by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Last week I kicked off my 2015-16 campus workshop tour with a trip to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” (Aka Minnesota). Right now I’m currently leading a workshop for an admissions client in the Northeast. The next two weeks I’ll be visiting and working with colleges in the Great Plains.
Each of those trips involves a visit to my local airport (IND). That means I’ll be submitting to multiple security checks from the wonderful folks at the TSA. I’ve been patted, scanned and questioned. I’ve been scolded when I put more than one item in a bin before sliding it into the x-ray machine. During last week’s trip they asked if I remembered to remove my belt before entering the body scanner.
Do you have an insurance policy? Do you get an annual check-up? Do you get a little nervous when a Friday the 13th rolls around?
It’s all about our fear of fear.
Now let’s apply this to your prospects who in many cases have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.
If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.
They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear. They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong. Sounds crazy, right? That’s whom you’re recruiting. That’s why your prospect avoids fear, and why it’s sometimes so hard for you to do your job as a recruiter.
With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for schools around the country that are TCS clients.
- Focus on their feeling of being fearful. It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle. Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
- Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit? (If you chose the teenage recruit, go back to the beginning of the article). Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation! It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the idea of choosing a college?”
- Tell them what you think they’re thinking. Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about, and see if they agree with you or not. It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking. Is it confusing and a little sad? Yes. Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.
These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.
Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruiting process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust.
Are your early recruiting letters and emails generating a high response rate from this next class of prospects? They need to be if you’re going to deliver on your prospects’ wants and needs. We can help. Call me directly at 612-386-0854 to learn more.