By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Here’s an assumption that a lot of colleges, universities, and admissions counselors are currently making when it comes to their admitted student population. They believe this group of students has everything they need to make their decision, so it’s okay slow down the communications and simply send them reminders to submit their deposit.
That’s the wrong assumption.
Remember, you’re dealing with young people who change their minds frequently, often make illogical, irrational decisions, and in many cases are scared to ask for help or say the wrong thing.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you and your colleagues to lead the conversation and ask direct, intentional questions throughout the entire college search process.
Having said that, let’s talk about a few important facts and truths around how your admitted students are feeling right now:
- They’re feeling extra stressed and more than a little overwhelmed. In a “normal” year, the majority of students become increasingly tired of the college search process the longer it goes on. They get tired of the emails, phone calls, and text messages from colleges and universities, as well as the questions from family members and friends. Now, combine that with online or hybrid learning and everything else that’s been different this year because of COVID. There’s value in acknowledging that stress and anxiety, and reminding them that you’re available to listen if they need to talk with someone. You also might ask them, “How are you feeling about making your college decision?”
- They’re scared of making the wrong decision. According to Tudor Collegiate Strategies ongoing survey research, this continues to be the number one fear for most students during their search. One way to help alleviate this fear is to share stories about your current students (namely your freshmen) and how they dealt with the same fear during their search. This can be done via personalized, ad hoc emails from their admissions counselor, or on social media platforms like Instagram thru takeovers and live chats.
- When they do think about their decision, feelings and emotions play an important role. Feelings and emotion almost always outweigh logic and facts. Students use the words “feel,” “felt,” and “feelings” time after time when we ask them why they chose their school. How are you generating positive emotions at this point? Think about the content and structure of your admitted student events, campus visits, as well as the messaging you’re providing both students and their parents/family. Does it feel personal and authentic, or does it feel pushy and purely transactional?
- They’re struggling to differentiate between the colleges and universities that are on their final list. Outside of cost and possibly location, how is your school different and why is your school better than their other choices? I talked about this in greater detail a couple of months back in this article. You need to continually define both those things for students, parents, and families in your communications and during your events.
- Some have your school at the top of their list, but their parents have unanswered questions/concerns and that’s slowing down the decision–making process. If you haven’t cultivated personal relationships with parents, start doing so immediately. You need to know how they’re feeling about the big college decision, and what, if anything, they need answered or explained as it relates to your school. The longer you wait to do this, the harder it will be to yield those students.
- Some families who can afford to pay more are struggling to figure out if your school is worth it. And the parents also want to know what paying more is going to get them. Identifying these families as early as possible is key. They’re usually the ones that when you have various conversations about cost and paying for college tell you that the parents will be paying everything, or they say something like, “Whatever the best fit is for Jeremy, we’ll find a way to make it work.” Once you’ve identified those students/families, it’s vital to clearly define and reiterate different parts of your school’s value proposition as it relates to things they care about most. Also, if you are the most expensive school on a student’s list, be ready to provide concrete examples and stories around why some of your current students chose to pay more, as well as the ROI of that decision.
- Some are ready to make a decision now…if you’ll just tell them your school wants them and then make the ask in a way that feels personal. Do you know who these students are? If you’re not sure, I would advise you to set up a quick 1-1 call with any students you think might fit the profile. Be prepared to ask them specific questions about their timeline and how/when they’re going to make their decision. Doing that will help you identify who may be ready as well as what’s holding some students back. Then you simply you need to remind them how important they are to your school, and ask for their commitment.
If you’ve got a question or comment about this article, just hit reply or click here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it on to someone else on your campus who you think might also benefit from reading it.