By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Over the last few weeks I’ve had a lot of yield related conversations with both our TCS college partners, as well as other admissions counselors and enrollment management leaders.
Here are some of the big points that we’ve discussed:
- At this point in the process it’s less about giving your admitted students more information, facts and figures, and more about sharing stories and creating opportunities for engagement and connections – with your admissions counselors, current students, and other staff members. This doesn’t just happen in person, but also through different emails, text messages and phone calls, as well as video content on your social media platforms and your website. Relationships and feelings will continue to play a significant role in almost every student’s decision-making.
- Proactive and personalized outreach to different ‘micro groups’ within your admitted student population should be a daily thing. Key groups to message include new admits, admits who recently received their financial aid package, admits who are signed up for an admitted student event, and admits who recently attend an admitted student event (on or off campus). The goal of your outreach should be to create an opportunity for engagement by asking different direct and intentional questions (not “Let me know if you have any questions” or something similar) that uncover how they’re feeling about some aspect of your school, the event they attended, or their college decision. It’s harder to know how to best guide a student and prepare to make ‘the ask’ if you don’t get them to engage.
- When you replace some of your deposit link call to-actions with those direct questions, here are some you should consider asking – “What are you hoping to see or hear about when you come to campus?’; “When you were here for admitted student day, what was one thing you saw that surprised you?”; “How are you feeling about making your college decision?”; “What do you have left to before you make your decision?”; “When do you see yourself making your decision?”; “When you think about being a student at <Your College’s Name>, what are you excited about most?”; “What’s the biggest concern you have about <Your College’s Name>?” Be prepared to ask follow-up questions as a way to keep the conversation going and to gain more context from the student. And, be prepared to take the feedback you receive and figure out ways to add value and/or alleviate fears and concerns. To do both of those things effectively you will need to be an active listener.
- Engage the parents of your admitted students in a way that feels personal (i.e. Don’t just CC them on student messaging). If you do nothing else, do this. Ask them the same kinds of questions I shared earlier (but from a parent point of view) with the goal of understanding their mindset and what they need from you that would help with the decision-making process. We continue to find that in a lot of cases parents take an overly active role at the end of the decision-making process with colleges that are being seriously considered. When you ask effective questions, oftentimes the quality and depth of a parent’s answer allows you to uncover discrepancies between what they’re thinking compared to what the student is thinking.
- Making the ask. This is a core part of every admissions counselors’ job and I continue to find that way too many aren’t intentionally asking for the deposit/decision in a way that feels personal. Sending messages with your deposit link is fine, but there has to be more of a balance between the transactional and relational if ‘the ask’ is going to be successful. Before I give you language to use, it’s important to first determine that a student/family has all the information they need to make an informed decision. Whenever possible get them to verbalize that to you. You can make the ask a number of different ways, but we continue to find that this language works particularly well – “How do you feel about committing to <Your College’s Name or acronym> today?” If you don’t receive a favorable response, be prepared to ask for context and determine what’s holding the student back. You can make the ask in-person at your events, in an email, in a text message (don’t include your deposit link in a text), or over the phone or on video chat.
If you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.
And if you’re looking for more tips and strategies to improve your Admitted Student events, check out another recent article I wrote.