By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
A couple of weeks ago I told you to ask your undecided students an important question. If you did that you should have a better feel for how each student will make their final decision.
Remember, at this point in the process it’s less about “selling” to this group and more about knowing what kinds of questions you can ask that will get them to say more than two or three words to you.
With that in mind, I’m going to cut right to the chase this week and give you more questions that I’ve seen work well towards the end of the process. Asking one or more of these should produce vital information that will tell you what your next step should be.
- Who are you leaning on to help you make your decision? If you asked a version of this earlier in the process I still want you to ask it again. We hear stories all the time of students being influenced both more and less by those same individuals down the stretch. Once you get an answer, ask yourself how well you’ve recruited those other individuals. If the answer is “not that well,” or “I’m not sure,” you know what you need to do later tonight.
- What are you and your parents talking about at home when it comes to the idea of being a student here? No matter how well you think you’ve recruited the student, if you haven’t cultivated a relationship with their parent(s), our research continues to show that your chances of getting a deposit from that student go down significantly.
- If you were going to tell me that you’ve chosen a different college, what do you see as the #1 reason you’d end up doing that? I want you to get them to play “what if” with you. Science tells us their answers are almost always based in reality. Whether they’re going to tell you “yes” or “no,” you’ll most likely get a hint of that using hypothetical situations. We’ve also heard from counselors who ask this question that it revealed a last minute objection that they were either unaware of or thought they had overcome earlier in the process.
- Can you see yourself living here on campus? You could switch out “living here on campus” with any other activity or action. If they can’t verbalize this with some kind of specificity and clarity, it means they haven’t been picturing it in their mind, and that’s a telltale sign.
- What do you like most about the students or campus environment here? Again, if they don’t know, or they can’t describe something specific about their visit to campus, that’s a red flag.
- Since our school isn’t the least expensive option, is it really just going to come down to who gives you the best financial aid package? This one, of course, is for a school that has a higher cost of attendance than their competitors. For some families, the legitimate, 100% honest answer is, “Yes.” For most, it’s the fallback decision making tool that they use if they haven’t been consistently and passionately told stories about your school and your students that provide value and create emotional connections. Either way, you need to know.
- What do you see left on your to-do list before you make your decision? You want to see if your undecided student verbalizes any remaining questions that are left unanswered. If they list something, your top priority should be to get answers to that question or help them check those things off their list.
- When have you told other schools that you’ll be letting them know what your final decision is? If you just asked a version of this question very recently, I’d wager to say not much has changed. On the other hand, if it’s been a couple a months, then it’s time to get straight to the point. This is a good question to do just that.
- When do you see us being able to talk again about all this? If their answer is sometime in the next week or two, that’s a good sign. If they tell you they’re not sure, but they’ll “keep in touch” or “let you know,” that’s another red flag.
- What do you want to see us talk about next? Hopefully they give you a new topic that is central to their decision making process that they haven’t brought-up before. Again, the goal during this time of the year is to keep them talking. Your undecided students need to feel free to communicate new questions or ideas to you. If you haven’t cultivated trust with them, this question probably won’t yield very much information.
- Which school are you leaning towards choosing? You’re swinging for the fences with this question, but you never know what you’ll hear. Remember, your prospect is under a lot of stress too. Our research shows that students are likely to reveal more details as the process enters the final weeks.
- Are you feeling like you’re ready to commit to our school? If you’ve been through our campus training workshop experience, you know how important it is to “ask for the sale.” I’m willing to bet that right now you have some undecided students that are ready to say, “Yes”…if you just ask them. And even if they say, “No” or tell you they already picked another school, at least you have some closure and can cross their name off your list.
Try one, two, or all twelve of these questions out, and then email me and tell me how they work for you.
P.S. Here’s a picture of my descent into Atlanta at sunrise earlier this week that I thought you might enjoy. Have a great rest of the week!