By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Let me start by wishing you a Happy Halloween! It sounds like many of us will need an extra layer of clothing to trick or treat tonight or possibly an umbrella.
In today’s article, I want to revisit a super important topic that still doesn’t get enough attention during the college search process. When I presented on it earlier this year at our National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, I called my session “The other 4-letter F word.” That topic is fear.
We all have fears and things that scare us. The students you’re recruiting are no different. Undergrad, transfer, adult, or even online learners, they’ve all got them…namely the fear of making the wrong decision (again).
Why is it then that many college admission professionals rarely bring this topic up? I wanted to know, so I’ve been asking that question throughout 2017. The most popular answers seem to be either a) there are more important things to talk about, or b) they don’t know when/how to talk about it.
I implore you to please make this topic a part of your regular recruiting conversation with prospects (and parents). I’m making this plea not just because I think it’s important to talk about fear, but because your target audience continues to tell me via surveys and face-to-face conversations that it’s important to them. They want help with this and if you don’t give it to them it’s going to either hold them back or at the least delay them from taking the next step in the process with your school.
Here’s what I want you to do (if you haven’t done this already). Ask each student in your territory what scares him or her the most about the college search process. Do it in your next email, letter, phone call, or text message.
Let me add that your chances of getting a true answer drop if you haven’t established some rapport and trust yet with the person you’re asking.
And if you’re wondering what kinds of responses you’re likely to get when you ask that question about fear, here’s what I’m hearing/seeing lately:
- Scared of writing the college essay.
- Scared of making a campus visit because the college is too close to home (afraid it will be an extension of high school) OR because the college is too far from home (afraid they won’t find a support system once they get there).
- Scared of having a conversation about cost (students and parents). Crossing colleges off the list early on because there’s no way that school can be affordable.
- Scared of fitting in and living with a roommate.
- Scared of what others around them will think if they apply to a college with a lesser-known name.
- Scared to tell a college they don’t understand what to do next in the process.
Determining what your prospects are scared of and then explaining, or coming up with a plan to explain, how you and others at your college can help alleviate that will give you a major advantage over your competitors.
Remember, fear is a big driver in a person’s decision-making process. That’s a fact!
If you need help creating a conversation about this topic, I’m happy to offer advice. The question is will your fear of asking hold you back?
Have a great week!
P.S. If you’re going to the AMA Higher Ed conference in Atlanta in two weeks, I’d love to connect. I’ll be in town for about 36 hours with the plan of doing nothing but meetings and meet-ups. Email me here so we can schedule a time to talk.