How Confidence Impacts Student Enrollment

How Confidence Impacts Student Enrollment


We are three weeks into a new year. Are you fulfilling your resolutions? As you dive into a new semester, I urge you to spend a few minutes thinking about a core concept that changes everything—confidence.

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My holiday shopping adventure got me thinking about the concept. It’s two days before Christmas. I haven’t purchased gifts for my children—honestly, I usually procrastinate until everything else is done and the task is firmly planted in Steven Covey’s “Urgent and Important Bucket.”

My first stop? Google. I type in “snowboards” and two popular sporting good stores pop up. They seem to have equivalent products and prices. After a good half hour of comparisons, I realize that I know nothing about snowboards and decide to get a lesson in snowboards from the stores.

Lessons in Confidence and Customer Service

Store 1: I head to the first store to see what I can find. After searching for someone in the store for 15 minutes, one employee radios another employee to find out if they have snowboards and where they might be. Here’s a quick recap of the experience:

Store Employee: “Um, yeah, I’m not sure, but I think we only have one left. If we have them, they’re over in Aisle 7.”

After going to aisle 7, I ask, “Is there anywhere that might have a snowboard left that you know of?”

Store Employee: “Nope, not really sure. Sorry.”

Thinking to myself— in a disappointed state of mind—”Well, we might have to get gift cards this year. What’s Plan B?”

Store 2: I Google the second store and before driving an hour and dealing with mall traffic, I call the store. Brayden answers:

“So, I hear you’re purchasing snowboards for your children for Christmas. That’s awesome! I’ve been snowboarding for five years and can’t wait to learn more about your kids. Let’s start with the basics: tell me how old they are and their approximate weight and height. I’ll go and check options, and we’ll get you set up.”

Thirty minutes after my call with Brayden, I had two new snowboards and boots waxed at the service desk, paid for over the phone and ready to go.

“We open early at 8:00 a.m., so if you want to beat the traffic, that’s my recommendation,” Brayden kindly advised before we ended our call.

Not only was the experience amazing, I also felt good walking through a purchase decision with someone confident. Brayden hooked me up with a Christmas surprise my children love.

Applying this Lesson to Higher Ed

The student enrollment journey includes every touch point from the first Google search for your program to post-grad alumni outreach. The goal? Establishing confidence that your institution, certificate, class or program is a good fit that will provide value to the student.

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We created this self-evaluation to help you think more strategically about the prospective student experience. Spend a few hours with your team—organize a brown bag lunch, buy a few pizzas or host a happy hour. Print out and complete the activity below to evaluate your success at each touch point.


Who Does it Well?

A big shout out to the folks at E-Cornell. From Google search for marketing certificate programs through conversations and the recruitment funnel, they do a fantastic job of establishing confidence every step of the way.

Best wishes for a fabulous 2017! Interested in sharing an idea? Drop me a line at

Ann Oleson
Ann Oleson
January 24, 2017