By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
It’s a common problem every fall for most admissions counselors. They’ve got a bunch of students, specifically seniors, who at one point showed some level of interest in their school, but have since gone silent and aren’t taking any action.
Today I’m going to give you some quick advice about the direction you should take with that group. I understand that schools have to move on some point, but I continue to see too many giving up too quickly on their inquiries and prospects.
First, let’s talk about why they may not feel ready to engage or take action yet. Some are busy, some are overwhelmed, some are scared, some are having a hard time differentiating between schools, and some don’t understand the need for urgency. All of those things, along with a host of others, are just a fact of life that you need to account for in your recruiting efforts every year.
Here are three quick strategies that continue to work well for our clients that I encourage you to try:
- Reach out to the parents. In many cases, parents or other influential family members are going to be unaware of your previous attempts at contact – emails, phone calls, and text messages to the student. We’ve also found that most of the time they’ll be able to help you understand why a lack of interest exists, or what needs to happen first before action will be taken. Of all the strategies I recommend to counselors, this has proven to be one of the most effective. You can reach out to them with a quick email or by giving them a phone call. Either way make sure you have talking points prepared ahead of time.
- Reach out to the high school counselor. Even though they don’t always have the same insights as parents, many have more information than you might think. Tell the counselor that you’ve tried reaching out to the student multiple times and ask them if they have any advice to help with engagement, and/or if they’re willing to relay that message to the student.
- Write a very personalized email that is short and direct. Create some urgency in the subject line by using a word like urgent, important, or deadline. Students tell us words like those get their attention and make them more likely to open your email. In your message, acknowledge that you tried to connect with them multiple times in multiple ways and you’re feeling like they might have other plans for college, but you’re just not sure. Ask them to reply back and tell you whether or not they’re still interested in your school. And if they don’t want to hear from you any more, tell them it’s okay to let you know. Remind the student that your goal is to help them find the school that fits them best. If you keep this email short and get right to the point, this type of message has a good chance of working.
When you start to get engagement from this group of students, focus less on stats, data and information about your college, and instead have a goal of figuring out their process, timeline, and what you need to help them with or answer for them before they’ll take the next step.
And if you do choose to write that personalized email and you want some advice on the language and the tone, email it to me and I’ll shoot you some quick feedback.