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:
“Hi Jeremy, I hope you are doing well. Thank you for taking the time to read my question. What do you know about students’ preferred time to make college visits? Do they prefer weekends, weekdays, holidays, or summer? We are trying to tailor our campus visits to best meet the needs of the students. It’s no secret how important it is for prospective students to set foot on a college campus they are considering attending, and making sure that piece of the process is as refined as possible is what we are trying to do. Thank you very much for your consideration.”
A. Thank you for your question! It’s hard for me to give you a definitive answer because at the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal preference, and those preferences can change based on a host of different factors.
Remember that when planning a campus visit families have to take into account things like school restrictions, work/vacation schedules, homework, sports and activities, childcare, etc. And I didn’t even mention travel expenses (gas, airfare, hotel, food, etc).
Because time is such an important factor in everything we do, giving each prospect/parent a concrete reason why they should visit your campus is more important than ever. Is everybody in your office consistently doing that right now?
Keeping that in mind, I would recommend you try to avoid summer visits (and holidays) and here’s why. During those times, you’re almost always missing one key ingredient – your current students. There’s less energy on campus and you have fewer opportunities to create emotional connections.
I understand that summer visits are unavoidable in some cases, so here are three things for that timeframe that I would recommend:
- Make it a shorter visit
- Work in extra 1 on 1 time with the prospect and their parent(s)
- Talk about the importance of getting them back on campus during the school year
At the end of the day, I believe you need to offer multiple visit options and encourage more weekday and weekend visits…unless you’re a “suitcase college” in which case weekend visits will present many of the same challenges that summer visits do. Regardless of when you offer a visit day there will always be obstacles. Figure out what those are based on your location, student body, etc and adjust as best you can.
I’d also encourage you, if you haven’t done this already, to take your visit data from the past 2 or 3 years and see if there’s a clear time preference among the different demographics you’re targeting.
The last piece of advice I want to give you is a simple but important reminder. Prospective students go to a college campus expecting to receive personal attention. How are you making sure from start to finish that they feel “important,” and that they leave campus with the information they want and need.
Good luck! And you’ve given me an idea for some survey research in the next year so stay tuned.