By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
Last week Ethan Penland and I were having a conversation with one of our college partners about their event messaging. The Director in particular was asking about trends related to students visiting a campus in-person.
That’s actually a topic we’ve been talking about more and more since the beginning of the year, including gathering data via different Tudor Collegiate Strategies surveys. More on that particular data in a minute.
While most prospective students are open to, and comfortable with, visiting a college campus in-person, the latest data from our friends at Niche in their 2022 senior enrollment survey showed that only 38% of the most recent class visited three or more colleges in-person. That’s a stark change from pre-COVID numbers (2016-19), when on average 60% of students visited three or more schools in-person.
While COVID has no doubt had an effect on the declining visit numbers, I would argue there are a few bigger factors at play.
According to the same Niche survey data, 59% of the Class of 2022 reported applying to five or more colleges. Of that 59%, 26% actually applied to ten or more schools.
Simply put, the majority of students and families lack the time (and in some cases the means) required to visit every single college that a student is seriously considering, let alone all the schools they’re being contacted by.
For students who do visit colleges in-person, our Tudor Collegiate Strategies data from the Class of 2022 has shown that only 28.9% visited the college they chose before they applied. The majority (40.3%) instead visited after they were admitted, or after they made their final decision.
Besides a lack of time, there are a few other key things that are holding students back from visiting at the inquiry or prospect/suspect stage:
- Wondering if they will get admitted to a school
- Wondering if they do get admitted, if they’ll be able to afford the school
- Wanting a unique experience that doesn’t look or feel like every other college visit
While incentives such as a visit scholarship can definitely help motivate students, here’s another idea that I don’t think I’ve written about before.
Parents remain the number one outside influencer for most students, and in past articles we’ve stressed the importance of building parent relationships sooner rather than later.
But there’s another aspect to parent relationships that can also have an equally important impact even earlier in the process.
We find that parents are the main drivers when it comes to which colleges a student visits. Makes sense, right? They control transportation, the money for the trip, and students often look to them for guidance.
When you form a relationship early with a prospective student’s parents, you increase your chances of getting them to visit.
My advice if you want to increase your number of visits this fall is to create a message (it could be an email or a letter depending on what parent contact information you do or do not have) for the parents of your inquiries.
That message should come from the admissions counselor, and it should emphasize the fact that the counselor is the ‘go-to person’ for the entire family during the college search process. From there, offer a few college search tips, one of which could be the importance of visiting different campuses. Be sure and provide a little context around why visits are so important.
End your message with a call to action that is a direct question designed to generate feedback and create a conversation with the parents. If you send the message as a letter, ask them to send their response via email to the counselor.
Once a back and forth conversation begins, the counselor should then ask if the family is open to the idea of coming to campus for a daily visit or an upcoming event.
If you find that there’s definitely an interest in visiting, but time, budget, and/or distance from home remain obstacles, email me for another idea.
And if you’d like to talk more about this article, go ahead and reply back, connect with me here, or if you’re going to be at NACAC in Houston this week, stop by Booth #1233.