by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
It’s frustrating, but it’s going to happen to admissions counselors across the country this month: prospective students are going to say no to your school’s offer of admission.
What’s even worse is some of your “no’s” may very well come from recruits that you had penciled in as likely “yeses.”
The reasons will vary. Some will be legitimate…and some will make no sense at all.
Students are applying to more schools than ever before. Nearly one-third applies to seven or more colleges according to the most recent NACAC survey. That means despite your best efforts, the reality is the number of “no’s” is on the rise.
For most of you losing a recruit to another school should not signal gloom. I phrase it that way because if your no’s start to equal or out-number your yeses, I strongly encourage you to self-evaluate and discover why your recruiting efforts are failing. If you need help correcting bad habits or mastering certain techniques, please reach out to me via email.
Today however I want to focus on what to do next when your prospect picks another school. Handling this situation effectively is something that separates a good recruiter from a great recruiter.
Here are four simple tips to help you deal with rejection from your prospect:
- Don’t overreact. Sounds easy enough, right? If only that were the case. You just spent months, or in some cases even longer, cultivating a relationship with the recruit and their parents and poof, all your hard work is out the window in an instant. Combine that with fatigue and stress about yield, and it’s easy to see how a negative response from a prospect could become the tipping point for some counselors. Take a deep breath and exhale, even though it may take everything you have not to change your tone and become bitter and combative with the already nervous teenager on the other end of the line.
- Respond gracefully (because doing so can lead to future “yeses”). When a prospect chooses another school send them a personal note wishing them well. Why, you ask? For starters very few counselors actually do this so it will leave a lasting impression. “But Jeremy they picked a different school so that doesn’t matter at this point.” Oh but it does! That kind of professionalism will pay dividends down the road when others around that prospect or their parents ask about your institution and the overall experience that they received from you. This goes back to one of my personal pillars of successful recruiting – Who’s recruiting for you, when you’re not recruiting. Think about that for a minute.
- Ask them why. Successful people in any line of work learn from their mistakes. Instead of trying to end the conversation abruptly when a recruit tells you they chose a different place to spend the next four years, use this as a learning opportunity. Ask them why they chose a different school, listen carefully to their answer, and thank them for their honesty. Your goal is not to try and change their mind (although we’ve seen it happen before) but simply to learn. What most counselors find is there was an objection left unanswered. Our research shows this is the number one reason people fail when it comes to recruiting. Once you learn to overcome objections you’ll find that recruiting gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
If you’re hearing the same objection or complaint from several prospects, it’s time to make some changes and come up with a new strategy. By doing so you’ll likely find that you get fewer “no’s” and more “yeses.”
- Never let rejection get you down. Counselors, specifically less experienced ones, tend to get down on themselves when a prospect rejects their school’s offer. Many develop a negative attitude and begin dreading the recruiting process. Remember, they’re not rejecting you personally, they’re rejecting your school’s offer. There’s a difference. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t lose your optimism. Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to future success.
It’s getting late in the recruiting year. Are the results what you expected? More importantly, are the results what you want and need? If the answer is “no”, then let us explain what our Admissions Recruiting Advantage program is all about. Here’s what to do…email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can arrange a time to show you what other admissions departments have already discovered.