by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Can you believe it’s the second week of February already? That means many of you are entering the final critical phase of the recruiting cycle with this class of prospects. They’ve taken their visit, submitted their application, and in some cases admissions decisions have been sent. Now with fingers crossed, you wait.
In a world of instant gratification, waiting is not something many of us are used to doing. It can cause stress and lead to frustration, especially if you or your admissions team hasn’t had things go according to plan with this particular group of recruits. The reasons why are typically many and varied. I can tell you however that through our work with college admissions offices, we’ve identified a common mistake that many admissions professionals are making late in the process that impacts yield in a negative way.
First, some good news – If you’re making this mistake, there’s still time to fix it. You don’t have to wait until next year’s recruiting class to make changes.
During our On-Campus Workshops with admissions departments, we often discuss the importance of forming a meaningful connection with a prospect, and strengthening that bond throughout the entire recruitment cycle. You’ll note my use of the word “entire,” because here’s where the big mistake starts to occur. Too many admissions counselors shift their communication efforts into cruise control after a prospect’s application has been received.
When discussing this communication issue with counselors during 1-on-1 meetings that accompany our admissions workshop, I hear things like, “I don’t know what else to say to them until they get admitted,” or “I don’t want to bother them anymore until they get our financial aid package.” My response to those statements is simple. If you fail to have meaningful conversations at this juncture of the college selection process with your recruit, he or she is probably not going to enroll at your institution. Furthermore, if you’re having trouble coming up with things to talk to a prospect about that don’t include college admissions or your school, I’d wager to say you haven’t built that rapport yet.
Now that we’ve addressed this common misstep, let’s touch on how you can regain control of the recruiting process. Here are two easy things that any counselor can start doing immediately that will make a difference.
- Keep giving them reasons to pick your school. Your prospects are hungry for direction. Even as they wait for an admissions decision or financial aid package, they’re looking for good reasons to ultimately select your school. Make sure you’re giving those to them. Be creative and generate content that is specific to their needs and wants.
- Please whatever you do, don’t forget to talk to the parents. If you’re reading my newsletter for the first or even second time, let me explain why. Our research on how prospects make their final decision tell us that parents continue to be one of, if not the biggest outside influence in their child’s final decision. That means if you don’t communicate consistently with them during this waiting period, you leave open the possibility of unanswered questions or objections. We’ve found that a conversation with the parents during this critical time period can be insightful. They will often reveal what’s going on behind the scenes.
In this final crucial phase of the recruiting cycle you can’t just sit back and wait, and hope your prospects choose your school. Successful admissions professionals continue to cultivate their relationship with recruits and their families, and do so in such a way that furthers their connection with you.
My biggest goal each week with this newsletter is to provide you with information and strategies that will help you become a more efficient recruiter and a better communicator. As always, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.