by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Award shows highlight the amazing work of people in any given industry or profession. They also bring about healthy competition and allow for both personal and team growth.
Later this week, ESPN will broadcast their 25th annual ESPY awards (short for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly). Once a year the worldwide leader assembles some of the greatest athletes on the planet all under one roof and then celebrates and relives the best moments of the past calendar year.
In honor of the ESPYs, in 2015 I came up with the TCS Awards for college admissions. There is one small difference. I’m not actually handing out trophies to specific people today. Instead, I’m going to give you some very important reminders and strategies that will help you as you begin to recruit this next class of students.
Are you ready to get started with the show?
Here’s a look at this year’s categories and award winners:
Courage Award: This award goes to the Director of Admissions who understands that this generation of students wants a variety of messaging during their college search process, even after they’re committed to your school. From beginning to end, you need to consistently tell your school’s story via email, direct mail, phone calls, text messaging, social media, and in-person in a way that promotes and encourages engagement. It’s okay to be different in your tone and language because that approach will increase the engagement level you receive back. Once you get a prospect or parent to pay attention to what you’re saying, then you have to keep them engaged. The moment you (or your content) become boring or predictable, you’ll lose their attention.
Best Breakthrough Counselor: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who is self aware enough to know when to ask for help from their colleagues. They worry less about perception and more about effectively serving students and families. They understand that not asking for help can cause a situation to grow from a problem into a crisis. On top of that, not asking for help can cause way too much time to be spent on a task when their energy and focus are needed elsewhere.
Best Record-Breaking Performance: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who’s able to get 8 or 9 out of every 10 students they call to answer the phone and engage with them. That performance is the result of setting up calls ahead of time, communicating the purpose of the call, and allowing each student to ask questions versus dominating the entire conversation with a bunch of facts and figures.
Best Director/VP of Enrollment: This award goes to the Director of Admissions or Vice President of Enrollment who creates and maintains a motivated and confident admissions team. They understand that, just like the students they’re recruiting, each of their staff members needs to be managed differently and has different motivations and fears. As a leader, they’re consistent with their message, ask for input and new ideas, and understand the importance of both ownership and recognition. This year’s winner also values collaborating with other offices on campus, specifically financial aid. They set up cross training between admissions counselors and those in financial aid so that everyone’s skill sets are expanded and time is used more efficiently.
Best Upset Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who isn’t afraid to go up against their big name competitors because they know they have a winning strategy. The foundation of that strategy is consistent, personalized communication from the counselor to both the student and his or her parents. Within those communications there needs to be constant reinforcement about why choosing the smaller name school is going to be the smarter choice for them.
Best Championship Performance: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor, new or veteran, who has delivered the best performance turning admits into deposits. They understand the power of creating and cultivating an emotional connection with their prospects because those same prospects trust their feelings as they make their final decision about a college or university.
Best Comeback Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor who doesn’t avoid talking about objections and instead confronts negatives that they consistently hear about their school early on. They anticipate the common ones (like financial aid and location), get clarification, and become a problem solver for their prospects.
Best Moment Award: This award goes to the Admissions Counselor whose hard work is rewarded in a major way when they get a big YES after they “ask for the sale.” Most admissions counselors rarely ask for that commitment, instead assuming that their prospect will tell them once they make their final college decision. If you’ve built trust, understood your prospect’s individual needs, and answered any objections, the next logical step in the process is to ask for this.
Best Team Award: This award goes to the small college or university whose leadership creates and promotes a working environment where the admissions, financial aid, athletics and campus visit staffs all work in sync. Doing so creates a unified campus community that shows prospects and parents the kind of support they can expect to receive.
Thanks for being a part of the 3rd Annual TCS Admissions Awards, and enjoy the rest of your day. We’ll see you next year with more awards for college admission professionals.
P.S. If one of your summer discussions has to do with changing your messaging/comm. flow, check out this unique approach with a BIG R.O.I.