Archive for August, 2009

What Prospective Students Say vs. What They Do

August 30th, 2009

dials_smallResearch shows that what people cognitively express as their ideal – whether it be in love, product purchases, or personal goals – is often at odds with where their emotions lead them in terms of action in the real world.

An example: Ask a college-bound high school senior where he or she plans to attend college and why. The answers tend to revolve around practical considerations like location, cost, academic program offering, and so forth. Fast forward six months or a year – after they have enrolled – and ask them to why they enrolled in their college of choice.

They answer you are most likely to get? “I felt comfortable there.” Or, “It was a good fit for me.” In the final analysis, it was an emotional decision.

Unfortunately, too many institutions allow themselves to fall into the trap of selling on the basis of what students (and parents) say is intellectually important to them. Sure, issues such as programs, professors, buildings, facilities, institutional reputation and the like are important and should be addressed. However, the final college selection decision – the true commitment – is going to come from the gut. The measure of all communications with students and parents should be based on how far it moves the needle on the meter of emotion.