As parents of teenagers and college students ourselves, we’re thinking about college with fresh perspective these days. How involved are we when it’s time to start researching, visiting, and decision-making?
Will we subtly press our preferences on our children? Probably. Will we make information-gathering phone calls and website visits? Sure. Will we visit campuses? With pom-poms waving!
But what about the next steps—Will we complete admissions applications for our kids? Of course not. Or would we? This one really has us thinking, because a recent Ruffalo Noel Levitz report indicates that 62% of parents of seniors have completed college applications for their student. So maybe, just maybe—like most parents—we’ll find ourselves getting involved in ways we never predicted.
We’re not here to offer advice to helicopter parents. But we can help you most effectively communicate with these parents. And that’s going to be essential if you want to reach more students. Your message, your methods, and even your school’s personality are all being analyzed by these keen gatekeepers. And in one way or another, their opinions will influence their children’s decisions.
How do you best communicate with them? Printed pieces still get parents’ attention. They read them. Your website is an indispensable source of information. They’re all going there. The personal touch may win them over. They’re listening.
What’s most important about the message you’re giving them? From our own experience and what we’re hearing from other parents, we have some ideas of what they need to believe about your school —and some questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re meeting their expectations.
This is a great path for my child’s future.
Is this a place where students discover and develop passions and dreams? Build career paths?
This is a place my child will thrive.
Are the other students the kind of kids parents want their children to have as friends? Will faculty care about their needs and help them succeed? Will there be plenty of opportunities for meaningful involvement? Will the environment nurture the faith and values important to their families?
My child will be safe and happy here.
Does the campus have adequate security structure and policies? Does campus culture promote inclusivity such that my child will be accepted and find friends?
I can afford this, and it’s worth the investment.
What kind of financial aid is offered? What kind of job prospects will my student have after graduation?
If you can confidently check off all these questions, don’t be shy in telling parents. Be sure you’re including these points upfront in your marketing, and reassure them in your personal communication. Making positive connections with parents is critical to winning the loyalty of your potential future students. Show them your best!