NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – They say you only have one chance to make a first impression – and that applies to college, too.
Making prospective students aware of a school and getting them to consider it are key early steps in the admissions process.
Recently at Bethel College, adding to the existing Admissions staff efforts, a group of students from Bobby Lloyd’s Sales class have started calling prospective students.
The class, which Lloyd, associate professor of business, is teaching for the second time, is a collaborative effort, working closely with Andy Johnson, vice president for admissions, to not only boost the number of potential new students to whom Bethel is able to reach out, but also to give important real-world experience to the students doing the calling.
“The first time I taught this class, I had the students make a cold call in a role-playing activity,” Lloyd said. “That project fell short, in that students only had to make one call, and did not get to experience the emotion of making actual cold calls.
“Real cold calling is hard. You get hung up on sometimes. You have to make a pitch that your prospect would find compelling enough to continue the conversation.”
Making that pitch to a prospective student is something Johnson believes current students have a unique advantage on.
“Current students are typically the best recruiters for any college,” Johnson said. “When a current student can articulate the great aspects of their Bethel experience with a potential student, it resonates.
“Even admissions counselors who attended Bethel and have their own Bethel-student stories are, at times, perceived as ‘paid to make it sound good,’ while current students are not.”
Justin Haflich, senior from Pretty Prairie and a member of the Sales class, appreciates the chance to gain some practical experience, but can also relate personally to connecting with students.
“When I was a high school senior playing sports, I always thought it’d be cool if I got a call from a college saying that they want me to come to their school and play for their team,” Haflich said. “With me being a student, I already have something in common with the prospect before I even call them and that helps break the ice.”
The class, which concludes at the end of the fall semester in December, includes a point system to track the success of each student’s efforts on the basis of number of prospects identified, number of prospects who submit applications and number of prospects who make a campus visit.
“If the class averages 75 points [per person], they will earn a trip, much like real salesmen are incentivized with sales trips,” Lloyd said. “They are striving to reach this goal, and it is driving success in very real ways.”
From an Admissions standpoint, the progress and continued work of the class is already a success.
“I told Bobby when we first met to talk about the idea that I had not heard of this happening in my knowledge of private, Christian higher education,” Johnson said. “To have students learning about sales, telephone communication and the value of the institution that they chose to attend is a unique experience for the students.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Bobby to track the data from this class and see what he wants to do with the course moving forward.”
Haflich, too, considers the class a success, but for a more personal reason.
“I see this class helping me a lot to be able to use my sales strategies in a real-world situation,” he said. “I am a real-world, or a hands-on learner, and every one of Professor Lloyd’s classes lets you learn by actual experience, which I really enjoy.”