By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
A lot of the emails that colleges and universities send prospective students and families continue to be filled with generalized facts, figures, phrases, and features of their campus, academic programs, etc. The same thing is also happening more and more during virtual information sessions and events.
You know the stats and phrases I’m talking about. Things like your faculty to student ratio, “96% of our students are employed or continuing their education…” and phrases like “experiential learning,” “professors who care,” and a “welcoming community.”
The problem with all that is, your competitors are saying the exact same things, and the students you’re trying to attract not only notice it, but they’re becoming increasingly frustrated and confused.
“Stop with all the mass emails and flyers that say the same thing. It’s not helpful and it quickly becomes annoying. We do not need a lot of the same information that is on your website.”
That quote (and a lot of others just like it) continue to show up in our focus group surveys when we ask students to give admissions counselors some advice about communicating with this generation of students.
If you continue with this approach, you’re making the college search harder, not easier.
Instead of telling prospective students what you have in an email, letter, on the phone, or as part of your virtual info session, explain how that aspect of your student experience is different, and why it’s better at your school. That’s what they want more of.
I’m not saying you should speak negatively about other schools or all out brag about being ranked higher or better at something. Instead, I want you to do a better job of telling your school’s story when it comes to topics like your academic environment, campus life, and outcomes.
Telling a better story includes using direct quotes from your newer students to make key points in your messages, as well as having those same current students be the primary speakers during your virtual events. Focus on explaining things like…
- How your professors demonstrate they care, and why is being a part of smaller class sizes an advantage.
- How your campus community helps new students adjust to the academic and social side of college.
- Why the resources your school offers are better than the other choices students are considering.
- What is it about your location that students love/value so much? Where do they go hangout off campus or on weekends?
Without that context and those stories it’s incredibly difficult for prospective students and families to justify why they should take the next step in the process with you (including the last big step of breaking a tie in your school’s favor). Instead, they’ll continue to rely on things like which college has the bigger name, is closer to home, is the ones their friends are going to (or applying to), has the newest dorms, or is the least expensive option.
You can re-frame the conversation. Consistently take the approach I’ve outlined and you’ll see an immediate difference in the way students begin to picture you, and, more importantly, how they define your school compared with the competition.
If this article was helpful, go ahead and forward it to someone else on your campus who you think might benefit from reading it.
And if you’re interested in more articles like this with tips and strategies you can use right now, you can find them here in our Admissions BLOG.