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The Question Admissions Recruiters Should NOT Ask

 “Do you have any questions?”

This might be the worst thing your admissions counselors could say if you want to improve your enrollment outcomes.
At PS&L, we do a lot of secret shopping. When we are lucky enough to get a response back from a college or university, far too often it is an email, text or even phone call that asks: “What questions do you have?” or “Do you have any questions?”
Well, at least we got a response, right? Maybe, but what a missed opportunity!
Higher ed sales management isn’t just about the response, it’s about engaging students. It’s about stimulating conversations and encouraging prospective students to explore your college. Engagement is about capturing students’ attention and then having them interact with your college.
Do you really think prospective students are sitting by their phone wishing someone from your college would reach out via call, text or email so they can ask a question?
So how do you engage students? Admissions counselors must “own” a conversation, be in control and be proactive in connecting with students by asking questions – versus asking if they have a question. The goal is to inspire the student to learn more about your college and help the admissions counselor connect the prospective student with the college and/or people at the college.
If I had my way, I’d ban language such as: Do you have any questions? I’m calling to check-in, Are you still interested in College X? or even email subject lines of “Just Checking In” or “Are You Interested in Us?” These are defaults for an admissions counselor. A thoughtful and well-trained admissions counselor would never use these. The real fun of being an admissions counselor is engaging with students – learning more about them through questions that create a dialogue. Opportunities for this abound at college fairs, high school visits, and open house events.
Engaging students in email or text is also something we don’t see much of in secret shopping. Sure, we receive a lot of emails, but most are not engaging – they don’t capture a student’s attention and motivate them to interact with the college. Far too many outreaches by colleges are transactional – apply now, register for an open house, etc. These are good messages, but if the student hasn’t engaged with the college or made a connection and interacted with the college or an academic program, current student, faculty member or campus activity, why should they apply or visit?
Instead of asking if they have questions, try things like:
  • What activities do you plan to be involved in in college?
  • What areas of College X do you want to learn more about?
  • What surprised you the most during the campus tour?
  • What kind of internship would you like to pursue in college?
All of these questions lead to more than just an answer – they lead to an opportunity to continue a conversation, connect the student to the others on campus, and truly engage them in the recruiting process.
PS&L’s SMART and Yield Boot Camp workshops work with recruiting teams to help them learn what questions to ask and how to engage students and parents, through brainstorming, small group discussions, and role-playing.
Don’t miss your next opportunity to engage students!
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Dana Evans,

More than 17 years of experience in higher education admissions, enrollment management, and marketing. Most of it spent in-house at various colleges, including Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, prior to joining Paskill Stapleton & Lord. Facilitates focus groups, conducts interviews, crafts research instruments, and develops observations and recommendations on the findings.

215-572-7938