Tales from the Trail: June — Warmer weather was upon us in most (but not all!) of our travels this past month and we unfortunately faced a number of uncomfortable situations! Our typical admissions interviews (using our College Mystery Shopping) will include information about the school, program, curriculum, and facilities. Conversations eventually turn to taking the next step in the admission process, which may include taking a test, getting a financial aid estimate, and/or applying. When our travelers presented obstacles to continuing, we got a few interesting replies! Would you apply after being pushed to contact your parents?

Tim from Financial Aid told me that he could give me a financial aid estimate without my Social Security number. However, when we reached the topic of how much my parents had made the previous year, he strongly pressured me to contact my parents while he was in the room, to the point that I had to pretend to text my mom. Soon after, when I did not receive a text back from my parents, Tim told me to call my mom in front of him, although I had explained that I didn’t really speak to my parents and tried to avoid contact with them. He also asked me to call my dad, but I didn’t have his number. Fortunately, when I was unsuccessful, Tim dropped the topic.

Encouragement sometimes turned into uncomfortable urging, and the prospective student can feel pressured to provide information or make a move they’re not yet ready to make. Some representatives employ interesting techniques to incite the student to make an on-the-spot enrollment decision:

Eric pressured me to apply to the school for the last 15 minutes of the interview. He insisted I fill out an application and said, “The director is going to expect you to fill out an application” (because he had recommended me). Eric stated that within a week’s time, the program cost would be going up, but if I applied that day, I’d be grandfathered in at the $22,692 price. He also told me I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, who was a ‘commitment-phobe.’ When I told Eric I wanted to discuss everything with my parents before applying, he would not schedule me for a second appointment because he stated he was not confident I was going to apply.

When faced with concern or resistance to completing an application, how can a representative counter without applying pressure or making the prospective student uncomfortable? When presented with an obstacle, what questions can a representative ask to identify solutions? Looking at obstacles instead as opportunities to build trust and develop a plan of action may be a great place to start!