Higher education is in flux. According to recent statistics from the National Student Clearinghouse, enrollment declined about 2 percent in the past year. Now, more than ever, academic administrators must make the most of what's available to encourage student engagement and achievement throughout the four year post-secondary education process.
One of the assets academic professionals can leverage is already close at hand. Initial research conducted at two higher educational institutions over the past year indicates that communication frequency between parent and student leads to greater academic success. How can colleges and universities make the most of parent engagement?
1. Get Smart. These days, the overwhelming majority, nearly 90 percent, of parents of college-age students carry smartphones. Maximize the use of smartphone apps that connect parents, students and schools.
2. Know the Communications Channels. Over three-quarters of parents surveyed interact with their on-campus children more than once a week, and the females take the lead. Young women text and call more frequently, as do moms.
3. Text Friendly. The preferred method of communication between parents and children is texting. Grade level and ethnicity have no material impact on frequency of communication. As young adults proceed through the four year college program, telephone calls become more commonplace.
4. New to This. Students who are first in their families to attend college are in more frequent communication with parents. Additionally, less educated parents interact more regularly with their college students. It's worth gearing parent communications to this subgroup.
5. Speaking of Success. In two separate surveys, the evidence points to parent communication as an influence on student success. Students who report that they have higher grades are the same pupils who speak to their parents more frequently. Students who speak or text with parents multiple times per day have the highest grades.