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Five Ways for Admissions Reps to Stand Out at College Fairs
Posted By: Eddie Francis on December 09, 2013

During my brief stint as an admissions director, I encouraged my staff and student volunteers to be engaging when talking to prospective students at college fairs. The fact of the matter was we were recruiting for an institution whose brand had been greatly compromised over the years, so we had to work twice as hard as our competitors. However, even elite institutions are finding that qualified students are more than willing to pass on their schools' big names for schools that show a real desire to have these students on their campuses.

First impressions make the difference, even in the higher education marketplace. Here are five ways admissions reps can great impressions at college fairs.

1. Step out! There are dozens to hundreds of colleges and universities at fairs. That provides an ideal opportunity for the biggest personalities to shine. One hard-and-fast rule I established with my recruiters was to stand in front of the table at ALL times. I wanted them to be aggressive yet approachable. When the student ambassadors implemented this strategy, they noticed that they collected more prospects than their neighbors while increasing awareness about the college.

2. Look inviting. Words cannot describe how much I despise it when I see reps on their phones or eating at their tables. People are attracted to those who look as if they invite conversation in fair settings. The most inviting reps are standing, smiling, and making eye contact with students and parents. I would even venture a guess that high quality students are most attracted to recruiters who look like the most inviting people.

3. Speak with confidence. Where the rubber meets the road, at college fairs, is the actual interaction. As a public speaking coach, I taught students to project over the college fair noise levels. Good projection is a sign of confidence. Reps should also be familiar enough with the institution's unique selling points to make a winning impression.

4. Ask questions and listen. One of the best sales strategies is asking questions. The best student I ever recruited came as a result of my stepping out to meet her, asking her questions, listening to her answers, and applying the college's academic programs to her career interests. By giving a prospect a chance to talk, you give your institution a chance to be the answer to his or her dreams.

5. Make the dream work through team work. I recently volunteered to work a college fair for my alma mater. Two very charming alumni showed up to volunteer, as well. Just as with the student ambassadors I trained, I found that having more than one engaging person at a table made an impression on students. I also found that if the team works together, more prospects can be gained. By doing that, you will have helped your institution accomplish two major goals--enhance its image and increase prospect numbers.

PICTURED: The student team I trained during my days at Paul Quinn College
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