By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
When it comes to the way colleges communicate with prospective students, authenticity has been a buzzword for the past few years.
I understand that consistently finding ways to be authentic and genuine can be a challenge, particularly when it comes to the emails and letters you send…not to mention time consuming.
While it’s easier to revert back to what you did last year or what you’ve always done, I want you to ask yourself, will it help you get and keep a student’s attention?
If your messages look, sound, and feel like what most other schools are sending (i.e. jam packed with information that feels impersonal and transactional), the answer is likely to be no. In fact, taking that approach puts you in the risky position of losing their attention altogether.
To help with that, I’ve got an easy to use strategy that continues to be effective for multiple admission and enrollment marketing teams that we currently partner with.
Tell more stories about challenges or failure.
Prospective students continue to tell us in our ongoing survey research that they’re tired of the bragging and boasting that most colleges and universities do. Too many counselors, tour guides, and faculty continue to want to cram tons of high ranking statistics and success stories down the throat of students via email, letter, or during a campus visit or one-on-one interaction.
No college student at any school is happy 100% of the time and without any challenges. You know it, I know it, and they (prospective students) know it too.
So, make it a priority to tell stories of current and former students who struggled with common things like the transition to college classes, transferring schools, time management, being homesick, being depressed, living with a roommate for the first time, or learning how to be independent and accountable.
Focus on why a student struggled (or why new students every year struggle) with something or even failed. What did the student learn? What advice and tips would they (or can you) offer? What resources on campus did they utilize, or how did you or another staff member help them? And remember, details matter.
Telling one or more stories about challenges or failure can enhance your credibility and let the student know that you’re being honest with them in what challenges lie ahead or what mistakes not to make once they choose your school or another college.
Honesty is something that most prospective students actively look for during their college search.
One final thing – Be sure not to use the real names of current or former students that are the subject of these stories. Doing that will also let the prospective student know that if they choose your school and make a similar mistake or have a similar failure that it will remain confidential.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, go ahead and reply back or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.