If you’re in admissions, then chances are that your calendar is filled with high school visits. There’s nothing like face-to-face connection to spark interest among prospective students, so off you go, a road warrior, out to represent your college. You’ll likely leave a lasting impression, but will you be prepped to connect with those who are the best fit for your institution? See our seven tips below for how to set yourself up for success while on the road:
- Visit high schools that others overlook
Some admissions counselors visit high schools because they are in a convenient location. It makes sense to visit a cluster of schools that are close by each other, right? But consider where your best-fit students come from. Are you overlooking schools that seem out of the way in favor of schools that have generated few to zero enrollments in the past? A lot of rural high schools feel as though they get passed over by admissions counselors. Your presence could be a powerful force in locations like that. Take a fresh eye to the high schools in your region that may be hidden gems.
- Know each school’s metrics
On that note, are you keeping metrics on your feeder schools? It can be illuminating to see how many inquiries, applications and accepts have come from each. The information can help with prioritizing your list, or point to a phase in the college selection journey that could be strengthened.
- Connect with the high school’s guidance counselor
Teaming up with each school’s guidance counselor can pave the way to identifying students of interest. But, don’t forget to ask for insights into how to connect with that school’s particular students. The guidance counselor may know that affordability has been a hot topic at the school, or perhaps a career track has captured the hearts of a large group. Advance knowledge can help you amplify your presentations and connect with students in a meaningful way. Likewise, be sure to reach out to any coaches or teachers who may also have insights to share.
- Leverage relationships with athletics, social and recreational clubs
Have any of your institution’s athletic coaches been keeping an eye on the high school you’re visiting? Athletics are just one example of niche groups that can influence a student’s choice of college. Take a moment to check in with your institution’s students, staff, faculty and coaches to ask if they are involved in any clubs or events that might overlap with some of the high school students you’ll be talking with. They may be able to help generate excitement about your visit among their contacts. Additionally, If there’s a student they’ve been hoping will attend your institution, why not reach out?
- Network with nearby alumni
Check your institution’s alumni contact list to see who’s in the area. Interest in a college’s outcomes in terms of job placement or graduate school acceptance has been rising. Hearing what an alum’s experience has been can be a great motivator. Perhaps they could do a five-minute presentation in a classroom with you, or spend some time talking one-on-one with students.
- Publicize your visit with posters and digital announcements
Get the word out about your visit by sending posters to the high school ahead of your visit. See if you can share information about your visit on the school’s website, through a newsletter or social media. Every bit helps.
- Hand the contact off to the student dialer
You’ve made the connections and done the footwork. It’s time to shepherd the prospective students through to the next part of the process, and that may involve enlisting the help of student dialers who will reach out to stay in contact with the students on your list.
Take some time to brief your dialers on what you learned about each student. If you’re both relying on notes in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, make sure everyone is on the same page regarding what to include, terminology and how to signal that a lead is either warming up or cooling down.
Outreach can be your differentiator
Prospective students may be enthralled by your competitors, but keep in mind that you can differentiate your school through demonstrating that the student truly matters. When a prospective student realizes that you’ve gotten to know them, you’re responsive and there aren’t barriers keeping them from finding the information they want and need, interest in your school is likely to grow. The tips above can help your team connect with right-fit students and help those students feel as though they’re genuinely wanted.