Parent contact information is a hot commodity in higher education. Colleges and universities have become increasingly more focused on parent engagement, whether it’s for the purpose of admissions, enrollment management, student affairs or fundraising. The idea is that parents can help you reach your higher ed goals… if you know how to reach them.
Surveys of parent communication trends show that millennial parents prefer to engage through email. A 2017 Ruffalo Noel Levitz study reports that up to 83% of parents check their email at least once a day. At CampusESP, our colleges and universities average a 54% email open rate for parent newsletters and alerts.
Knowing that today’s parents are invested and responsive, perhaps even more so than their students, our schools are emailing parents with:
- Admissions materials
- Newsletters detailing on-campus opportunities, events and deadlines
- Student academic and financial data alerts
- Parent-specific opportunities, such as Family Weekend, parent orientation, and parent association events
So where do the email addresses come from?
One of our newest customers, Roane State Community College, sought out parent engagement as a retention solution. Once we got the CampusESP parent portal live and running, there was no record of any parent email addresses to import into the system. Together we designed a comprehensive solution to find parent email addresses and keep them rolling in. Here’s our model.
Begin collecting parent emails even before the student arrives on campus.
- On the application. Add parent contact information to the Family History section that most applications already include.
- Campus tours. Include a field for contact information in the tour registration form. Follow up after the tour to urge them to apply, and if they are accepted, follow up to help with the decision to enroll.
- Inquiry forms. Allow prospective students and parents to request more information, and have them provide an email address to be contacted at.
There are plenty of opportunities to request additional information after the student enrolls.
- Parent orientations, Family Weekend and other on-campus events. Have parents register in advance and provide contact information in the form. In addition, arrange a sign-in table where parents can check in when they arrive.
- Parents Association. Offer your parents the opportunity to get more involved. Many Parent Associations will require an application or registration form that collects demographic information.
- Emergency contact forms. Require an emergency contact to be submitted with housing or registration forms. 9 times out of 10 the emergency contact is Mom or Dad, or whichever guardian is invested in a student’s success.
If you don’t have any system in place yet, don’t be overwhelmed! All you’ll need is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to store email addresses and manage parent data. You can also check out Google Forms as a simpler (and free!) option to collect basic information. But before you turn to outside solutions, make sure to check inward first. You might be surprised what kind of parent data you can pull out of Admissions, Housing, or other campus departments.