By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
One of the things we’ve learned from helping hundreds of colleges and universities track thousands of interactions over the past 9 years between admissions counselors and prospective students is this:
The more you dig, the more you ask direct questions that feel personal, and the longer you can keep a conversation going, the better the results.
By ‘results’ I don’t just mean students submitting their deposit. I also mean gathering information to help determine whether a student is leaning towards your school or away from it.
The problem I see with a lot of admissions counselors is they send out an email or text that contains a question, the student responds with only a few words, and the conversations ends.
Another missed opportunity.
As I explained to a counselor of one of our college partners last week, it’s about mastering the art of extending the conversation.
Here’s an example of a real time situation that we worked through. The counselor had texted a few of her admitted seniors and asked “How are you feeling about your college decision?” (A great question to ask)
Most of the responses were one word answers like “stressed” and “unsure”.
I prompted the counselor to ask the follow-up question, “Help me understand why you’re feeling that way.”
The responses from students were much lengthier and more information-rich.
In one situation the student’s frustration had to do with the FAFSA website. Now the counselor had an opportunity to provide additional assistance and learn more about how the parents were feeling about financial aid.
Another student shared that her family was worried about the cost of their school… namely because their school was the student’s top choice and they were worried it might not be possible. This was all new information to the counselor, and it wasn’t that hard to learn. All she had to do was dig a little.
You can improve your level of responsiveness in any conversation by being inquisitive and asking follow-up questions that give a student (or parent) permission to go deeper.
Without that approach, most students are going to hold back and not reveal key details that can ultimately delay a decision or next step, or allow you to better evaluate your next move in the process.
If you’d like to talk about something I said in this article, I’m happy to connect. Just reply back, or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.