by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Recruiting at a high level is hard work. It’s demanding. It requires consistency and the ability to problem solve over and over again. When you’re dealing with teenagers and young adults who constantly change their minds, there will be frustration. We work with colleges and universities, big and small, and I can tell you that when the office doors close everyone has the same struggles and concerns when it comes to recruiting that next class.
As we enter the second half of February, more and more prospects are receiving admissions decisions. That means many of you are entering the final, critical phase of the recruiting cycle.
Today I want to bring to your attention a common mistake that we see many admissions professionals make late in the process that impacts yield in a negative way.
First, the good news – If you’re making this mistake, there’s still time to fix it. You don’t have to wait until next year’s recruiting class to make changes.
During our On-Campus Workshops with admissions departments, we constantly talk about not only forming a meaningful connection with a prospective student and his or her family, but the importance of strengthening that bond throughout the entire recruitment cycle. The key word there is “entire” because here’s where the big mistake starts to occur. Too many admissions counselors shift their communication efforts into cruise control after a prospect is admitted.
When discussing this communication issue with counselors during 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our admissions workshop, the most common phrases I hear go something like, “They already know everything about our school,” or “I don’t want to just repeat the same things over again.” My response to statements like those is simple. If you fail to continue to have meaningful conversations with your admitted students, don’t be shocked if many of them choose to enroll elsewhere. Let me take that one step further. If you’re having trouble coming up with things to talk to your admits about that don’t include college admissions or your school, I’d wager to say you haven’t built a strong enough rapport yet.
Now that we’ve addressed this common misstep, let’s talk about how to fix it. Here are two easy things that any counselor can start doing today that will make a difference.
- Keep giving them reasons to pick your school. Your prospects crave direction. Even after they get admitted, they’re still looking for good reasons to ultimately choose your institution. Make sure you’re giving those to them. Too often we see schools slow down their communication flow to admitted students. Big mistake! Let me remind you that your prospects tell us they want a logical, foundational message about your school every 6 to 9 days. That doesn’t change after you admit them. If you think you’re going to wait until an admitted student day event and then “close the deal” in one day or one weekend, you’re taking an awfully big risk. Like it or not, other colleges will continue to recruit them…and would it surprise you to know that admitted students have told us that they even start to consider new schools because they just aren’t 100% sure yet that they’ve found that “right fit?” You need to continue to clearly communicate reasons why your school is the obvious choice. Don’t just assume that they know.
- Whatever you do, please don’t forget to talk to the parents. If you’re reading my newsletter for the first or even second time, let me explain why. Our research on how prospects make their final decision tells us that parents continue to be their biggest outside influencer. That means if you don’t communicate consistently with them at this point in time, you leave open the possibility of unanswered questions or objections. We’ve found that a conversation with the parents during this critical time period can be very insightful. They will often provide counselors with usable information as well as a look at what’s going on behind the scenes.
In this final crucial phase of the recruiting cycle you can’t just sit back and wait for your admitted students to hopefully pick your school. Well, you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Successful admissions professionals understand the importance of continuing to cultivate relationships from start to finish. If you’re not doing that right now, it’s time to make a change.
My goal each week is to provide you with information and strategies that will help you become a more efficient recruiter and a better communicator. As always, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.