The teenage years are characterized by a desire for independence and the ability to make choices without parents interfering. However, these attitudes seem to change when it comes time to decide on higher education. In a 2022 report from EAB about parent involvement in college recruitment, 48% of the students surveyed expressed that their parents were among their main sources of information about admissions.
Statistics like these imply that college recruiters and marketers can’t just consider the needs and interests of prospective students when creating messaging and materials. Equally as important is what their parents value during the college selection process. AMNY Education Marketing discusses parents’ key concerns to help recruitment teams optimize their efforts for marketing success.
Emphasis on Direct Communication
One of the top demands from parents is direct communication. This interest is due in part to rising costs and concerns about whether or not a college education yields much return on investment. It also coincides with the growing number of college-educated parents familiar with the selection process.
Many recruiters and marketers wonder when to begin direct marketing to parents. Ideally, it should begin early in the student’s high school career. Effective direct communication recognizes parents’ distinct preferences and concerns and customizes messaging to resonate with them. For recruiters, the benefit is gaining potential allies when students begin exploring their options more intensively.
Direct communication isn’t only important for those parents who attended college. It’s also vital for parents less knowledgeable about the selection and admissions process because it reassures them that someone is there to guide them.
Parents’ Concerns Develop as Graduation Draws Closer
Another aspect to consider is that parents’ interests may not be the same when their children start high school as they are during their senior year. In the beginning, many parents want basic information about schools, such as their programs and student life. They may be interested in scheduling a campus visit.
As the student enters their junior or senior year, the decision becomes more real. They may want their child to narrow the choice to a select few schools and get into the finer details about cost and the admissions process.
How should recruiters respond? For one, they can tailor messaging for different types of parents depending on their inquiries. For example, an email about upcoming tour dates can be focused more on experiencing the campus and getting a taste of student life. Conversely, emails about admissions deadlines can stress how important it is for students to gather the necessary documents to apply. The shift in tone correlates with the sentiments parents share at these different stages.
More generally, maintaining an intuitive website is important for ensuring parents locate the information they need, whether it’s about academics, athletics, admissions, or anything in between.
Cost Is a Major Concern
Since many parents help their children financially with college, getting cost information is often their top priority. This stands to reason, as the cost may inhibit not only whether or not a student can attend a specific school, but whether or not they can attend college at all.
The problem is that many parents aren’t aware of the actual costs of an education at a particular college or university. Self-service tools are available for comparing costs, but these tools seldom address the whole cost. It’s also common for parents to think about sticker price and not net cost.
Recruiters can ease these concerns by providing web pages dedicated to cost and value. These pages should be updated frequently to reflect the most current costs. Consider translating them into multiple languages and ensure you equip them with accessibility functions so parents don’t have to contact a school representative for more insight. If they have questions, be sure they can easily locate contact information for the financial aid office.
A Multi-Channel Approach May Work Best
Although direct communication might have the greatest impact in reaching parents, it’s not the only option. For instance, many parents of college-age children are now in the Generation X group. While most research finds no generation is more online than Gen Z, Generation X spends a considerable amount of time online, as well.
Recruiters have a range of marketing capabilities at their disposal; they can create a consistent experience for parents through synchronized messaging and imagery spread across multiple channels.
Experience Success with College Recruitment Marketing
When colleges market to potential students and their parents, they engage two separate audiences with the same goal of finding the best school to pursue higher education. Recruiters seeking guidance with marketing efforts can turn to the award-winning team at AMNY Education Marketing. We work to understand the unique story of your institution and craft a strategic and creative marketing plan. Contact us today to learn more about our services and capabilities.