By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
College admissions departments throw facts around all the time. And a lot of admissions counselors and tour guides brag about facts in an attempt to separate their school from their competitors.
But which facts are really worth talking about, and which ones do prospective students not really care about? Like it or not, some of those facts just take up space in your marketing materials and recruiting communications. I’d even argue that some of the facts that colleges present actually hurt their recruiting efforts.
While this generation of students does rely on facts about a college or university to form their overall opinion of the school, we’ve found that it’s most effective when admissions counselors and tour guides tie those facts directly to a benefit the student will receive if they pick their school.
Let me say that again another way. When you state a fact as a selling point of your school, it’s important that you take the extra step and explain to your inquiry, prospect, or admit (or their parents) exactly how they will personally benefit from that fact. That’s real personalization. Plus our ongoing research continues to find that many prospects don’t usually “connect the dots” between the benefits that your school offers and what it means for them personally. So, I want you to do it for them.
When you’re able to communicate facts that will personally benefit that student, or even get them to visualize themselves experiencing that benefit on your campus, more often than not you gain a distinct advantage over other schools who either don’t know how to effectively do that or don’t think it’s important. And when you do it correctly, the end result is positive feelings, which matter because students continue to rely on those feelings to help them make their final college decision.
With all of that in mind, here are 4 facts that students rate as very important in their decision-making process:
- Your on-campus housing. As I told an admissions team yesterday when I led a training workshop, you don’t always need the newest and biggest dorms or apartments to win over prospective students. Instead, you need to make sure they understand why your current students love your campus and dorm community and how that atmosphere will positively impact their day-to-day living. An effective way to do that is storytelling. When your current students showcase what happens in the dorms on social media, it can be extremely ROI positive. Don’t over think it; just encourage them to show “day in the life” stuff. That’s what prospective students continue to tell us they want to see more of.
- 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 you have made from scratch options or campus dining focuses on special diets and food allergies. Maybe it’s just the fact that you have a Starbucks on campus. Bottom line – prove to prospective students that they will eat well and have options and you’ll move up their list.
- How a degree at your school will help them after graduation. Every admissions counselor in the country loves to talk about the academic strengths of their school and the value of their school’s degree. The problem is a lot of counselors offer generalized statements like, “97% of recent graduates are employed or continuing their education a year after 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. In our survey research during the past 18 months, outcomes have become a very important factor in a student’s final decision.
- How your school 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. Have you effectively explained what resources and services your school offers, and how it will be easy for them to “fit in” and “feel comfortable” as a new student?
When you talk about these 4 things effectively, your school will gain a recruiting advantage.