Campus Tours are a great idea if you have a campus to show off. A lot of parents and students want to get a feel of the campus before applying to the colleges in it. So, what do you do to ensure the best possible experience?
Star Student: While staff may be an option, it is better to get the best of the students to give the tours. Remember some of the prospective students are from out of town and they may not know anyone from your college. You want them to look at the tour guide and identify with them or better yet, aspire to be like them. Now many students would apply to this job to get themselves out of the ‘broke’ books. But, even then see that the student who is the guide has great energy, enthusiasm and dresses neatly. Parents are put off by disheveled looking teenagers giving out important information. So, while your star student may not be interested in walking up and down your 10 acre campus during her final exams, you can find students who are good academically, can retain information and are not involved in too many things. If they don’t care for the extra money, give them extra credit or killer recommendations.
Don’t KISS: While keeping it short and sweet is definitely not the way to have a campus tour, keeping the audience detained for more than an hour and a half is suicide. Remember, not all the people in the tour are teeny boppers. Some may just want to sit and relax. Here is what to do: Break up the tour into 2 or 3 parts. First get everyone walking. That builds momentum and cover as much ground as you can in the first 45 minutes. Then use a lobby or a garden setting to help everyone relax and sit. You can even tie in a bathroom break if you want. In this time, answer questions. Talk about a totally different subject after the break. The physical tour can continue again after that. A lot of colleges transfer the prospects from one guide to another every 30 minutes. This does not help the bonding process that is so very essential. If it was meant to be impersonal, robots would have been able to do it with lesser practice.
Shhh: How do you stop the moms from chatting up at the rear? Well, one cannot expect the student guide to discipline the parent. But what will help is raising the voice, making everyone gather around or change the formation or asking questions.
Chop, chop: When you schedule tours one after another, inquisitive prospects can be an issue. They have to be encouraged to ask questions and the guide should definitely not give any hint of the fact that she is late for the next tour. So, when a guide gets detained, you should have a backup guide ready. Also, the guide should be equipped with contacts of people in admissions and individual departments, which she can hand out if the questions cannot be clarified by her. Sometimes guides can give their own contact details so that the bond can be strengthened.
Involvement: Community involvement is always a big draw for education institutes. If there is a free event that is happening the following week on campus, make sure the guide is weaving that in to the speech. In the end of the tour, the guide can pass out flyers for the event or verbally invite everyone. They may not come due to the distance involved, but will sure think of you the day of the event. Mission accomplished. Keep them involved in the college.
An interesting thing about campus cameras is that they are very easy to install, take no effort at all to make live and all it needs is a good view of a good location on campus. Yet, not all campuses make it a priority.
Campus cameras are not just a frill that the admissions office uses to dazzle the applicants. They are a statement to the parents saying: “Our campus is open to viewing. It is being watched
constantly. So, do not worry about the safety of your child.” Also, for resident campuses, campus cameras become a way of their parents having a visual grip of their kid.
With different cameras focused on different outdoor areas, students can monitor which areas have events going on. Combine it with Google Latitude and you have a Marauder’s Map.
The Admissions office is known for the rehearsed answers when it comes to the universal “Will I get in?’ question. When you say there is no weight for scores alone, students will believe you. When you tell them that no score is too low, they will believe you because that is what they want to hear.
When you say that an application is an amalgamation of the scores, the LOR and essays, you are probably being entirely honest. But, the truth gets modified too. So, when an applicant wants to know if 1000 is a good SAT score, you say, “You know, there is nothing like a cut off for scores. If your LOR and essays are really good, then you can get in. it is all about the impression the whole applicant makes. In fact, last year we had a kid from Little Rock, Arkansas, who had a score of 900, but his application was compelling and he got in. Now he is doing real well in his business major.”
Well, what you conveniently left out was that the kid from Little Rock was the hero of his community, was the best kid in school, was a state level basket ball player, helped raise his 2 little siblings while his parents worked at 2 jobs and received a bravery award for rescuing puppies from an abandoned home. Year after year new batches of students have been fooled by this classic tactic. But, with students applying to multiple institutes, two years in a row, parents comparing notes and high expectations floating around, this tactic could come crashing down on you resulting in an ugly open house.
So, if you know that there is a range, don’t hide it. You will be surprised how many applicants respect you for it and even strive harder to make the mark. And, if the big revenues are coming in from the $30-$50 application forms, then the issues lie elsewhere.
In some colleges, the admissions form is in two parts and the Part 1 of the process has a demographics and academic history section. Most admissions staff explain that it is just a formality. Even if the test scores are not filled in by the applicant, the Part 1 can be used to open a file in the name of the candidate.
While, this may seem logical as a logistical step towards efficiency, it does not seem very authentic. Students and their parents often have a concern that this step is used to weed out the low scores and yet keep a buffer of potential admits in case the chosen ones do not take admission.
Now, whatever the practice at your institute is; whether you are really using this process to eliminate or select or it is just a step taken to ensure that there aren’t 30000 applications on the last date that need entering, it is a good step to come clean with the applicant.
Most of them will understand the elimination process. You need not give a figure, but you can be clear that if the scores are too low to be considered, you would not bother opening a file in the name of the applicant.
And if you are really using it JUST to open a file and input data, show them a sample file. It could be a physical file or a screen shot of an online database entry.
Unknown admissions jargon would only make it less transparent and students would not be willing to completely trust you. What score is a low score? That’s another topic.
Good admissions staff members not only have answers for frequently asked questions, but also are proactive enough to anticipate what questions would be coming up in the student’s mind and how to answer an anxious parent.
Give an agenda of the admissions speech. If they know what they can expect, they won’t ask redundant questions.
Find anecdotes that students may find interesting. Refrain from inside jokes that are used in every admissions office. Students would just feel left out. Instead, before a speech, ask a neighbor or a friend’s younger sibling to sit through it and see if they found it funny, interesting or just down right boring. Remember, there are many in the audience who are not your biggest fans.
In some cases, institutes do not have the time to check with the testing agencies if all the records are accurate. This validation process cannot be taken lightly. At the least, random checks should be done to ensure accuracy. Some colleges are very forthcoming when it comes to self-declaration of scores. If you tell the students to self declare their scores, there are chances you may be taken for a ride. But it is easier to check 3000 scores instead of 50000. So ask them to self declare and then once they are selected, check the score. If someone did get through the cracks, they will definitely be out by admissions. That is why you have the waiting lists.