By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Always remember that the college search process for a student is exactly that, a process.
Too many colleges and universities are continuing to try and skip steps. They’re pushing prospective students to visit campus and/or complete their school’s application before the student feels ready to do so. Sometimes that works, but typically those students struggle if they get admitted to understand what really makes that school different from the others on their list.
The end result is a longer, drawn-out decision, something that we’ve seen a lot more of the past couple of years.
It’s important to take your time and lead prospective students through the process of understanding all the different reasons why they should want to choose your school over the other colleges on their list.
That involves persuasion and patience…sometimes a lot of patience.
You need to begin to lay the groundwork for agreement in the early stages. More on that in a minute. Just remember, “closing” begins the moment a student enters your system.
Consistent personalized communication and being more intentional with the questions you ask is one of the most effective strategies you can use to gain the agreement of students and their parents during the college search process.
Each time you gain agreement, consider that a small win. During the training workshops I lead I refer to these as “little yeses.”
When you get a prospective student (or their parent) to offer agreement to something versus you telling them what they should do/think, they’re more likely to fully complete the next step (whatever that might be).
The more small wins you get throughout the process, the greater your confidence level should be that they’ll choose your school in the end.
Let me give you some examples of small wins or little yeses:
- Getting the student to reply back to an email with the answer to a question you asked.
- Getting the student to agree to set up a phone call with you.
- Getting the student to apply to your college before the deadline.
- Getting the student/family to complete the FAFSA.
- Getting the parent(s) and student to agree to talk with you about cost and paying for college.
- Getting the student to tell you that your campus “felt” better than other schools they visited.
- Getting the student to agree that your college’s small class sizes and extra access to professors would be a good fit for them.
- Getting the student to agree that your college’s location is going to be a plus.
- Getting the student to verbalize the differences they see between your school and other colleges they’re also still considering.
- Getting the parent(s) to agree that your campus is a safe environment.
- Getting the student or parent(s) to tell you they’re ready to talk about the next step.
- Getting a junior to agree to talk to their parents about visiting campus.
I want you to have the goal of gaining a small win or a little yes every time you interact with a prospective student (or parent).
As I touched on earlier, the more agreements you get, the easier it will be for you to eventually ask for the big yes (i.e. their commitment/deposit).
Let me know if you need help implementing this idea.
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