By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
I would argue that the most successful admissions counselors are able to get prospective students and parents to communicate more with them throughout the college search process than they do with their counterparts at other schools.
Besides cultivating trust, a big part of making that happen comes down to asking effective questions. These are questions where the student or parent reveals the why behind something. They do that because the question asks for their opinion or input, and thus they feel valued. Oftentimes they’ll even open up further and provide you with additional insights and useful information for future conversations.
In addition to knowing what kinds of questions to ask at various stages of the recruitment process, just as important is knowing how to effectively answer a question that comes from a student or parent…especially a yes/no question.
What do you do right now when you get one of those? If you just answer yes or no, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity.
Instead, I would recommend that when you’re asked a question, you should consider answering in the form of a question. Let me explain.
When a prospective student or parent asks you or one of your colleagues a question, it’s a sign that they’re interested in your school. I promise you, they’re not asking every college questions. That level of interest could be a lot, or it could be a little. Your job is to find out which one. Here’s how taking a different approach will help you to do that and more.
Let’s say a student asks you, “Do you offer campus tours on weekends?” The easy answer is, “Yes.” There’s nothing wrong with that response, but there’s a distinct possibility that the student won’t take any immediate action and thus you’ve helped to delay a possible visit.
If you answer differently, you can keep the process moving forward. The student has told you they’re interested in, or at least thinking about, making a campus visit. In your response back to them, I want you to confirm that this is in fact the case. You could say something like, “Are you thinking that a weekend visit to campus will work best for you?” If the student says yes, then your next step is to share the different weekend visit options your school offers and to ask what else they need to know/what else needs to happen before they will commit to a visit.
And if the student’s subsequent response tells you that they’ve all but decided on a date, go ahead and offer to help sign them up for that visit on the spot (if that’s possible) so that they know everything has been completed correctly. Worst case, schedule a time for a quick call with that student/family where you’ll walk them through the process of signing up.
Recognizing when to answer a question in the form of a question is an important skill that all college admission professionals need to learn. Understanding how to do that can be the difference between keeping the process moving forward and delaying it.
Let me also add that how you communicate your response (i.e. the tone and language you use) matters.
If you’ve got a question about today’s article, reply back and let’s talk about it.
Have a great week!