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Part 2 – Admissions Phone Skills

admissions representative on a call with a prospective student

Part 2 - The Phone: Great Outcomes Starts with Great Phone Skills

70% of converting a prospect into a student happens over the phone

The phone has been the primary tool for admissions teams for over 30 years. However, over the past decade. Admissions phone skills have undergone a transformation in how we connect with one another. Depending on the generation your prospective students belong to, they may have a different attitude toward the phone. Therefore, it’s essential to provide prospective students with the flexibility to contact you in the manner most comfortable to them. This is a short list of some of the more popular contact methods:

  • Texting
  • Chatting
  • Direct Messages (DMs)
  • SnapChat
  • WhatsApp
  • Comments on posts
  • And more…

Admissions representatives can no longer rely solely on making phone calls. It would be prudent for your team to become proficient in these other contact methods. Notably, email is a different communication channel that deserves its own discussion in a future post. Of course, the effectiveness of these methods depends on the specific generation being worked with and the internal technical infrastructure of the institution.

Equipping admissions representatives with an array of communication tools gives them the ability to engage in one-on-one conversations in a way that is most comfortable for their prospective students. This flexibility will give your team an edge that can improve their show rates.

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The Art of Effective Phone Techniques for Higher Show Rates

Simply taking or making calls is not enough. Being friendly isn’t good enough. Asking a lot of questions doesn’t get the job done. And giving up after one conversation or phone call just demotivates you and can lead to other bad habits. So, what does it take to bring up that show rate? Here are some of the most important tips for mastering phone techniques to significantly boost show rates:

On average, it takes about three conversations before a prospect decides to show to their appointment


  1. Active Listening: 
    Active listening is a cornerstone of a successful admissions conversations. It involves listening carefully to what the other person is saying and then providing feedback in your own words to demonstrate understanding. This technique rapidly builds rapport, fostering trust and encouraging prospective students to visit the campus.

  2. Flexible Script:
    Memorizing a script and then using it as a conversational guide, rather than a rigid word-by-word script, can lead to more genuine conversations. It can be helpful to keep a printed copy near the phone to have handy as you talk to a prospective student.

  3. Direct Instruction:
    When the advisor needs the caller to act, instead of asking them to do something, instruct them. For example, rather than asking if they have a pen and paper, direct them to “grab a pen and paper to write down the address.” This approach has proven to be a game changer in improving show rates and positions the advisor with greater authority.

  4. They Can Hear Your Smile:
    The adage “They can hear you smile over the phone” holds true. Your tone and attitude profoundly impact interactions with prospective students. Being aware of your emotional state during phone calls is essential because your feelings project through your voice. Utilize motivational materials and techniques to maintain a positive mindset, especially when engaging over the phone. Additionally, make sure you sound confident and speak clearly. It is good form to match the caller’s tone and volume so that they subconsciously feel more comfortable with you.

  5. Make a Habit of Good Note Taking:
    While technology has its merits, especially in larger corporate-structured schools, it’s important to consider that prospective students may not feel at ease hearing you type their every word during a conversation. Furthermore, typing while they speak may come across as rude.
    1. Consider adopting the practice of taking notes by hand (on paper). In the past, we would keep a notepad and pen handy, jotting down the date, the prospect’s name, phone number, lead source, and relevant notes, foe each conversation with a prospective student. Typically, we’d record about 2-3 leads per page, depending on the conversation’s depth.
    2. Between calls or tasks, we’d quickly transfer these notes into the CRM system. This method allowed us to maintain our notepads organized chronologically, providing a reliable backup in case of any CRM-related issues.
    3. By making a habit of effective note taking, you demonstrate your commitment to listening and understanding prospective students. Manual note taking is also a proven method for retaining information.

  6. Keep It Short and Sweet:
    It doesn’t take much time to build good rapport with a caller. Within 2-3 minutes, if you control the conversation, you can collect the caller’s information, purpose, and provide them a compelling reason to visit you. In a short phone call, it is important to cover the following points:

    1. Know Who You Are Talking To. Collect their contact information, confirm they are calling for information for themselves or someone else.

    2. Ask Why.
      Understand why they are calling at this moment; why not before, why not tomorrow? Remember, something happened in their life that triggered them to take action.
      1. Ask why the decided to contact your institution. Remember, they may be calling around just gathering information. You want to them to be aware of why they are calling.

      Why should the prospective student have any compelling reason to visit your campus if you give them all the information over the phone? There is so much more they need to learn about your school before they can make an informed decision to enroll, and they will not get all that over a phone call. By far, this is the one mistake we constantly see amongst rookie admissions reps, and it is probably the number one reason they have low show rates. If you answer the caller’s every question, then they have no reason to visit your school. They will make an uninformed decision about your school without seeing it for themselves firsthand. There is great value in conducting a campus tour. Answer enough questions to appease them but for more detailed information, it is best to come in.

    4. Get them to commit.
      At the end of the call, have them repeat back to you the appointment date and time and how will they be getting there. Sometimes, you can purposely give wrong information and see if they correct you to confirm they are committed.

How Can We Help Your School Grow?

We are putting together resources for colleges and trade schools to be better equipped to grow their institutions. Marketing is not just running ads or composing clever gimmicks, real higher education marketing is about finding better ways to connect with your ideal students. The blogs and upcoming videos, podcasts, webinars and more are designed to better help schools reach their growth goals.

If you are finding value from this article, consider subscribing for part 3 in our admissions training series. Coming soon will be new podcasts, webinars, and videos to support our schools in their growth journeys.

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Who Will Benefit from Reading This Article?

college admissions training guideThis article shares helpful ideas to lower marketing costs while growing enrollments. The tips can help schools double their number of students in a smart way.It is specifically written for the following audience:

School Decisions Makers:

The article is written for people who run different types of schools. We explain ideas that owners, leaders, and management teams may find useful.

Some parts may seem familiar to those working in private career schools over the past 15 years. We take proven methods that successful admissions and marketing departments use. Then we update the methods to work well in today’s landscape.

If you own a school, lead admissions or marketing, or direct a department, this guide is for you. It provides a straightforward framework to:

  • Increase how many students inquire about the school
  • Grow the number of applications
  • Boost enrollments

All this without spending more on advertising. We summarize years of experience into actionable tactics to improve operations.

We believe the insights here give a practical way to grow your student population. We hope you find this article helpful. Please let us if there are any particular challenges you face that we can help provide guidance for!

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