This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development. Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.
Q. An Admissions Counselor asks:
“Who/what is the greatest influence for saying yes to a school?”
A. Thank you for your question! It just so happens that one of the survey questions we ask incoming or current freshmen prior to my leading an admissions training workshop for a school is:
“On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being NOT important at all and 10 being VERY important), rate the importance of these different factors in terms of how they influenced you to choose (school name) over other colleges.”
Before I reveal the top two factors based on over two and a half years of focus group research, I think it’s important to give you a little context. 71% of the schools where we’ve conducted surveys are private institutions and 29% are public colleges or universities.
The most important factor that influences the final decision is – The “feel” of campus. It ranks number one with an average score of 8.29 out of 10.
The second most important factor is – How the admissions staff treated me throughout the process. It ranks number two with an average score of 7.79 out of 10.
Both of these consistently beat out thirteen other factors such as perception of the college as a whole, what I thought of the academic reputation, affordability, and location.
Now that you know this, my recommendations to you are:
- Thoroughly evaluate your campus visit programs, admitted student day events, and the training that you provide to your tour guides
- Understand the importance of creating and cultivating a recruiting relationship between each admissions counselor and a prospective student/family
As for the “who,” if your intuition is their parents, you’re spot on. I continue to be amazed by the number of admissions offices that are still not doing a good enough job of connecting with their prospect’s biggest influencer(s). Our research from students found that over 90% of them said their parents played a significant role in their final decision.