By Ethan Penland, Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
Every year, enrollment management teams develop recruitment plans, communication campaigns, and visitor experiences for prospective students. Of course, that is, and should be the top priority. But, what about prospective parents?
According to Niche, 91% of parents report that they will be involved in their student’s college search process. It should make you stop, think, and reconsider that the college search is no longer ONLY the student’s experience–it’s a family experience. With that in mind, let me give you a few quick tips and perspectives to consider when engaging with parents for the upcoming year.
Revisit how you are capturing parent information. Many institutions rely on parent information to come in from the application mark in the college search process. Unfortunately, that is a missed opportunity to not only engage prospective parents at the prospect or inquiry stage, but it could also be a little too late to meaningfully engage parents. I encourage you to look at the opportunities that are available to you now. Consider capturing parent information on campus tour or event registrations, a dedicated parent section on your website, and/or be willing to ask your prospect or inquiry students to help you gather parent or guardian information.
Create dedicated communications for parents. The days of CC’ing parents aren’t over, yet, but they should be. The reason why is because parents want dedicated communication sent to them. Not only that but they want it to sound like it was written just for them and not a copy and paste from a student email. If 91% of prospective parents are expected to participate in the college search, dedicate communications that are specifically for them. As you produce these communications, your content should be written in a way that helps them support their prospective students throughout the college search process.
Give them their own visitor experience opportunities. The visitor experience is not just for students–it’s for any guest on the tour, and many times, the guest of the students on your visit or at your event is the parent or family member of that student. So, consider how you can engage and provide them with a meaningful experience, too. For example, what would the return on investment be if you offered parents or family members of admitted students a button or sticker that they can proudly wear on the campus tour or at your event that indicates their student has been admitted? Wouldn’t that create the kind of emotions and feelings you would want them to have?
Furthermore, include in-person or virtual sessions for parents, but make the events exclusively for them. Discuss specific parts of the college search process, but offer them additional tips and resources that they can not only be informed about but use to help their prospective students.
Parent engagement has always been a secondary priority, but as we have seen, it’s becoming imperative that we offer them an experience that is entirely their own. The more you involve them in their student’s college search experience, the better your chances of them becoming an asset to your recruitment initiatives than an obstacle.
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