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Undercover Report: Comparing Admissions Advisors

EMG Guest

Today we have a guest post from Elizabeth Kraus, the co-founder, of, the Honest College Matchmaker.

At, we’re in the business of matching colleges to students who are more likely to enroll in their institution, and in order to be a better college matchmaker, we decided to do a bit of research. We simply posed as a prospective student and and randomly chose not-for-profit and for-profit colleges to find out how they process their student inquiries.

The results were VERY interesting. One of the most interesting things we found was the difference in the quality of the admissions advisors.

We released all of our observations in our recent webinar, but here are a few of the most important factors that determined the effectiveness of the college admissions advisors:

  1. The Tone in Which the Call Was Received: The best advisors were very welcoming and seemed genuinely excited to take a students’ call. This left a great impression. The not-so-great advisors made it seem like it was an imposition to answer a student’s questions. I think this is a reflection of which colleges have the mindset to proactively recruit students or “sell” their program, and which colleges feel it is their role to process orders and accept or deny applicants. This leads me to my next point……
  2. Willingness to Sell: A lot of college admissions advisors don’t like to think of themselves as “salespeople” and I think this is mostly because they associate “sales” with that over-aggressive, greasy, used car salesman image. From my experience however, the advisors who were the most comfortable selling, were also the most effective. This is because good sales people, are not used car salesmen, rather they are people who understand how to uncover what is truly important to their prospect and determine whether their product or service is a good fit. If it’s not a good fit, the sales people are upfront and honest about the disconnects between the prospect’s expectations and organization’s services. And if it is a good fit, they clearly communicate the value of their product or service, secure some sort of commitment from their prospect and move on. Not only is this a more efficient way to manage prospective students, it provides a better customer experience for the student.
  3. Ability to Collect Contact Information: Each of the for-profit college advisors we spoke with, immediately asked for the student’s contact information in case the call was disconnected. However, over half of the not-for-profit colleges neglected to collect contact information. As a marketer, this was shocking to me. Especially when dealing with younger students or students going back to school who may not be ready to make their college decision today. It is critically important to collect contact information to continue to stay top-of-mind with prospective students and continuously follow-up with them as mentioned below in number five.
  4. Whether the Admissions Advisor Can Connect to the Student as a Peer: The best admissions advisors were very professional, seemed well educated and in some instances, even claimed to be students of the program. In contrast, some of the not-so-great advisors seemed like low-level call center employees. It is kind of hard to take advice about choosing a college from someone who seems as if they have never been to college themselves. It’s important for colleges to know their audience and to hire people who can connect with students as peers.
  5. Follow-up: Not surprisingly, the advisors who did the best job on the phone also provided the best, most professional and consistent follow-up. The advisors who neglected to collect the students’ contact information obviously couldn’t follow-up. In two instances, the advisor continued to contact the student after specifically being asked to stop calling and emailing. Not a great impression……

So there you have it. Again, you can view more observations by reviewing the recording of our webinar or please feel free to contact me for further information at ekraus at myUsearch dot com. Happy Hunting!

One Reply to “Undercover Report: Comparing Admissions Advisors”

  1. As always, great blog, Elizabeth! Your finding #2 – willingness to sell, or lack thereof – is right on target with many recruiters who see “selling” as a negative. But when done well, it’s all about learning what a prospect really wants and needs, then matching those with the institution. More like problem-solving than selling. Wonderful article, thanks!

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