By Jeremy Tiers, Senior Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
“You know how you always ask students what make them different? Tell us what makes y’all different. Why should I choose your school over anything else?”
That quote from a high school junior appeared in a national survey earlier this year that TCS and Niche collaborated on. It’s actually one of the biggest things that every class of prospective students wants and needs you to answer for them during the college search process.
In a world full of choices, why should they choose you?
The answer isn’t a bunch of facts, figures, history, and generalized statements about your school. That’s not going to be effective with this generation.
Instead, you need to consistently explain the why.
Every college and university has professors, experiential learning, clubs and organizations, traditions, residence halls, a dining facility, internships, and so on. What makes yours different, unique, or better – especially if your location and school’s size are similar to other colleges a student is considering.
If you have “professors who care,” provide concrete, detailed examples of how they care in your email campaigns and on social media. And if you have a “welcoming, supportive community,” give context from the current student point of view that allows prospective students to connect the dots and understand why that kind of atmosphere is important, and how it will make their experience at your school more enjoyable and worthwhile.
At this point you might be saying to yourself, “So you’re saying I need to tell better, more detailed stories Jeremy.” You got it.
Don’t ever forget, your people (including you) are your school’s brand.
Prospective students (and their parents) connect with, are influenced by, and take action because of other people, not taglines or facts and figures.
Whatever topic or value point you choose to talk about in your messaging, or during your in-person visits and virtual events, the important thing is you explain why it’s better, different and unique. Point by point, item by item, over a long period of time – it’s not going to happen with one email, one Instagram post, or even one visit to campus.
“But Jeremy, what if certain things at our school really aren’t that different, better or unique than at other colleges?” Spoiler alert: Your student experience is probably 80-85% the same as a lot of other schools…and that’s okay.
Focus on telling better stories that create stronger emotions and feelings while you make the case as to what makes your school better, and why.
We continue to find that when an admissions counselor, tour guide, professor, etc. executes that strategy and their peer at another school doesn’t, you have a better chance to win (i.e. get the student to take the next step). Most of the time, the person who makes the case as to why they are better is going to come out ahead in that recruiting battle.
Small difference, but it makes a huge difference in your yield.
Want to talk more about something I said? Just hit reply or connect with me here.
And if you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else in your campus community who could also benefit from reading it.