by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
Yesterday my daughter had a dentist appointment. Nothing major, just one of those twice a year check-ups.
During breakfast she said, “Daddy, the one thing that’s scary about the dentist is the sucking thing they put in your mouth.” The technical term for that long dental suction tool is a saliva ejector (I Googled it because I was curious).
On the drive over, and while we waited for her to be called back, again she mentioned the “sucking thing” and her fear of it. I calmed her down by telling her that Daddy has the same thing put in his mouth every time he goes to the dentist for a check-up.
Do you get nervous if you have to give a speech or presentation? Do you hate heights? How about spiders and insects? Or maybe, like my daughter, you dislike those trips to the dentist.
It’s all about our fear of fear.
Now let’s apply this to prospective students, who in many cases, have not one but multiple fears when it comes to the college search process.
If you’ve had us on your campus you know that the biggest fear this generation of students has is the fear of making the wrong decision. They’re scared to answer your phone call, scared of saying the wrong thing to you during said call, and scared to ask you for help solving their problems.
They, like you perhaps, have a fear of fear. They’ll avoid an honest conversation with you to avoid the fear of saying something wrong. Sounds crazy, right? Like it or not, that’s who you’re recruiting.
Your job, if you’re going to be a dominant recruiter and truly be your prospects’ “go to person”, is to find out what scares them and address it.
With that in mind, here are a few strategies we see working well for our clients around the country.
- Focus on their feeling of being fearful. It’s not actual facts that your prospect is scared about, it’s the feeling of being scared that they’re trying to avoid. For example, if you’re focusing on selling your school by talking about last year’s ranking by publication ABC as a way of overcoming the fear that’s ingrained in the mind of your prospect, you’re going to struggle. Instead, address the question of why they’re feeling scared about something – leaving home, visiting campus, or returning your phone call. That’s the secret. Focus on the feeling that’s creating the fear.
- Ask them what scares them most about the whole recruiting process. Logically, if they have an irrational fear that needs to be discussed as a part of the recruiting process, who is more equipped to lead that conversation: You, or the teenage recruit? Of course you have to be the one to lead that conversation! It starts by asking them the question that most counselors don’t think to bring up – “What scares you the most about the college search process?” This is an extremely effective question early in the recruiting cycle. If you don’t ask it, you’re missing out on a BIG opportunity to both solve a problem and develop trust.
- Tell them what you think they’re thinking. Tell your prospective student what you see them being scared about and see if they agree with you or not. It’s easier for them to react to a statement about what you think they’re thinking than it is for them to tell you what they’re thinking. Is it confusing? Yes. Regardless, it’s what we find to be true, so use it to your advantage.
These three approaches are meant to merely be a starting point.
Just remember, fear is driving almost everything that your prospects do during the recruitment process. If you can help calm their fears (which is one of the biggest things your prospects really want you to do), you will win their trust and in turn be way ahead of the competition who doesn’t believe this is important or doesn’t know how to address fear.
FREE HELP! Yes you read that correctly. If you’ve got a question about recruiting, leadership or anything else that can help you do your job more effectively, simply send me an email or call me directly at 612-386-0854.