By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
During a recent yield workshop we were talking about college decision-making factors – specifically what that school’s freshmen said mattered the most, and the least, when they made their final choice.
The number one factor for those students in the survey we conducted has been the number one cumulative factor for eight years running.
Would it surprise you to know that the “feel” of campus continues to rank ahead of things like a college’s academic reputation, affordability, and location? It does.
Even if an admitted student hasn’t been able to visit your school in-person, every time you send them an email, text message, something in the mail, you call them, you have a video chat, you hold a virtual event, or you visit with them during fall or spring travel season, it makes them feel either more or less excited about the idea of being a student at your school.
Incoming and current freshmen students everywhere continue to use the words “feel”, “felt”, and/or “feelings” when we ask what gave them the confidence that this school was the best fit for them.
“Everyone that I talked to was extremely nice and very welcoming. It felt like a community and family.”
“When I came to visit campus it immediately felt like home. It’s a little smaller than my hometown with just a few more people so that made me feel really comfortable. This campus is I feel in a really safe somewhat secluded spot which also gave me more positive feelings about being here.”
“I feel like <College Name> explained how they can help me get the career I want in Computer Science better than other schools I considered.”
The majority of students will continue to take college visits, respond to outreach, fill out applications, and make their college decision based on how they feel. In fact, 63% of seniors in our national survey last fall said that personalized and relevant outreach is influential when it comes to visiting or applying to a school.
The good news is, most of you that are reading this have a lot of control over what I just outlined. You can absolutely create more positive feelings than your competition does in different communications, events, and the content you share.
Think about the language and format you use in your emails. Are they overly formal in tone, start with “Dear..”, and loaded with bullet points and hyperlinks? If so, students are going to feel like just another name or number.
How about your text messages. Do they sound robotic, fake, and transactional like a bot could have sent them?
What about your Admitted Student Day events? Are you incorporating fun activities and creating opportunities for 1-1 connections throughout the day?
And finally, if you’re a counselor, think about your spring travel. Are your information sessions and conversations going to feel like you’re just vomiting information. Or, are students going to leave feeling excited about your school, and/or less stressed about their college search.
I’m going to say it one more time because it’s that important – The majority of students will continue to make decisions during their college search based on how they feel. Emotions matter…a lot!
I have one final piece of evidence for you. Incoming and current freshmen students continue to rank how the admissions staff treated them throughout the process as a top three college-decision making factor. Only affordability and the “feel” of campus rank higher.
And in case you’re wondering, three of the bottom four cumulative decision-making factors are the history of the school, sitting in on a class when they visit campus, and the brand/name recognition of the school.
If you’d like to talk more about something I said in this article, let’s do it. Simply reply or email me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else on your campus who could also benefit from reading it.