by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
One of the biggest questions that admissions directors approach me with is how to deliver a campus visit that exceeds a prospective student’s expectations. The reason for that is simple. A visit to your campus, and more specifically the “feel” of your campus, is the most important factor for just about every student on your list when it comes to making their college choice. Our ongoing focus group research on college and university campuses around the country confirms that statement time and time again.
Today, I want to focus on a part of the campus visit that can be extremely valuable for admissions counselors – asking effective questions after a student visits campus.
Most admissions counselors that we’ve worked with tend to slip into the mindset that once they’ve had a prospective student on campus all of the student’s questions have been answered. Wrong.
What you say to them in the first week after they visit, and the information you ask them, can not only help set you apart from your competition, but it can give you some of the best information possible during a critical point in the recruitment process.
In most cases, your recruit is ready to reveal an entirely new set of information and feelings to you following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them.
Here are 4 key questions we would recommend based on the focus group research we’ve compiled with this generation of students. I encourage you to use these going forward if you want to gain a deeper understanding of exactly what your prospect’s mindset is after they leave your campus.
“Walk me through what you see happening next for you in the college search process.” Our work with admissions departments indicates that in many cases once your prospect has visited your campus their internal agenda changes. What they thought they were going to do and how they felt before the visit has probably now changed. Smart recruiters should want that information so that they can adjust their recruiting strategy accordingly.
“Can you tell me a couple of big things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve been here.” The temptation for some counselors will be to let the student take a pass when they say something like, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure.” Don’t give in. Have them define what they would change about your campus now that they’ve seen it in person…even if they think it’s something small and meaningless. We’ve seen recruits use small discomforts at the end to justify why they aren’t going to choose your institution. It’s important that you have a firm grasp on what those are and then work to change your recruit’s mind through consistent recruiting communication.
“What did your parents say they liked about our campus and the visit?” The parents, as you know if you read this newsletter regularly or have had us on your campus to explain the details of a family’s decision making process, are key. You absolutely need to understand what they liked, or didn’t like, about the visit. Then you can develop a strategy as to how you’re going to recruit the parents during the late stages of the process.
“What other colleges are you talking with seriously at this point?” Don’t assume you know even if they told you a couple of weeks ago prior to their visit. Recruiting can change daily as does the mindset of a typical teenager. I want you to double check because many times we find that the list has changed.
Each of those four questions is important. Asking them after the campus visit will allow you to gain some incredible insights into how your prospects and parents are viewing, not only your institution, but for that matter you. Based on their answers, you can develop more effective questions that will help you determine what your next set of actions needs to be.
If you don’t ask any questions after the campus visit, you risk wasting all of your hard work up to that point. Oh, and if your school already does a post-visit survey that’s great, but I would still recommend you ask your recruits these kinds of effective questions. When you ask them personally it will help you build trust and continue to cultivate that all-important recruiting relationship.
WANT EVEN MORE? If you’d like some effective questions I’d recommend that you ask the parents after the campus visit, simply email me: firstname.lastname@example.org