Navigating the Successful Campus Tour
My dad has always loved to take us for a ride. I grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York State where the winding roads and farm and river vistas are limitless and our family history is deep.
Taking our rides together during my visit this summer - my dad is now 82 - there was one major change. This time, I took the wheel and he was the navigation and storyteller along the way.
I was struck that this is the key to a successful campus tour - let your prospective family do the storytelling and navigation, while you do the “driving.”
In today’s market, the time to woo a family is significantly abbreviated and families’ choices are ever increasing - so there is no room for error when the prospective family reaches out to tour your campus.
To ensure the prospective family leaves your campus feeling connected to your school and ready to take the next step be strategic, but genuine:
- Do your Due Diligence. When possible, get to know a bit about the family and student before they arrive on campus. Of course, this isn’t possible when they just walk in for a tour. However, in all other circumstances take the time to do some “research,” pre-visit i.e. engage in conversation beyond setting up the date and time to the extent possible, talk to the parent ambassador who referred the family, etc. With the right information ahead of time, you can make sure the prospective family meets key people on their campus tour.
- Listen. When the family arrives to tour, invite them to sit down and chat before you collect their data and head out to tour the campus. Ask open ended questions, listen to their story and focus on the student. For example, “Tell me what brings you to our school.” “Share with me a few things you like about your current school.” “When you’re not in school, tell me what you enjoy doing.” Open ended questions are much less intimidating and lend themselves to putting the prospective student and parents at ease.
- The Tour. Customize the campus tour to address the student and parents’ interests, priorities, and reasons they have taken time to visit your campus. Intertwine your school’s core messages and campus highlights with what the student and parents have identified is important to them.
As a new admission season approaches, remember to genuinely engage with prospective families as soon as possible, collect some history, listen to their story and enjoy touring your campus through each new family’s eyes.
Kate Weinstock, CAEP
Associate Director of Admission
Cannon School, North Carolina