Rolling out the (Authentic) Welcome Mat

It’s that time of year…already. You are welcoming in your Class of 2022. You are stuffing big envelopes, creating excitement and ensuring that every admitted student knows you want them to be on your campus next fall.

But as you know, sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  So it should come as no surprise that the way you say “Welcome” will influence a student’s—and parent’s—decision to pay a deposit in a few months. As you begin this important process of yielding a new class, here are four things to keep in mind when crafting the right “Welcome” for your prospects.

Celebrate admission with the student.

Being admitted to your institution is a big deal. Make it one. Recognize that the choice you’ve made to admit a student is a sufficiently thrilling moment in her or his life, and that this occasion is a perfect opportunity to make the student feel significant and special. Ensure that no student feels like they are one of many. Personalize your admission packet and let it express your delight in making the offer of admission, while also letting the student relish the great news.

Try your best not to diminish the truly celebratory aspect of the occasion with transactional information. Sending forms, reply mechanisms and requests for more information can be a buzz kill. While these materials are important, and students and families will certainly want and expect them, adjust your timing. Let this moment of achievement sink in first; follow up a few days later with the details about enrolling.

Include parents and guardians in this moment.

Now is a great time to congratulate families as well. Consider a note or letter to the family of your admitted students. Let family members know that you appreciate their effort to prepare a student for this experience. Offer to answer questions, but celebrate alongside them.

If you have not already developed a strategy for conversations with parents or guardians who have been involved in the student’s application process, this is a great time to open the doors of engagement with them. Find or create a space in your CRM to record their contact information and open up lines of communication with them that show your investment in the admitted student. While many students and parents will be on the look-out for financial aid information, you want to assure them—through thoughtful communications—that they are a welcomed and valuable (new) part of your campus community.   

Keep the welcome mat out.

It’s easy to move out of celebration and into transaction mode. You want—need!—a deposit in hand to help you sleep at night. That’s important to YOU. Paying a deposit may not be as important to a student or a family, so don’t let up on the welcoming spirit in your ongoing yield communication.

Follow your acceptance packet immediately with a call or personal note from the recruiter. Create occasions to get together. Connect admitted students with students, faculty, coaches and advisors who will help them navigate their journey to fall enrollment. Launch your yield strategy. A high degree of outreach and engagement from your campus community will welcome students and help them to feel at home. Behave as though your prospects have already said “yes” to your offer and assume that they will be on campus in the fall. You’ll be surprised how adopting that attitude will influence their—and your team’s— behavior, communication and reception.

Be authentic.

This goes without saying, but nevertheless: when you welcome a student, mean it. Your admit is not just “another customer.” Be genuinely excited to welcome students. Be truly happy when you reach out to congratulate them. Authenticity is a sure way to build goodwill and strengthen relationships.

Part of authenticity is knowing the difference between a proper celebration of a momentous occasion and what might be deemed gratuitous gushing. Too much pomp might feel silly or distasteful to students and families; it could even have an adverse effect on how they perceive your institution. Your welcoming communication should be special and distinctive, but it should also remain congruent and in alignment (that is, coherent) with your institutional identity and mission. At RHB, we work with institutions to understand, develop, and create authentic messaging through expert services and consulting. To learn more about how we can help your institution turn new admits into matriculating students through effective yield communications and strategies, visit rhb.com.

 

 

 
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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.