by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Here we go again. New names, new faces, yet the goal remains the same. The Class of 2020 will soon take center stage with college admissions. Are you ready?
Spring college fairs and high school visits bring with them the chance to make a lasting first impression with your junior prospects. That should never be undervalued. Your follow-up communication in the coming weeks however will be equally, if not more important. Here’s why. Early in the process prospective students are looking to see which schools maintain consistent contact. In their minds, it’s an indicator of just how serious of a prospect your institution considers them to be.
Determining those early talking points can be a challenge for many counselors. In fact it’s one of the biggest reasons that admissions departments start working with us. The messaging in those first letters is simply not generating a reaction.
Today we’re going to change that. It starts by defining what gets them to keep talking to you after you make that first contact. Our research shows that when a prospect and his or her parents are comfortable engaging in conversation with an admissions counselor, that school immediately moves up the list.
Here are five things your next class of prospects wants and needs to know from your initial messages:
- If possible, remind them where you met. This is a great example of the obvious getting overlooked. Most counselors don’t even think to mention where they first met a prospective student. And yet, recruits tell us it’s one of the easiest ways for them to determine that your school is serious about them initially. It gives them context for why you are reaching out to them and more importantly why they should take the time to reply back to you.
- Tell them what you like about them. This generation of students wants to know what you like about them. Why? Believe it or not some of your prospects aren’t sure they’re good enough to be considered by a school such as yours. Pointing out two or three specific things you saw from their information is another important way to tell them they “have what it takes” to be considered for admission to your school. If you include these first two points in your initial messages, you will see an increase in replies versus a more generic, non-specific message.
- Write a short story, not a novel. If you read last week’s article on creating impactful recruiting letters then you understand that worst thing you can do early on, is cram tons of information about your college all together. If you want a response from your prospect, that is. By being short and to the point, you will leave room for their curiosity to take over. That curiosity then prompts them to want more interaction with you.
- Engage the parents. Our research finds that many parents are anxious as you begin contact with their child. They want to play a part in the recruitment process, and naturally they too have questions they want answered. While a majority of your competition will ignore the parents as long as possible, I encourage you to do the exact opposite. Begin contact with them early and work to establish that same emotional connection. If you do, you’ll find that they’ll be more than willing to contribute useful information during the process.
- Have a call to action. This is essential if you want them to respond to you. You need to clearly tell them what the next step in the process is and how to do it. Start off with one simple thing. For example, the next logical step in the communication flow if you’ve been mailing and emailing your prospect, is to speak with them on the phone. Establish a day and time for that call and let them know what needs to happen between then and now.
Early communication with a prospect is about getting a response. Your goal should be to get a back-and-forth conversation going, and let the relationship (and their interest) build from there.
Do you have more questions about how to generate that initial response or carry on a logical, consistent conversation with your recruits from the start? Send me an email. I’m here to help.