By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
“Stop making college life seem too perfect. We know it’s going to be difficult, so be genuine and true about it, and tell us about challenges and your resources when we need assistance.”
“When a college talks too professionally it is seen as intimidating and they appear more as a business than a place to learn and find a community.”
Both of those quotes came from the latest Niche-Tudor Collegiate Strategies joint survey of more than 20,000 high school seniors. Every time we conduct a survey with students we see tons of similar sounding quotes.
If you want to be more student-centered and make the college search process easier and less stressful for prospective students, authenticity is an absolute must.
Here are 15 things you can do to improve and increase your authenticity:
- When you’re having a conversation with a student in person, virtually, or digitally, acknowledge you understand the college search process is overwhelming, and ask them how you can help.
- Cut out any admissions, marketing, or financial aid jargon and use language that your audience is comfortable and familiar with. That also means forget about the writing rules you learned growing up. Most of those writing and grammar rules are actually preventing you from truly connecting with this generation of students. Be less formal and more conversational and casual with your messaging.
- Send prospective students non templated emails.
- Talk to/with your audience, not at them.
- Don’t read directly from a script during phone calls, video chats, or when you’re leading an information session or campus tour. In the words of one student, “We don’t want to talk to a robot. Say what you want to say and have a genuine conversation.”
- Openly discuss some of challenges that new and current students face on your campus such as living away from home, being independent, social anxiety, handling college level work, and time management.
- Be open about your school’s admissions process. Give parents and families more insight into how decisions are made, how financial aid works, etc.
- Instead of overloading students with content at every stage, ask them what they would like to see you talk about next.
- Encourage feedback and audience engagement.
- Express excitement for the student’s interest in your school.
- Create more current student and alumni generated video content on your website and on your social media platforms. And remember, polished videos are no longer the norm.
- Interact and engage with students on social media.
- When you don’t know the answer to something, it’s okay to tell the student (or parent) you don’t know. No one expects you to be perfect.
- Takes ownership for a mistake if one occurs.
- Hire new staff and student workers who embody authenticity. It doesn’t matter how authentic your school is if the people you hire aren’t.
I encourage you to try one or more of these things in the coming days and weeks, and then let me know how that goes for you.
If you have a question about 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.