few emails talking about signing up for housing, summer orientation, and registering for classes. Consistent communication with this group is essential. Slowing down communications after a student makes their decision is a big mistake, and it’s one that will definitely impact your yield in a negative way.
So, I’m going to share with you in this week’s article what I’ve shared with them. Take these tips and strategies and run with them, or use them to start a conversation in your office now. But whatever you do, please don’t wait until April or May.
Here are five proven strategies on how to effectively manage this crucial time frame:
- Continue to provide them with reasons why your school was a great choice, and what they have to look forward to as a student there. These communications should be sent via email, and they should all come from their admissions counselor. My recommendation is about two emails per month until a week or two before school begins. Let me back up for a second. It should be explained at some point soon after they deposit or verbally make it clear that they plan to be a student at your school, that their admissions counselor will continue to stay in touch and be their “go-to person” until school begins. Now, in terms of content for those emails, remind them about things like the benefits of your school’s location; school traditions they’ll soon be a part of; opportunities to join clubs and organizations; how your school will help them transition not only academically, but socially; and why they’ll enjoy their classes and professors so much. As you’re doing this, make sure your tone is consistent (i.e. you understand they’ve made a decision).
- Only include one call to action in any communication you send. That’s a good general rule of thumb at any stage of the college recruitment process. Students often feel overwhelmed by all the forms and information colleges ask for. So, in terms of next steps, go one at a time, and make them as easy and straightforward as possible.
- Mix in some text messages. Unless the student has told you that they don’t want to receive text messages from your school (you should definitely ask if you haven’t by this point because almost 30% of students continue to tell us in surveys they never wanted a text from a college), texting a monthly reminder or sending some words of encouragement are valuable. Make sure the reminder is something that’s easy to take in and do and won’t lead to a bunch of additional questions. And in terms of words of encouragement, it could be something as simple as, “Was thinking of you today Jeremy when I was talking to some current students. Can’t wait for you to get here and experience (blank).”
- Use social media to show what’s happening on and off campus. Instagram and YouTube are the ideal place to show what your current students are doing this time of year…or any other time. Show the fun hang out spots or study places on and off campus. Have a current freshman or two talk about what their first year has been like so far. Was it what they expected? What advice would they give this fall’s incoming class? And if your school puts on any special events during finals, showcase those and have your students talk about why they enjoy them.
- Make sure you’re still talking to the parent(s).You could send a monthly parent email or letter, or even set up a quick phone call. This helps to guarantee that everybody is on the same page in terms of next steps. It also helps to remind the parent(s) that their admissions counselor is still available to answer any questions they have, and it reinforces the idea that even though their child has committed/deposited, they’re still a priority.
If this article was helpful, I encourage you to forward it on to another colleague on your campus. And if you have more questions about melt, let’s start a conversation. Talking is free. You can connect with me here.