Saturday, December 13, 2008

How I Got a 100% Response Rate to Cold Calls

Conducting the research for my book, How to Get an Ivy League Education at a State University, required my getting 115 specific colleges to submit a set of six in-depth student questionnaires and one administration questionnaire.

I was able to get all 115 sets. How?

1. I phoned (leaving voicemail if necessary) to say the packet of questionnaires was coming, and passionately explained how much students would benefit from the book, which would be based on the questionnaire responses.
2. I immediately sent the packet.
3. The day after they received the packet, I called (again, leaving voicemail if necessary), asking if they'd mailed the completed questionnaires back. Again, I passionately explained the importance of doing so.
4. If I didn't get the packet back quickly, I called again the next day and, if necessary, the day after that. 

I never had to make more than 3 follow-up calls--I got the completed packet from 115 of the 115 colleges. 

So, in short, my approach to getting a high response rate:
Call (passionately), email, call, call, call.


Dave said...

What is an Ivy League education? Like public universities, the Ivy League schools offer MBA degree programs. An MBA is no mark of scholarly achievement.

Other specialty degrees are also a waste. They are only offered because they are highly profitable. The courses listed in their catalogues are just parts/components of specialties, and the distinguished academics almost never explore anything beyond them. Just looking at the catalogues is demoralizing. Like State U, Ivy League departments isolate themselves in their domains (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences), which goes to show that there is no coherency and no coordination in formulating a quality liberal education. The academic faculties are nothing but a bunch of carnival barkers looking to lure students into their caves (ie pre-med, pre-law, pre-business etc.), where the students take all the 'core' courses required for the respective major. Electives? The undergraduate will shop around for anything that tickles his fancy. Again, no consensus can be reached among the academic domains. They can't seem to define what an undergraduate education is or should be. One has nothing to say to the other. It is the blind leading the blind, as the saying goes.

What is the end product? The end product is a graduate that has no more profound wisdom than that Jim-Bob character from The Waltons. He is tech savvy, but has a limited knowledge of the Western cultural tradition. He has no experience in dealing with the meaning of life and other higher things. What is the meaning of life? How can I live truthfully in the world? What are the consequences of living truthfully in the world? Does living truthfully in the world require a degree of suffering? Will my fate be the same as that of Jesus Christ or the Saints, Socrates, or Joan of Arc? Does objective truth even exist? Is it possible for me to incorporate reason into a providential worldview? What is the best way to live a civic existence while upholding natural law doctrine and its main tenets (the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) as the highest value? He is not burdened by any of these questions. He does not identify with the Romantics in any way. And the relics sitting in the museums - The pictures hanging on the walls of le Louvre mean nothing to him. He just sees a bunch of two dimensional figures. He has no understanding of the symbolism or the message Michael Angelo was trying to communicate. The undergraduate is never burdened by any of these things!

I don’t think it matters where Johnny or Joanie go for a degree. Today, undergraduate education is a waste of time and money. I know mine was.

Marty Nemko said...

Indeed, so many people at State U or Ivy U end up feeling they could have made better use of the time and money.

The point of that book is that you can often get as much or more from a lower-cost, less prestigious public college than from a wildly expensive prestigious private one--including career connections.

Leslie said...

The only reason I feel my college degree was worth anything was that it taught me how to learn new skills quickly. I have had to get up to speed with new software over the last 25 years of my graphic design career and I was able to do it faster than many of my contemporaries.


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