In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, where schools across America are competing for a limited number of nontraditional prospects, it is critical to hire the right people for your admissions team and ensure they have the knowledge and resources to perform effectively and consistently, resulting in new enrollments for your institution.
Unless you have ample high-converting applications coming in each month to meet your goals, it is not enough for your recruiters to simply respond to requests, answer questions, and wait for applications. To remain competitive, you must assemble a team of professionals who act as true recruiters that have the ability to demonstrate genuine compassion for prospective adult students and encourage them to meet their goals through education.
Our Profession is Noble
College admissions, especially for nontraditional degree programs, can be an incredibly rewarding career. Those of us with years of experience in the field will tell you how inspiring it is to have a small role in an adult student’s big, life-changing decision to enroll in a degree program. We will also tell you that with this role comes great responsibility. Successfully helping a prospective student navigate the emotions of going to school, which can include fear, doubt, and excitement, while also ensuring the student understands and completes all the necessary tasks of the enrollment process is no easy feat. With any student, admissions counselors can wear multiple hats, including guide, coach, counselor, and more. Your front-line must be able to demonstrate true empathy and compassion through active listening while being able to think quickly and critically. A great admissions counselor will use the information learned about a student’s goals to match them to features and benefits of your institution’s degree programs. What’s more, the team must be able to develop rapport and follow this process with a diverse group of prospective students, all of whom are in various stages of the enrollment life cycle.
So, as a leader at your institution, how can you ensure your nontraditional admissions counselors have the right tools and knowledge to understand how to dig deep and truly uncover the needs of your prospective students? The answer is simple – train well and train often.
The Payoffs of Regular Training
Enrollment leaders and admissions teams spend most of their time focusing on converting prospects to enrollments for their institution. Thus, the demands of higher education do not always allow for regular training and professional development. And quite frankly, most busy enrollment directors and vice presidents simply do not have the time to develop and facilitate in-depth admissions training programs. At Rivetica, we strongly believe that a true marketing partner helps our higher education institutions attract quality leads that convert – and also offers resources and services to admissions teams to ensure those leads are nurtured throughout the entire enrollment life cycle. We care about results that matter, and for you, that means enrollments. This is one of many reasons why we developed our proprietary admissions training program.
If you’ve spent time leading an admissions team, you know that burnout and poor performance of recruiters are realities faced by enrollment leaders. A key way to combat these challenges is to invest in opportunities for learning and professional development that provide your staff members with an in-depth understanding of: 1) how to recruit using communication best practices, 2) the psychology behind why adult students enroll or choose not to enroll, and 3) tools to assist in uncovering the needs of prospective students and how to match those needs to educational goals and institution attributes. Additionally, learning sessions that encourage group discussion and skills practice lead to greater team cohesiveness and comradery which can result in higher enrollment output and job satisfaction – a win-win for everyone.
Who Benefits Most from Training?
While it is a good idea for new admissions counselors to be taught the fundamentals of the role early in their career, it can also be extremely beneficial to take even the most experienced admissions professionals back to the basics of proactive communication with prospective adult students. Additionally, when new and veteran admissions professionals are in the same room learning together, both can benefit from the perspective and knowledge each bring to the table. We have facilitated admissions training for professionals of all experience levels and have seen success with those who have been in their role just a few weeks to those who have been with their institution for over ten years.
Our Admissions Training Program
Our admissions training program is customized for your institution’s needs as well as the experience level of participants. It is a two-step program which begins with a multi-day session for your team that takes a deep dive into proactive recruitment for nontraditional students. The initial training will cover best practices for recruitment and provide tools and resources for your team to use immediately upon completion of the first session. And, because we believe that recruiters learn best by doing, our training includes group and individual skills practice which allows your team members to immediately begin practicing the concepts learned.
Our years of experience in admissions have taught us that repetition and reinforcement are both equally important when it comes to learning and adopting new skills, so the second step of our training program focuses on consistency in use of the best practices learned in the initial session. We’ll hold regularly scheduled professional development sessions that include facilitated discussion, skills practice, group activities and presentations, homework, and more.
In the wise words of author and business success coach, Abhishek Ratna, “Make sure you work at a place which gives you opportunities to learn, travel, explore and interact with intellectuals and new work skills.” Most admissions professionals are looking for employers who provide learning and professional development opportunities, and clients across the country have seen improvements in enrollment outcomes, retention, and motivation of staff after participating in our training. If this is an area your institution could benefit from, we’d be happy to connect and share more.