By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
College and universities love to share all kinds of facts and figures when they communicate with prospective students.
The problem with that strategy is, facts tell and stories and feelings sell.
To be clear, I’m not saying that facts aren’t helpful for students during their college search. They are, when presented correctly, oftentimes through the current student lens and different stories.
Anytime you offer facts as a value point of your school, it’s important that you take the extra step and explain to each group of students you’re working with exactly how they will personally benefit from what you’re sharing with them. In the workshops I lead, I refer to this as “connecting the dots.”
Our ongoing survey research continues to find that most students don’t make these connections on their own. So, I want you to do it for them.
When you’re able to do this in a relatable, authentic way, more often than not you gain a distinct advantage over other schools who either don’t know how to, or don’t think it’s important.
The end result oftentimes is positive feelings, which matter because students continue to rely on those feelings to help them understand why they should take the next step with your school.
But which facts are really worth talking about? Here are four that students rate as very important in their college decision.
- How your college or university will help make the transition to college life easier and less stressful. What programs and people does your school have in place to help new students in the two main areas of transition: academically and socially. Share stories about the different programs, resources, and services your school offers, and how those things will make it easier for them to fit in, feel comfortable, and feel supported as a new student.
- Your dorms and campus life. Believe it or not, you don’t need the newest and biggest dorms to win over students. Instead, you need to make sure they understand why your current students love your campus life and dorm community, and how that atmosphere will positively impact their day-to-day living. That includes talking about the role of your RA or RD’s, as well as different traditions and events that take place throughout the year.
- The food on campus. Every school has a dining facility and other options to grab on the go. You need to prove how yours are different and why yours are better. For example, maybe you bring in celebrity chefs from time to time or maybe your food is locally sourced. Maybe have an eco-friendly dining hall, a unique “student choice” option where every semester students vote on menu changes, or you offer 600 menu items daily. Maybe it’s just the fact that you have a Starbucks on campus. Whatever it is, prove to prospective students that they will eat well and you’ll move up their list.
- How a degree from your school will help them after they graduate. A lot of admissions counselors talk about the academic strengths of their school and the value of their school’s degree. The problem is they offer generalized statements like, “97% of recent graduates are employed or continuing their education within six months of graduating.” That’s better than nothing, but there needs to be more. It’s imperative that you prove to prospective students and their parents via real-life examples how your school is going to effectively prepare them to find and successfully start whatever career they’re interested in. What does the student journey look like? In our ongoing survey research, graduation outcomes continue to rank as one of the top five most important factors in a student’s final decision.
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