Life is all about relationships.
I recently had a conversation with an admissions recruiter at a school in Boston and our conversation turned to how she became so effective at recruiting international students. She told me that her success was a symptom of her ability to connect with prospective students and their families. To get students to apply and ultimately attend her school she never regurgitated her university’s talking points and facts but rather took time to get to know each prospective student on a personal level.
Her conversations with students were about her family, her life, her experiences of traveling around the world. She would ask prospective students’ about their lives, dreams, motivations and goals. After taking the time to have a conversation that was not merely ‘small talk’, the student and their family would start asking questions about the school she represented. That’s right, by taking the time to create a personal connection, the student would begin to ask unprompted questions about her school leading to a submitted application and many times a deposit!
So if personal relationships help us recruit quality prospective international students, how can we create more personal relationships without having to spend excessive amounts of money to travel around the world?
Embrace the conversations that students are trying to have with you on social networks! Today’s prospective student, without being conscious of it, loves to develop relationships. This can be seen with the phenomenal popularity of social networks. Students live on social networks, spending hours leaving comments on their friends’ profiles, photos, blogs, etc. They ask and answer questions in forums about how to get a student visa or how to beat the SAT exam. They update their status on Facebook and Twitter. The point is that with social networks, today’s prospective students are more personal than ever and we need to embrace this fact.
We as admissions offices need to gain the confidence of today’s prospective international student today more than ever before. If we want to attract the top talent to our schools we need to respond to their comments and questions we need to comment on their content, we need to get conversations started, we need to share our lives and create personal connections.
To get personal we need to do more than put up a Facebook page, more than direct students to our website, more than write e-mails. We need to interact, communicate and get personal with our prospective international students!