I know what I don't want...

“I know what I don’t want…” Right off the bat I want you to take a piece of a paper (actually or in your mind) and for 60 seconds start listing off the things your department/office doesn’t do well. These can be things you want to change, things that you see and think could be improved, just things that drive you crazy.

Go. Make that list.

Still going? Hurry, time is running out.

Okay, time’s up. Put that piece of paper away. Reset the clock. For the next 60 seconds I want you to list off things that your department/office do well.

That’s all you got? Keep thinking.

Okay, time’s up.

Chances are that your list of things that could be improved out numbers the things that you currently do well. You aren’t alone. My list was lopsided too. This was an exercise our VPSA had us do on a directors day retreat and he made us do it orally. You can imagine our dismay when we all spoke up for things we could improve and were left searching for words when it was time to say what we do well.

Now to tie this into enrollment management…without being too negative, but really negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones.

Would it be better to show students what they risk NOT accomplishing if they don’t attend XYZ event? Enroll is ABC program? Fill out MNO paperwork?

Perhaps instead of asking students what their goals are, ask them first what their fears are and work with them from there.

Wait, you are still questioning the effectiveness of negativity versus positivity aren’t you? I’ll leave you with this and hope you continue the discussion about the two approaches.

You may be familiar with the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” So tell me, what would you have done unto you? This would be as hard to come up with as what your department/office does well. Perhaps I don’t mind people using my last name to call me, does that mean you wouldn’t mind either? Now think of the golden rule like this,

“What is hateful to you, do not do unto others.” Doesn’t that cut down the questioning or misinterpretation. I’m sure you know what you definitely don’t want people to do to you; chances are if you don’t like it others don’t either.

What do you think? Do we sugar coat too much? Should we try to be a bit more negative in our approach to enrollment management and recruitment? Oh, and “you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar” is not a valid response.