InsideTrack eBook: Connecting with Prospective Students


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Quick Tips: Understand that students are busy. Strong customer service, starting immediately, is critical. Respect the student and the parents. Connect success with students’ intentions. Recognize the existence of “a là carte” education. Articulate value in a way that students can understand.

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InsideTrack eBook: Connecting with Prospective Students

  1. 1. 1Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Quick Tips for Connecting with Prospective Students
  2. 2. 2Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Leverage the student’s own momentum An object in motion stays in motion. The same is true for 17 and 18 year old high school students. When students engage with you, make sure that next steps (e.g., applying for scholarships, submitting health forms, or registering for summer orientation) are available so they can “strike while the iron is hot.” This will not only deepen their commitment and motivation to attend but it will positively reinforce proactive student behavior.
  3. 3. 3Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Engage early applicants before the winter holidays Early applicants are often high- achieving students with a preference for your university. Even those with mediocre grades are typically proactive, organized and motivated. Too often, they hear crickets until February, as their feelings cool and motivation wanes. Initiate meaningful interactions with early applicants and you are more likely to enroll highly engaged and effective students and encourage positive post-enrollment behavior. Early applicants are special. Make them feel it.
  4. 4. 4Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Understand that students really are busy Treat students like busy adults and they’ll act like it. Even the most responsible, top-performing student will occasionally ignore a phone call, neglect to respond to e-mail, or procrastinate filing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). They’re genuinely busy and distracted, not to mention 17 or 18 years old. They have enough people nagging and judging them, so the best kind of outreach is proactive, positive, and nonjudgmental. Make your interactions “decidedly non- parental.”
  5. 5. 5Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Respect the student and the parents This is a unique time in the parent- child relationship. Students may be experimenting with independence and may or may not be communicating regularly with a parent or guardian during the decision-making process. Understand the objectives and perspective of each party, help bridge the communication gap where it exists while respecting boundaries, and create a safe environment for students to express a dissenting opinion without undermining anyone involved.
  6. 6. 6Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Realize that students often get busier as the year progresses The most organized students often focus on their next steps toward college when they know they have a little extra room in their schedule. They’ll often try to get as many college-related tasks done as possible before they get busy again with finals, holidays, travel, work or other activities. Provide resources that allow students to be as productive as possible when they can devote time and attention to preparing for college.
  7. 7. 7Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Strong customer service, starting immediately, is critical Students who are unable to get clear answers, feel passed around, or get lost in an automated phone system are not only dissatisfied, but also far less likely to reach out again. An outstanding early customer service experience can establish an enduring positive first impression of the school, making it less likely that the normal bumps and bruises of adjusting to college life will lead them to doubt the entire value of the institution or the pursuit of a degree.
  8. 8. 8Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Treat prospective students like adults Don’t give the “if you want to be treated like an adult, act like one” speech or incessantly remind students “you’re an adult now, you should…” Simply respect them the same way you would a busy, working professional. Refrain from judgment and respond to their requests the way you would those of a colleague. When a university takes the lead in modeling an attitude of respect, responsive communication, and trust, students are more likely to reciprocate.
  9. 9. 9Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Knowledge Don’t assume students know what they need to know about higher education Even children of the most educated parents may not understand the basics of higher education and may be too intimidated to ask. Listen for clues that reveal potential “gaps” in their understanding and provide clear and relevant explanations, without judgment. For example, students may have never had anyone break down the types of degrees available – AA, BA, BS, MBA. PhD, etc. Once they have, they find it empowering.
  10. 10. 10Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Don’t let melt prevention become the enemy of retention and completion Preventing Summer “melt” should not come at the expense of ensuring that every student who starts is as prepared as possible to finish. Make sure that students fully understand the expectations and have opportunities to test their skills prior to enrollment and that students relying heavily on financial aid have an in-person conversation with an expert. If an unforeseeable event caused a student to delay start, refrain from judgment. A positive experience in their darkest hour will make them more likely to come back when the dust settles.
  11. 11. 11Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Connect success with students’ intentions Understand each student’s intentions and define success accordingly. An increasing number of students enroll with the intention to transfer, but these students seldom reveal their intentions for fear of being judged or pressured to change their mind. A university that supports a student in transitioning to college, bringing their grades up, and gaining admission to their dream school should consider itself successful. Having an accurate read on students’ intentions also aids in institutional planning and gap analysis.
  12. 12. 12Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Recognize the existence of “a là carte” education Many high school seniors set out to graduate from a different university than where they initially enroll. Many more are influenced by the ever- growing options to piece their education together. When adults average seven career changes in a lifetime, expect to see some students adopt the same approach to education. Recognize that you do not operate in a vacuum. Facilitate candid conversations, free of judgment, to unearth students’ true intentions. Develop a strategy to communicate your unique value proposition in the context of a changing landscape. a là carte education
  13. 13. 13Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Leverage the student’s motivations to build commitment Connecting with students about their decision to attend your university on a deep, individual level demonstrates that you respect and value their motives. It also cultivates a deeper commitment to the university that helps counteract inevitable moments of doubt and ebbs in motivation. If in students’ heads, the only reason to attend your institution is because it “just makes sense” financially, geographically, or academically, they are less likely to see the value and persist through difficult times. Motivation
  14. 14. 14Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Articulate value in a way that students can understand The residential campus experience is relevant because it connects textbook and community and remains one of the most effective, widely accepted means of transforming oneself into an educated adult ready to take on the world, but this is a rather lofty goal with little immediate relevance to a student’s daily concerns. Connect them to tangible, immediately relevant value whenever possible and they will be more likely to remain connected to this value and better able to articulate it to others.
  15. 15. 15Confidential © InsideTrack, 2012 Increase enrollment, retention and graduation by 15%. • 1:1 coaching for prospective and enrolled students • Actionable insights on student perceptions and needs • Systems to ensure measurement and accountability InsideTrack works with you to implement a system for continuous improvement InsideTrack is the only college dropout prevention initiative to meet WWC evidence standards Increase student and institutional success. Contact us: 415.243.4468