While completing my education at a private liberal arts women’s college, I had the opportunity to work in the admissions office to help in the tireless efforts of recruiting students. Specifically, I worked in tele-counseling from 5PM-9PM Monday-Thursday, which involved “cold-calling” a list of names of prospective students, to hopefully engage in dialogue about our unique school with either the parents or the students. The task of contacting every name on this seemingly endless list, which consisted of more than 5,000 names, was subdivided among ten tele-counselors. This list was rotated through every few weeks or so, but as it became shorter week by week, by the end of each semester, the rotation of the names on this list meant that the same people would be re-contacted within a few days. Our college admissions phone number became a familiar number to many people, as it showed up on many of our contacts’ telephone caller ID systems.
Choosing a college is based on individual preferences and factors, does someone prefer a college in the city where life is spinning around them at a quick pace, or perhaps the more rural setting is more ideal…the student can hunker down and focus on academics. Would the student prefer a single-sex college or co-education college? This is a big factor, in choosing our school, since we are exclusively a women’s college. Also important to consider, was the prospective student’s tentative major, would our college live up to the student’s expectations for their preferred subjects of study? While my experiences lent a positive perspective, I found that offering our college’s website provided an unbiased opportunity for the student to research more about the school and programs of study. After offering our college website and pertinent phone numbers to the prospective student, I would courteously hint at ending the phone call, and I would move on to the next contact on my never ending list. Our initial dialogue with the students and parents had to be concise, in order to contact as many names, as quickly and efficiently as possible. The positive phone interactions, allowed me to boast about my overall positive experiences and growth from attending the college that I was attempting to “sell” to their daughter.
Once we successfully gained contact with a student and enticed them enough to apply to our college, usually after a few weeks of follow-up phone calls, we offered the prospective student a paper or online application. After the student agreed to submit an application, they were transferred to an Admissions Counselor. Our admissions counselors would handle the remaining steps of processing new applicants, along with the subsequent months of follow-up phone calls and postal mailings involved in keeping the students’ interest in our college, piqued. Overall, it was this opportunity that allowed me to gain an insight in the admissions process, and understand how the college pursued me, my application and later…my money!
For us tele-counselors, moving quickly through the names and having a high number of successful contacts was very important to everyone analyzing our numbers. Each year we were hoping to exceed our admissions numbers and academic rankings from the previous school year. However, this would sometimes become a difficult feat as we had to deal with the negativity of “cold-calling” students and their families.. As with the aforementioned rotated contact lists, it would often become apparent that students and parents didn’t want to be bothered by a representative from our school. Some approached this in a kind, yet affirming “NO” answer; while others would rudely hang-up before a word is spoken, or would offensively tell me not to contact their house or family again-their daughter would not be interested in our school. This type of phone interactions that involved rude parents and/or students initially left me slightly defeated and guarded in my next attempts of contacting another name on this list. This feeling of defeat was short lived when the negative feelings were replaced by a boost of confidence and determination , fueled by my passion for the college, that would compel me to boldly move on to next few names, hoping to have the opportunity to offer a piece of my story. Besides, if it wasn’t for the hard work and persistence of someone pursuing me during their tele-counseling opportunity, then I wouldn’t have ever stepped foot onto the quaint and beautiful college campus that I love so much. It is my hope that I can encourage my daughters to attend my alma mater.