By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Last week I had a Zoom chat with an Admissions Counselor who recently started her role with one of our college partner schools.
She had just finished reading my article about college fairs, and while thinking about her first high school visits that were coming up, she wanted to get my advice on how to handle a couple of different situations.
One of those involved what to do when you have a group of students, who despite being encouraged to engage, aren’t really saying anything.
Remember, most students have no idea what questions they’re supposed to ask in that environment, and, as I’ve talked about in previous articles, many are also scared about saying the wrong thing.
The counselor and I talked through the concept of not just leading the conversation, but also leading with relevant information…which as you might imagine is harder to do when students are being quiet.
This is where our ongoing Tudor Collegiate Strategies survey data comes in handy. It’s helpful to know what topics the masses care about most, especially when they’re doing their college research.
Over the past 5 years, besides a college having the academic major or program that a student is interested in, here are (in order) the top three topics that the majority of traditional students want information about next:
- Financial Aid
- Careers related to the major or program they’re interested in
- Student life and activities
Let’s expand on each one a little because what I don’t what you to do is start word vomiting a bunch of numbers and stats or making generalized, vanilla statements that sound like what a lot of other colleges and universities are saying.
Financial aid – That might include a discussion of the term “sticker price” and what your school does to help bring down the cost that students initially see and make it more affordable. Can you share what the average first year student is paying at your school? Is tuition the same every year or does it change? What about things like textbooks, laundry, parking, and resources like tutoring – are those free or extra expenses? How does the meal plan work? You also might touch on the difference between scholarships and grants, and explain which ones are one year and which ones are renewable. And if you work for a private college or university, you could share stories of current students (or possibly your own story) who made the decision to make an investment in your school when they had less expensive options. What gave them the confidence to do that, and was there someone at your school who was really helpful in walking them through what that would look like and the different financial options available to them.
Careers related to their major or program of interest – Students want to know what kinds of jobs recent graduates have started, what companies they’re working for, and if you’ve got the data, what’s the average starting salary? They also want a better understanding of how your school will prepare them for life after graduation. What campus resources exist, and who are some of the people that will prepare and support them? How about internships and other hands-on opportunities? When do those happen, and what do those look like within the major or program the student is thinking about?
Student life and activities – What do your students do for fun when they’re not in class (on and off campus)? What are some of the clubs and orgs that exist? What are the fun traditions and popular events that take place during the year? How would students describe your campus community and the atmosphere? Is it inclusive?
Anytime you have a group of students, particularly a group that isn’t saying much, the key is finding ways to talk about things that the majority have an interest in.
Make each topic relatable and helpful, and do your best to encourage engagement by asking students direct questions. If they still don’t speak up, tell them what you typically hear from other students when you ask the same question – then ask for their thoughts.
Finally, if you happen to work in enrollment communications or marketing, make sure those three topics appear early in your communication flow.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said I’m happy to connect. Simply reply back, 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.