“Hands On” Education Requires the Human Touch in Admissions By : Richard McCulloch

“Hands On” Education Requires the Human Touch in Admissions

 “Hands On” Education Requires the Human Touch in Admissions

Anytime I have the opportunity to walk through the Admissions Department of a postsecondary institution, I can’t help but smile to myself and reminisce about the changes that have taken place since my first Admissions job in the early 90’s.
Back then, the only “technology” that existed in our offices was a telephone. Lead Management had yet to be teamed with the modern-day office fixture known as a computer. Instead, leads were usually captured on weathered index cards. “Reps” usually wrote their contact attempts on the back of the card, so that you could rotate your calling times and make sure you were following up regularly. This was Lead Management back in the day.
Contact rates for leads were amazing. After all, there were very few people with caller ID so if the phone rang, the only way you knew who was on the other line was to pick it up. Once you set the appointment, you scheduled it in your “Book of Business” and anticipated the interview where you would really be able to connect with the prospective student and see if your school was a fit for their educational and career goals.
Though I was educated in the more traditional, liberal arts college environment, my career started and pretty much remained in the private, postsecondary vocational sector. In retrospect, I think that I connected with my students because they were just like the friends I grew up with in the Bronx, NY. Many of them were not interested in or prepared for the didactic academic delivery in traditional universities. Instead, they were focused on fewer years in school and more “hands on” instruction.

Hands-On Admissions Experience

The students whom I serviced were not inclined to make a commitment based on a glossy college catalog and a guided tour through a tree-lined campus. They needed to be heard, guided and supported as they deliberated if this was the right time, and the right program at the right school. In the end, those that chose the option that I presented clearly preferred a hands-on educational experience, and therefore could only make that decision based on a hands-on Admissions experience.
In today’s postsecondary education landscape, the Admissions dynamic has evolved much like our society. Technology is king, and sometimes a barrier to effective human interaction. Leads are generated through landing pages and other digital platforms. The leads are then managed by Lead Management Systems and computer-based applications. Due to today’s smartphone dependence, a significant amount of prospect contact is through text messaging and emails. Only at the actual interview is the benefit of genuine human interaction guaranteed. The question is: with all the focus on technology-based processes and outcomes, are Admissions professionals as fluent with people as they are with the technology that surrounds them?

Train Admissions Guides – Not Reps

In the private, postsecondary educational sector the typical student requires an Admissions Guide even more than an Admissions Representative. Role play is only one dimension of holistic training for Admissions professionals. Understanding the significant amount of time and funds associated with pursuing higher education, that first encounter with a school has to be one that is so rich with humanity and genuine verbal interaction that the prospective student feels assured that “this person gets me” and will be able to show the features of the program and school that are important to the individual.
Effectively connecting with prospective students is greatly enhanced by exercising one of our most basic senses: Listening. Scripted interviews, standard slideshow presentations and generic tours through a facility effectually convey the message that every student is the same. No one wants to be treated as one of many. We all want to feel special. Why would this be any different to a student making one of the most important decisions of their life? Each student has their own set of experiences, fears and expectations. The best Admissions professionals are able to decipher these through listening and treating each prospect as an individual.
Many of these students, who crave a career-focused curriculum and hands-on classroom dynamic, also require Admissions guidance that takes into consideration the fact that they may be a first-generation postsecondary learner. Their success in completing the Admissions process, navigating Financial Aid, and developing the habits that ensure student persistence, graduation and eventual job placement begin with that connection in the Admissions Department.

A Generation of Immediate Gratification

With the abundance of digital distractions in our lives, our attention spans have been compromised to the point where even milliseconds affect our likelihood of engagement. As reflected in a recent article in Fast Company; “Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. Google has calculated that by slowing its search results by just four tenths of a second, they could lose 8 million searches per day–meaning they’d serve up many millions fewer online adverts.”
Immediate gratification has become the Holy Grail of our daily interactions. Once you have managed to get a prospective student in your facility and in front of an Admissions specialist, the encounter better be immediately gratifying and substantial in its content. If you are not able to effectively engage a prospective student at an interview through a dynamic conversation and human interaction, you may lose them at “Hello”.

Conversation Leads to Conversion

In the world of postsecondary education, the student that opts for a hands-on vocational training experience is one that typically thrives on human interaction and a two-sided interchange punctuated by mutual engagement.
Are you training your Admissions team on the benefits of conversation, or are you more focused on the importance of conversions? Both have their place in Admissions, but not focusing on the former could be the reason that you are not achieving your best at the latter.
Contact Tribeca Marketing Group today to discuss how you can improve your lead-to-enrollment rates! contactus@tribeca marketinggroup.com or 954-800-6501