Posts Tagged ‘college decision day’

A Simple Fix for the Common Mistake Your Admission Counselors Are (Probably) Making

November 21st, 2017

During one of our recent on campus Interactive Counselor Training Workshops, I asked Andrew, a veteran admission counselor, to describe a typical interaction with a prospective student. “I like to start out with the big picture. I tell them about our great academic programs and name drop a couple of well-known graduates of our business school.  Then, I focus on the fun stuff like our winning sports teams and Greek system. Everyone comments on our attractive campus so I always mention that.”

There is no doubt that Andrew did a great job of enthusiastically describing several key features of the renowned university he represents, but did he move the student closer to enrollment? Probably not and here’s why:  A feature is not a benefit.

Features Tell/Benefits Sell.

You know that list of special attributes of your college that you point out to every prospective student?  It may be entirely meaningless to them. Worse, they may be totally tuning you out while you are droning on about things they don’t care about.

Simple Fix:  Probe to uncover what is of value to the prospective student.

In any conversation you have with a prospective student, whether it’s your first or your fifth, and regardless of where you are in the recruiting cycle, you need to probe. You HAVE to ask many questions.

Most counselors think they already do this. But in our training workshops with admissions counselors across the country, we see two common mistakes.

First, the questions being asked don’t penetrate deeply enough to uncover all of the student’s motivations, assumptions, concerns, preferences and influences in their college selection decision.

Secondly, we see questions asked that do little more than give the counselor an opportunity to talk about the college.

The key is to turn the focus of the conversation toward the individual student. Information you provide about the college must relate to only those things the student has told you are important in their college selection decision or, frankly, it is meaningless.

We have a theory that we share with counselors: To have a relevant conversation we must discover what a student is thinking. To be more meaningful we must know what a student is feeling. A conversation without relevance and meaning is just talk.

When you have asked enough questions to have a full understanding of the student’s unique preferences, you are ready to talk about your college and demonstrate how your institution can best meet their individual needs.

In our Interactive Counselor Training Workshops we teach counselors to probe and uncover key factors that will motivate a student to select your college over all others.

For instance, if you ask about the importance of distance-from-home in selecting a college, and they say they are willing to go anywhere, you’ve just determined that distance-from-home is neither going to be a deal-breaker nor a strong perceived value of your institution. In that case, you can close that issue and move on.

There is an art to probing. But it’s also an acquired skill that can be learned and perfected. We have helped counselors master the art of probing in a manner that is so effortless that at the end of the exchange the student describes the encounter as a “great conversation.” In the process, the student has handed the recruiter every tool he or she needs to present the value of the college in perfect alignment to what the student will perceive as being valuable. More importantly, the student feels understood and valued.

College admission directors and enrollment managers often tell us that they wish they had the budget to hire professionals to train their admission teams. They tell us they know they need training; that their counselors would greatly benefit from learning new skills; and the right program would energize the entire staff. “But,” they say regretfully, “we just don’t have the budget to support the expenditure this kind of professional development often costs.”

So, last year, we conducted a series of one-day intensive Yield Season Counselor Training workshops on host college campuses across the country. We held workshops on the campuses of Eastern Kentucky, Guilford, Westminster (PA), Rosemont, University of Mary Washington, and others. Colleges from the surrounding areas sent counselors (many driving three hours) to these events. They loved it and so did we!

We are kicking off our first yield season workshop this season at Drew University in New Jersey on December 12th.

We are talking to colleges around the country about being a host site (there are incentives that make being a host site very attractive so contact us if you have an interest hosting a workshop).

Whether you are a host college or not this is a very affordable workshop designed to benefit seasoned counselors just as much as counselors who are going through their first full recruiting cycle. Counselors you send will return home with skills and techniques that can be shared with the whole admission team.

Your admission counselors will learn new methods to:

  • Adopt a student-centric approach to recruiting.
  • Reveal the needs, preferences, motivations, and perceptions of prospective students.
  • More effectively present the value of their college based on what the student (and parent) perceives as being most valuable.
  • Manage the perceptions and opinions that prospective students form about their college.
  • Uncover hidden influences that will impact a student’s enrollment decision.
  • Learn how to differentiate your college.
  • Create and foster relationships with students that will lead to enrollment.
  • Discover the true influence of cost and isolate factors that will outweigh cost.
  • Enlist the support and influence of parents.
  • Share their new skills and techniques with the entire admission team.

The Bottom Line: You can up your game this yield season for a minimal investment in time and money and a maximum return in your enrollment. If you are interested in attending a workshop, suggesting a location, or even hosting a workshop, ask for details 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.

Bob Longmire is President of Longmire and Company, Inc. He is a recognized expert on the topic of how prospective students and parents form their college selection decisions – and how colleges can use that knowledge to grow and control their enrollment. He can be reached at (913) 492-1265, ext 709 or at Connect with Bob at Linkedin/in/boblongmire.

Decision Day Has Come and Gone…..Or Has It?

May 2nd, 2017

decision_dayFor most colleges “Yield Season” extends all the way up to the day new students show up for class. While the majority of prospective students may have made their college selection decision at this point, a sizable number are still considering their options. They are still looking at you and other colleges.

Nearly 30% of Students Have Yet to Bond with a College

In our co-sponsored study, “The Relationship Factor,” over 70% of students told us that the relationship they built with their college of choice had a major influence on their enrollment decision. What we learned is that when a student feels a connection with a college, they are quick to claim it as their own.

In the graph on the right, you will note that more prospective students identify April as the month they bonded with a college. Blog-Yield-Relationship-Timeline-RevBut here is the number you want to consider today: 29% of students have yet to develop a bond with a college.   That suggests how much potential there is to connect with students and win their enrollment during the summer. It also suggests that the lack of a relationship may foreshadow melt.

Best Practices:  Turning Reluctance into Commitment

As you circle back to your admitted student pool it is important to have a strategy for building a relationship quickly. Use highly focused questions that show empathy and reflect your sincere desire to help. “What can I do that would be most helpful to you?” “How are you feeling about this whole college selection process?” “Do you mind if we stay in contact? What’s best for you? Email? Text?”

When a student tells you that they’re still making a decision, respond by asking for more insight into his or her decision-making process. “It’s not uncommon for students to still be considering their options at this point but many say that they’ve narrowed down what’s going to be important to them. What’s going to be most important to you?”

Handling the root causes of a student’s reluctance to select your school

  • Lack of information: “I sense you’re a little uncomfortable taking the next step. When that happens it’s usually because the student needs more information or some assurance. How about you?” Find out what information or assurance is needed.
  • Hidden objections or concerns: “Some students don’t take the next step because there is something they don’t like or they have a concern about something. Is that so for you – I promise you won’t hurt my feelings but it will help me understand.”
  • Withholding their true feelings/plans from you: “Of course, I want what’s best for you. And you can be honest with me because I’ll help you even if we aren’t your chosen school. What are you thinking at this point?”
  • Fear of the unknown: “Some students don’t take the next step just because it’s kind of scary. They’ve never been through it before. However, once they do they feel a huge relief and look back and think ‘That wasn’t that hard after all.’”

Obviously, when a student fails to matriculate it is disappointing. But the race to make your class isn’t over even if your numbers look good now. Our research shows that the factors that contribute to the phenomenon of melt are the same issues that are impacting the students in your admit pool today; coping with the reality of college costs, anxiety about finding the “right fit” and an overwhelming amount of often confusing paperwork, among them.

So, what can you do? Follow the lead of the most successful admissions counselors: They know they must continue the building of relationships with their students and gain valuable personal insight about each and every one of them. Many students don’t begin to feel as though they’ve established an emotional bond (aka relationship) with a college until orientation. It’s up to the counselors and others from the college to create and nurture relationships with students who are on the path of enrolling but have not crossed the finish line.

With that knowledge in hand, they nurture a relationship with the student that best serves the needs of the individual. They stay in touch, remain accessible, ask questions and have meaningful conversations throughout the entire admissions process. They make the student feel wanted, important, and engaged with the college. And, they don’t get unpleasantly surprised in August when the student vanishes.

NEWS: Longmire and Company’s just-announced national co-sponsored higher education study has been launched to explore – in depth – the topic of emotional motivators in college selection.

Unlike any other higher education research to-date, “Emotional Motivators: How to increase and control your enrollment by getting a deep and accurate understanding of how students really feel about your college,” will explore how students feel and, more importantly, Emotion study boxuncover why they feel that way, to give you a deeper understanding of the students you’re trying to recruit. The actionable insight yielded by this study will give you greater control over your conversations with prospective students, better ability to craft sharper mass marketing messages, and more direction to design highly productive campus visit experiences.

We hope you will join a prestigious list of co-sponsoring colleges and universities, large and small, and participate in this study. Co-sponsors find our studies valuable because of the wealth of new insight they gain about their individual pools of prospective students – insight they can use to drive action and change.

Colleges are signing up now so we encourage you to contact us soon if you are thinking about participating. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, 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

Celebrate Decision Day! Then, Use These Insights to Move Forward

April 28th, 2015

What are your plans for May 1, aka College Decision Day? Here is our suggestion: First, give yourself and your team kudos for the months of hard work and the outstanding efforts you put forth to serve the students you recruited while building the best possible incoming class. Next, celebrate those great new students that will be joining your campus family this fall. And then, if you are like the majority of college admissions teams across the country, you’ll go right back to work to secure more admitted students because there is still much work to do.

The truth is that most colleges don’t meet their enrollment goals by May 1. According to the “2014 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors,” only 39% of colleges met their target enrollment by Decision Day in 2014 and industry insiders are projecting that even fewer will do so this year.

decision_dayFor college admissions counselors and enrollment managers facing this challenge, we have some good news and important insights gleaned from our latest co-sponsored study, The Excitement Factor! Of the 12,000 students participating in the study, 20% committed to the college of their choice after the first of May.

The late enrollers shared many of the same attributes as their peers, of course. But there were some areas where we found distinct differences that may help you in your outreach efforts.

  • Excitement about Attending: Late enrollers don’t have as high of level of excitement about the college they select and are far less likely to experience a feeling of connection with the college than early enrollers.
  • College Visits and Applications: Students who enrolled later were far less likely to have visited or toured the college they selected than their peers. Actually, they generally applied to and toured far fewer campuses than the students who made their decision sooner.
  • Family Ties: Late enrolling students are more likely to choose a college that a family member has attended than other students.
  • The Cost Factor: The students who enrolled later indicated that cost was slightly more important to them than the students that made their decision earlier.

The late enrollers tended to have lower SAT scores than other students, but otherwise there were no large variances found in the demographics or psychographics of the two groups.

As you review the pool of students still available to you, keep these things in mind. We know that excitement that about attending is a more powerful driver of college selection than cost or perceived quality of the institution and that a tour of your campus can create excitement. Are there students in your pool who haven’t visited your campus yet?

Have you identified potential students with a family connection to your college? In The Excitement Factor!, four in ten students told us that their college choice was influenced by where a parent or sibling attended and late enrollers are even more likely to gravitate to the college that has a family tie for them.

And lastly, if you are looking for a way to really connect with these potential students, we suggest that you make them feel wanted. Two-thirds of college-bound students told us that the colleges they were considering had not taken a personal interest in them at any point in the Personal_Interest_460x287recruiting process. You may have heard the saying that “someone may forget what you said and forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Showing a personal interest in a student makes them feel good about the college and it has a strong positive correlation to yield.

We help colleges and universities with their recruiting efforts every day, especially now during yield season. If we can help you, please let me know.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Karen Full picKaren Full is a highly-respected higher education professional who has held positions in admissions and enrollment management at several institutions in the Midwest and Florida. With her vast experience working with large and small, public and private colleges, Karen brings a valuable perspective to her role as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. Call Karen at 913/492.1265 x.711 or email her at Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenAFull.