Finding out what prospective students will and won’t tell you

December 6th, 2016 by Rick Montgomery Leave a reply »

“Why don’t the students we are recruiting just level with us?  I had four no-shows last weekend for campus visits, all from students who had verbally committed to me the week before,”uncover an admission counselor recently asked me. I’ve heard  iterations of this question many times: “Why do students say one thing and do another?” We asked over 18,000 college-bound students that very question, and many more.

Students may not be willing to share their hidden perceptions and feelings with the colleges they are seriously considering but they have been opening up to us in our latest nationally co-sponsored higher ed study, “Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that prospective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control enrollment”. This study focused on the things students hold back from colleges during the college shopping process. An analysis of the results have revealed techniques and strategies colleges can use to unmask hidden influences and deal with them before the student solidifies his or her enrollment decision.

For instance, nearly 30% of college-bound students admit to making commitments to colleges that they knew they were unlikely to keep (e.g. completing an application, visiting the campus, enrolling, etc.). FYI, females are almost 60% more likely than males to do so.

Why do they do this?  Here’s what they tell us:keeping-commitments1

  • I felt uncomfortable saying no (10%)
  • I wanted to end the conversation (7%)
  • I thought there was a possibility that I would keep the commitment (60%)
  • It was easier than explaining why I didn’t want to commit (11%)
  • I wanted to keep my options open (78%)

(Students were asked to check all that apply.)

This is just one example “Hidden Influences” uncovered where study participants demonstrate that they do NOT like to be the bearer of what could be perceived as “bad news” to their admission counselor. Take note of the responses to this question:

If you need to tell a college that you are no longer interested in enrolling at their school which methods are you most comfortable using to do so? (Check all that apply.)

  • Face-to-face conversation: (15%)
  • Phone conversation: (32%)
  • Voice mail: (9%)
  • Email: (90%)
  • Text: (17%)

So, what should a counselor do? College-bound students told us there are ways to get them to open up with you even about difficult subjects.  More than half of the study participants said that they would be comfortable talking about negative things if “the counselor sincerely encouraged me to be open, honest and forthcoming.” When a prospective student communicates a concern or objection about your college, it’s a good thing. Really. When a concern or objection is revealed, you can deal with it. If they don’t share their concerns, they’ll never enroll and you’ll never know why. Give them “permission” to be completely open with you and you will be building a richer relationship with the students you are recruiting.

This study yielded new market intelligence to shed light on the hidden influences and provide you with actionable data you can use to uncover and manage the perceptions and opinions that prospective students have about your college and the other colleges they have considered. The findings will influence your future conversations with students, as well as your mass communications. We are excited to share that with you and soon we will release the full national report on this eye-opening study. (Click here to put your name on the list for an advance copy.)

yield_season_workshop_bannerShifting gears: We are delighted to announce that for a limited time, Longmire and Company’s highly regarded counselor training workshop is coming to a location near you! A number of colleges and universities will be serving as regional host sites where nearby colleges can send counselors to participate in a full-day intensive Yield Season Counselor Training Workshop that will prepare counselors for yield season success. This very affordable workshop is designed to benefit seasoned counselors just as much as counselors who are going through their first full recruiting cycle. Best of all, counselors you send will return home with skills and techniques that can be shared with the whole admission team. For more information or to register today, click here.

We help colleges with their recruiting efforts every day. If we can help you please call me or any member of our team, Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company and the tools we have to offer, click here. Be sure to subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at

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