Explore the increasing importance of parent engagement during the admissions process and 4 ideas for impactful supporter communications.
By: Kyle Freelander
Engaging prospective and accepted students is a no-brainer in higher education admissions. But there’s another audience you should be actively engaging with: Parents.
Families and other supporters often play a key role in researching higher education options and helping students determine where to apply and enroll.
In fact, 98 percent of parents said they are dedicated to making sure their child goes to college, and 61 percent of students said their parents were the most important influencer in their enrollment decision.
An increasing number of students cite parents or guardians as one of their top five sources in their college search and decision processes — up to 48 percent in 2022 (compared to 37 percent in 2020).
Despite parents and other supporters playing an active role in the college consideration process, higher education institutions often overlook engaging them during admissions. Research shows that 77 percent of parents are very involved in the college planning process, but only 54 percent said they received communications from colleges addressed to them.
Additionally, recent research shows that 75 percent of parents say colleges should communicate with them directly — up from 71 percent in 2020.
Communicating with parents throughout the admissions process can help reassure families, highlight relevant information that addresses key concerns and points of interest, and build strong trusting relationships early on — which can directly impact where students apply and ultimately enroll.
Take a mobile-first approach to engaging parents
Text messages continue to be an important way to reach and engage key audiences, including families and other supporters. Research shows 98 percent of SMS messages get opened (compared to a 20% email open rate), and more than half (58.7) percent of people check texts within five minutes of receiving them.
When it comes to communications from colleges, this is an underutilized channel. Of parents who got communications from an institution, only 39 percent said they received a text message from a college.
How to improve your admissions process with mobile-first communications
What parents want to know during the admissions process
There’s a lot to share during the admissions process, and what parents want to know differs from what students may be interested in.
For example, 2022 research from EAB shows parents are most concerned about college cost, value, and their children’s safety and well-being.
Additionally, when asked what would improve parent communications from institutions, 53 percent of participating parents said information from parents of current students, 42 percent said graduation statistics/outcomes, and 41% said admission requirements and deadlines.
Parents also want to know about campus visit opportunities. Research shows 90 percent of parents say they are very or somewhat involved in scheduling and attending campus visits and 30 percent of parents thought communications to them could be improved by highlighting information about campus visit opportunities.
Engage parents throughout the admissions process — even without contact info
Don’t collect or have accurate parent contact information? No problem! With Full Measure’s engagement platform, you can actively engage parents and other key supporters even if you don’t have their contact information.
Simply design interactive content cards for families and/or other supporters to share relevant information throughout the admissions process.
With just a tap/click of a button, admitted students can then send these cards directly to their parents, friends, and other supporters.
4 ideas for admissions teams to engage parents and other supporters
There are many ways for Full Measure partners to engage with parents and supporters throughout the admissions process. Here are four ideas for engaging families:
- Enable students to share touring information with their families and other supporters
- Make it easy for newly accepted students to share the good news with their family and friends
- Send parent-specific content throughout the admissions process
- Engage parents around events (ex: sharing details ahead of time and following up with relevant information)
Ready to engage parents and other supporters throughout the admissions process?
Full Measure can help — even if you don’t have their contact information. Sign up for a free, no-obligation conversation to learn more.
Kyle Freelander (she/her/hers) is a passionate writer, former educator, and lifelong learner. She has taught English literature and writing courses in higher education, writing workshops in K-12 schools, and English and ESOL courses as a private tutor for students pre-K and up. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a BA in English (minor in Linguistics) from the University of Mary Washington. She currently serves as the Head of Content at Full Measure Education.