Three Tips for Maximizing Conversions From High School Visits and College Fairs

Fall is the time!

With the undergrad fall travel season in full swing, college admissions staff are canvassing the country visiting high schools and attending college fairs. Bright-eyed high school students are met with brochures, looped PowerPoints and admissions staff asking, “What have you heard about my school?”

College fairs and high school visits carry a long tradition of inquiry generation and college options for high school students. For colleges, fall travel is a commitment of staff and budgetary resources. The influx of inquiries into the school carries with it the hope of not just meeting but exceeding enrollment goals. Below, we offer three tips on how to make the most of this short window of opportunity.

1. Understand that Inquiries are perishable.

Although students may not make final decisions immediately, many are firming up their short list. Relationships started briefly during a school visit need to be nurtured through student outreach. This outreach needs to meet the students “where they are at” – meaning that texts, phonecalls, email and social media should be used.

2. Reach out to the student inquiries.

During the travel season, most – if not all – of the admissions staff is traveling to prospective student events. For those staff on campus the list of tasks is large. Often, one of the most critical pieces – reaching out to students – gets pushed back behind other tasks that seem more urgent. Don’t let this happen. A plan for reaching out to inquiries needs to be priority. A plan that incorporates outreach through admissions staff, student dialers and marketing automation needs to make sure that students are able to continue the conversation that was started at each event.

3. Agree as a team what success means to you.

Admissions staff who are traveling must understand what success looks like at an event. During conversations with admissions staff, I have been told that “success” is being able to professionally represent the school. I agree, but success at these events has to also include how many qualified student inquiries were generated. Staff should go into an event with an idea of how many student conversations they want to conduct and how many inquires they want to leave with at the end of the event.

Fall is short

The fall travel season is short. Travel starts in September in earnest and ends in late October/early November. In theory, everyone gets the timeline – but not always the urgency. Ensure that everyone on the team understands that we need to not only attend the events during this time but also to reach out and start the dialogue during this same time. If the staff waits until later in the year, those hard-earned inquires could have already gone stale.

About the Author

Paul Kramer

Paul Kramer is director of student experience at Collegis Education. He holds a Master’s in Organization Development from the University of Saint Thomas – Saint Paul, Minn. and a Bachelor’s in Print Journalism from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

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