Are you keeping students warm or giving them the wobbles?

Posted on May 17, 2016 By

Anyone thinking about going to university can’t escape the question of value. Is it worth it? Should I go? And if I’m going to go, should I go there?

The wobbles can strike at any moment in the application cycle. Which is why it’s so important universities make every effort to keep students warm at all times.

But too often in the chain of emails and direct mail, bureaucratic process gets the upper hand and any warmth is lost.

Wobbles start when someone has to make a decision but is exposed to information that leaves them cold or uncertain. If students experience a severe case of the wobbles they may decide not to come at all.

Communication from admissions can be formulaic and robotic. But every email, every card, every letter, is a chance to keep your brand engaging and make the case for good value.

Wobble #1: You may now open your papers

The stress of exams and the fear of failure can cause some potential students to wobble. Now’s the time for a reassuring message. I really remember receiving a postcard with a lovely photo of the campus and a good luck message.

Relax! You’re doing great!

We know you can do it

By using personal pronouns and a confident tone, your reassuring voice reminds them you want them to succeed and join you in September.

Wobble #2: Debt and doubt

Exams are over. Time to relax and enjoy the long summer days. But students become vulnerable to wobble #2. Niggling doubts linger and the thought of huge debt haunts them. They continue to question whether university is the right decision.

Between exams ending and results day is an opportunity to build anticipation and excitement.

This is what your new home looks like!

Don’t hesitate. If you’ve got a question, we’ve got the answers.

Let them know what they can expect in their first week and dispel any worries by mentioning helplines or links to FAQs about starting their university adventure.

If you have strong alumni testimonials on your website, or a lively social media page, direct prospects here so they know what they can achieve if they stick with you.

Wobble #3: I can believe it… I’ve done it

Results day is your chance to join their celebrations:

You’ve smashed it!

We knew you would do amazing

Be part of their celebration and happiness. Relate on a human level and show you’re interested in them as an individual. Engage and stop them even thinking about looking for somewhere else through clearing.

If you suddenly send out mass emails demanding “please accept your place now”, you could destroy your brand image in seconds.

Wobble #4: I didn’t get the grades

At the other end of the spectrum, some students won’t receive the grades they were hoping for. They may have had their hearts set on another university but you need to show them what you can offer.

Our clearing helpline is open. We’re here to help!

Clearing. Just a bump on the road in your journey to success.

Students need clear, informative and friendly communication. Remember: it’s not about you. Although students may be panicked, they’re not desperate. And there’s still time to celebrate getting a place. Create a hashtag that allows them to share news of getting a place and build excitement on social media.

Wobble #5: I’m 18, scared and leaving home

After results and confirming places, there’s still time to wobble. Fears over tuition fees and value never disappear, let alone the fear of leaving home.

Take the opportunity to prepare students, not just with list of things to bring for their course, but with really engaging stories about life at your uni: Fresher’s week news, links to forums, messages from tutors, news about trips. Put them in touch through social media with other joiners and get the chat started before they even arrive.

10 things to do in your first week at University

Don’t forget to bring these essentials with you

To reduce the impact of wobble #5 make sure students feel prepared. They’ll settle in quicker and have a better time. A good start sets the foundations for success!

Although a case of the wobbles is completely normal, the right words can calm the fears and keep your applicants on track. Good communications with students makes them feel wanted and confident they’re making the right decision.

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This post was written by Hayley Cherrett