by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
“Apps and visit numbers are up!”
I’ve been hearing those words a lot lately during my conversations with various college admission leaders.
Getting a prospective student to complete your application and/or visit campus demonstrates a real level interest on their behalf. Both are important “yeses” in the student recruitment puzzle.
I’ve talked before about the importance of gaining agreement through small wins or as I like to call them, “little yeses.” Once you get enough of those, it makes asking for the big yes (i.e. their commitment to enroll at your college) a hundred times easier.
But, if you want to consistently get that big yes, you’re going to have to try to get your prospect to say “no” to you more often.
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Stick with me here because this is a strategy that will help you keep things moving forward with those students that have demonstrated real interest in attending your college.
It’s been proven that this generation is driven by fear. And that means in many cases they continue to have very little apprehension when it comes to not exactly telling admission counselors the whole truth.
So, unless a counselor understands how to create urgency and ask effective, targeted questions, most will sit back and wait not wanting to be pushy and feeling that their school is in great shape. The problem is you end up losing more students than you anticipated because many were never telling you the whole truth to begin with.
My recommendation if you want to avoid this is to aggressively search out the “no”.
I firmly believe that throughout the recruitment process you should put your prospect in a position of having to tell you “no” more often…especially in the middle and later stages.
Assuming I’ve sold you on the general idea of getting your prospects who have demonstrated real interest to say “no,” here’s what I want you to do next.
Put together a list of every single prospect (those who will make a decision this cycle) that has demonstrated real interest in your college up to this point. By real interest I mean things like they’ve visited campus, completed your application, taken action in response to an email, phone call, or text message, or they’ve scored highly in your predictive modeling formula if you use such a thing.
Now, if I asked you to tell me what the one thing is that may prevent each of those students from enrolling at your college, do you know what the answer is? It could be a number of different things. And don’t just guess “cost” if you aren’t sure. If a student hasn’t told you something specific, it’s time to search out that “no.”
Go ahead and ask each of those students, “If you were going to tell me no at the end of this process, what do you think would be the #1 reason why you’d do that?”
If “cost” is their answer, immediately ask a follow-up question like, “Help me understand that better.” You need to get them to explain the why behind that answer because both Dan (Tudor) and I continue to find that many students just default to saying “cost” because it’s the easy way out.
Once you have that answer, it’s now your job to come up with a strategy to help the student, parent(s), or the entire family overcome their objection or fear.
And by the way, it’s very rare for a student or family member not to have an objection (big or small) or fear about every single college that’s under serious consideration. Whether they choose to tell you about it or not depends on the recruiting relationship that you have or have not created and cultivated up to this point.
If you have a question about this article or you’d like my feedback on a specific situation you’re dealing with, email me right now.
You can follow me on Social Media here: