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Having Great Conversations Isn’t Enough

Having Great Conversations Isn’t Enough

A counselor reporting that they are having great conversations with their students is not helpful.


Projecting forward from that assessment is as foolish as reporting on the weather in your backyard and connecting it to global climate change.

When considering the current malaise among admissions counselors, the disconnect between ‘having great conversations’ and recruiting students is significant, and should be addressed by admissions directors.


Recently, the data science team at enroll ml successfully identified the “swing students” in a college’s admit pool that would make or break the calss.

Here’s the thing: counselors weren’t regularly engaging with those students.

Instead, they were focused on students who had all but moved in.


As I have discussed, an admissions counselor is naturally drawn to comfortable conversations. For someone who loves the school they work for, talking to students who love it just as much is about as comfortable as it gets.


To improve the work experience for counselors, an admissions director must help them focus on persuadable students. That requires two tangible, specific actions.


Step One. Learn to identify which students in your pool are persuadable. Look for the indicators of interest in email engagement, web activity, and significant milestones. Double- and triple-check your assessments — getting this part right is essential. In fact, it is so important that I would happily jump on a call with any admissions director reading this to do just that.


Step Two. Train your counselors to lean into uncomfortable conversations of persuasion — and celebrate the yeses from this group even more than you usually would. A deposit from the swing students (if you correctly identified them) was never a sure thing — so your admissions counselor moved the needle forward for the institution.


An admissions counselor can have one of two mindsets: crowd management or active recruitment.


Those who view admissions as crowd management probably feel like they are always talking to students who love the institution. That’s probably because they are — but that’s not helping them to achieve their goals, or yours.


Those viewing admissions as active recruitment often feel like their calls and conversations are a coin flip between encouraging and challenging. That’s how they will meet and exceed their enrollment goals.


Focusing their efforts on the right students will make them more successful and feel more fulfilled and valued in their work.

Teege Mettille
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