By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
During a workshop I led last Friday, one of the things we discussed was personalizing the campus visit experience.
Part of that has to do with what you do, or don’t do, in the days following a student’s visit (i.e. your post-visit strategy). And by post-visit strategy, I’m not talking about sending a handwritten “thank you for visiting” note. That’s a nice touch, but there’s more to it than that if your goal is to continue to keep the process moving forward with that student.
As I explained to both the admissions staff and performing arts leadership during the aforementioned workshop, no student leaves a campus visit feeling the same way about that school as when they arrived. They’re either more excited or disappointed.
That’s why it’s extremely important for admissions counselors to ask targeted questions as part of their post-visit strategy. Doing so can provide counselors with some of the best information possible during a critical point in the student recruitment process. In most cases, the student will reveal all kinds of new information about their timeline as well as new feelings (both likes and dislikes) they may have following their visit to your campus…but only if you ask them the right kinds of questions.
Before I give you some targeted questions to use, let me start by addressing when and how this follow-up conversation should take place.
A lot of counselors tell me they meet with students/families after the walking tour or near the end of the visit. Their tendency is to immediately say something like, “So what did you think, Jeremy?” That eventually leads to some version of, “What questions can I answer for you now?” This strategy isn’t wrong, but my advice is to avoid this line of questioning at that time. Most students are still trying to process everything they just saw along with all of the information they received and conversations they had throughout the day.
Instead, my recommendation is that during your conversation with the student you make it clear that you know it was a busy day with a lot of people and a lot of information, so you want to give them a little time to process everything and talk things over as a family. Discuss setting up a short phone call together in the next 2-3 days and make it clear that the goal of that phone call will be to answer any questions they have and to discuss the student’s next steps. Make it a goal to schedule that call before they leave campus.
Here are some questions that I’ve recommended to admissions counselors that have produced valuable, actionable information. Consider asking the student one or more of these:
- Can you walk me through what happens next for you?
- What are one or two things that you wish you could change about our campus now that you’ve seen it?
- What did your parents say about the visit when you talked with them?
- What are your parents telling you to do at this point in the process?
- What was the worst part of your visit here?
- Did your visit here change how you feel about <Your school name>?
- Are you planning to visit any other colleges soon?
- What do you think the best part about living on our campus would be?
- Would you be interested in coming back to campus later this year for a different event?
- If you came back for another visit here, what would you want to see or experience again?
- What do you want to see us talk about next?
- Are you ready to take the next step in the process with us?
And if you have an opportunity to speak with the parent(s), consider asking one or more of these questions:
- What advice did you give <Student name> after the visit?
- What did you talk about the most as a family on the way home?
- What were the biggest positives about our campus that stuck out to you?
- What surprised you the most about our campus?
- What do you see as the next step in this process for <Student name>?
Each one of these questions will allow you to gain some insights into how the student and their family are now viewing your school. Based on the answers you receive, you can then determine what your next set of actions needs to be.
Good luck, and enjoy the rest of your week!
P.S. Growing the campus visit program (i.e. adding more tour guides, hiring someone whose sole job is to manage the tour guides and your events, and increasing the amount of training that’s provided for tour guides) is one of FOUR RECRUITING STRATEGIES I believe we’ll see more of in college admissions and higher ed over the next few years. The other three?
I believe social media, specifically current student VLOGs, will grow in popularity and become part of an effective digital communication strategy.
I believe that colleges will create specific student advisory groups to offer feedback on specific recruitment projects. As an example, I talked to a social media manager the other day that created an influencer project team at her school this year designed to identify social media influencers.
And I believe that the number of colleges offering and investing in Esports programs will grow significantly.