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3 min read

An ode to the admissions road warrior

An ode to the admissions road warrior

What’s the ROI of the travel season? That’s easy, right?

It’s the travel budget and cost of incidentals divided by the number of inquiries. Then you apply all other yield math to those inquiries and there’s your rationale for sending admissions officers on the road for weeks and months at a time.

But the real calculus on the actual ROI for travel season is both deeper and more obvious than that. With a good portion of the roughly 13,500 admissions officers hitting the road at generally the same time year in and year out to visit countless high schools and college fairs, certainly there has to be more to it than can be explained by simple arithmetic.

Having entered higher education late in my career, this was one of the many lessons I had to learn in my first couple of years as a vice president in an institution. 

The ROI on travel lives in the stories that first-year students bring to campus each fall. 

Students would tell me about how they had never heard of our not-on-College-Gameday-each-week school and that they would never have considered leaving their home state, but were won over by the enthusiasm and kindness of our traveling admissions team.

These stories are about how students found out about a place designed just for people like them who want to become just like the school's alumni. It’s about the connection they made with that coffee-drinking, Kind Bar-eating road warrior that may only earn $45,000 a year, but for the love of the mission, piqued that student’s interest enough to fill out an inquiry card.

It turns out travel season is about one of the most fundamental things in life: the relationship

Looking back now, it’s easy to remember students crediting counselors for helping bring them to campus. When played out over years and decades, you realize that these are the stories that become your institutional reputation and the ethos that keeps you relevant.

To my former colleagues in the cabinet, avoid relegating yourself just to the funnel metrics. And, the next time you say ‘so long’ to your admissions counselors as they stuff their luggage full of brochures and hustle for the airport, remember to show an extra bit of gratitude. More than even your website, they’re stewards of your brand and one of the biggest reasons you get to talk about yield numbers with the president from the comfort of your home office.

Give them more than an Amazon gift card

Admissions work has always been challenging and is generally reserved for people with a passion for education and a calling to help others find their path in life. With the impact of the demographic and search cliffs about to take root, this already tough, sometimes thankless, career path is about to get harder.

Gift cards are nice, but let’s face it, they’re not in admissions for the money. They’re in it for the love of the game. Their motivation is to succeed in bringing the best students to campus – students who will become alumni and a permanent part of the community.  

This deserves a bit more than a gift card. 

Give your team the tools they need for success

Like you and your teams on the road, CollegeVine believes wholeheartedly in the relationship driven approach to recruitment.  It’s why we’ve opened up our network for free to enable admissions teams to begin connecting with unlimited students on CollegeVine before they hit the road.

Admissions teams can join the CollegeVine platform for free and connect with students at scale. Using our campaign builder tool, your team can reach out to students that fit into specific criteria. Your team can filter by region, GPA, test scores, persona, preferences and many other options in order to get a head start on building relationships before they travel.

Free Tier Campaign

You or your team members can create an account on CollegeVine for free to get started. 

Road warriors offer so much more than on-paper ROI

At commencement this coming Spring when you see new graduates stopping to hug and pose for pictures with what looks like college staffers, don’t bother thinking twice about it. It’s more than likely the admissions counselor they met in high school four or five years ago.

And, don’t be hurt when they don’t pose with you.

Just as coffee is for closers, hugs and pics are for road warriors. 

After all, we’re just administrators in corner offices doing grade school math in Excel spreadsheets.

José Mallabo leads marketing at CollegeVine but in a previous life served in cabinet level positions driving awareness, admissions and enrollment at Morehouse College, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and Helms College. He has also served as consultant to presidents at Clark Atlanta University, Shaw University, and St. Clair County Community College.

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