Today’s parents are more involved in the college admissions process than ever before. Just ask a college or admissions counselor who’s behind the line when fielding calls during the College App Season. According to a recent survey of college counselors, parents are integral in supporting their children with the following steps:
- Talking to their children about options for college
- Understanding the availability of financial aid and scholarships
- Searching online for schools that might be a good match
- Setting up campus visits
Regardless of one’s own opinions on “helicopter parents,” or personal philosophy about the ideal parent engagement, the statistics show the reality of the situation -- that communication with parents will help push prospective students towards enrollment.
In that case, it might be more useful to view parents as partners in college admissions rather than problems.
Parents play an important role in deciding which school to attend
Research from Ruffalo Noel Levitz shows that more than 50 percent of high school seniors described their parents as “very involved” in their college planning, with only five percent of college-bound seniors stating that their parents were not involved at all. 56 percent of parents reported helping with some admissions research and paperwork, while 13 percent reported doing most of the research and paperwork themselves.
When it finally comes time to deciding which school to attend, 82 percent of families reported that they would discuss the options and agree upon a school together. The students surveyed were not only satisfied with this high level of parental involvement, but 30 percent reported wishing their parents were even more involved in the admissions process.
Parent engagement can help minority and first-gen enrollment
According to a recent study CampusESP cosponsored with Ruffalo Noel Levitz, many parents who did not attend college themselves are unfamiliar with the options available to their children. As a result, minority and first-generation college students tend to overestimate the costs of college, underestimate the availability of financial aid, and start their college planning precariously late in high school. However, College Board Research shows that better parent engagement might be the answer to increase minority and first-gen enrollment. Minority students given additional college resources were up to 28 percent more likely to complete financial aid applications and 18 percent more likely to enroll in college.
Tarleton State, for example, uses CampusESP to better engage with prospective parents of all backgrounds. 40 percent of the parents that sign up for the service are parents of prospective students. These parents receive updates about academic quality, tuition costs, financial aid eligibility and campus life. 73 percent of these parents say this engagement helps them better support and advise their students.
Parents can strengthen your admissions strategy
CampusESP’s own research on parent engagement shows that parents want to be reading web content designed specifically for them. 90 percent of parents look online to research campuses. Many of those indicated interest for a special section just for parents, where they could find information pertaining to admissions, academics, scholarships and campus life. Our research also revealed what happens when this information is not accessible to parents: Unsurprisingly, one in ten parents are already posing as their students in order to complete forms or request admissions information on their behalf.
While schools like Tarleton and others are constantly working to recruit students, parents and families are on the other side of the equation trying to push their children in the right direction. Parents have the power to influence where their children apply, which campuses they visit, and what school they ultimately decide on. Now imagine the impact of turning a student’s key influencer into your college’s top advocate. Wouldn’t you focus your admissions strategy on parent engagement too?