Move over lawnmower parents. You’re not the only ones cutting down every obstacle in your child’s path towards college admission.
More and more, parents want to be included in the various steps it takes to go from interested high schooler to enrolled First-Year.
It’s incredibly important to include parents in the conversation. After all, they are entrusting institutions with their children for four years.
A proactive marketing strategy not only includes them in the conversation, but creates direct lines of communication between the school and the parents.
That’s why it’s extremely crucial for schools to have their own parent communication campaigns. Whether it be a print publication, an email series, postcards, digital ads, or even texting, communication directed at parents shows them we hear you and want to answer your questions.
Why It’s Important to Have Parent Comms
From what they read online to what they hear from friends and family, parents can have a lot of influence over their child’s college choice.
Our research shows that Mom and Dad collect and sort print material for later discussion and review.
So that postcard you sent to a student? Guess who takes a once-over before handing it to their child or their trash can?
Having campaigns directed at parents shows that you understand their concerns, frustrations, and questions about the college application process. It helps them feel a part of the conversation, not only between them and their child, but also between them and your school.
Additionally, parents can act as an influencer for students to finish aspects of their application or post-application journey, like submitting a deposit or signing up for orientation.
Topics Parents Want to Hear About
This should come as a surprise to no one. Whether they’re footing the bill or talking their child through the loan process, parents want to know how affordable your college or university is.
It’s important to be direct here. Give them facts and stats: how many students qualify and receive financial aid, the average amount of student loan debt upon graduation, and/or the average financial aid package at your school.
As well, you can give them important instructions on applying for Financial Aid via the FAFSA and set up a direct line of communication between the parents and financial aid officers.
While you cannot share financial aid information directly with a parent, using a sophisticated comm plan within your CRM, you can present personas, testimonials, and hypotheticals using ranges, averages, and whatever other scenarios a student may find themselves in.
Did you know that, on average, your state residents with over 3.5 GPA receive [x] dollars in scholarships and are renewable for four years?
Similarly, discussing outcomes hits on the parent’s rational thinking.
What is the earning average of your schools’ alumni? What was the average length of time it took for alumni to secure employment or further their education post-graduation?
You can certainly brag on alumni highlights and success stories, but it’s important to maintain honesty here. Not every graduate goes on to start a Fortune 500 company, and parents know that.
If your school has a large alumni pool, touch on the networking opportunities attending your institution would give the student.
Above all, we want to quell a parent’s fear that their child’s degree will solely function as expensive wall decor.
Campus and Safety
Don’t get it twisted— parents will be the first to complain about mold in the dorms or vermin in the buildings.
Before you can boast about your campus atmosphere, you’ll want to make sure you walk the walk before you talk the talk. Ensure dormitories are in livable condition and promised amenities actually function at their best capacity.
And of course, they will want to know that their precious child is safe while earning their degree!
If your school has low crime rates and lives in a relatively safe area, highlight that!
If that’s not the case, showcase how your school actively works to combat crime through campus police presence, night-time safe ride services, and a responsive Title IX office.
Social Life and “Fit”
Finally, parents want to know that their child will not only be thriving academically but socially at your school.
Small schools can touch on the intimacy of their campus—how everyone knows one another and the ease of making friends.
Larger schools can use their population to their benefit by showcasing the diversity in their student body—how there is a place for every type of person at their institution.
Again, personalization can really come in handy here if your office has the time and resources to do so. Let’s say a prospect is a part of their high school’s theater department. You can then highlight to parents your school’s drama club, improv club, or even show choir.
Likewise with student athletes— even if they’re not playing for the school’s official teams, intramurals are a great opportunity for them to make friends and stay active in the sport they love.
If your school is religiously affiliated, this might be a good opportunity to emphasize how students can grow their faith at your institution, be that through religious services or volunteer opportunities.
The Value Proposition in Your CTA
Like all effective communication, it’s important to include a call-to-action so the parent knows what steps to take following your outreach.
More importantly than a call-to-action is the value proposition of taking that action.
What does a student achieve by submitting their deposit early? Priority sign-up for orientation or dorm selection? Perhaps a voucher for textbooks if they visit campus before enrolling, like our partner school Holy Cross College does.
Whatever it is, make sure it’s apparent what the parent and their child get for taking your requested action.
Enhance Your Parent Communications with The Parish Group
If you’re looking to begin or enhance current parent communications, The Parish Group is here to help.
Our enrollment and higher ed marketing experts can help you create eye-catching materials with strong copy designed to move students further down the funnel, (even if that’s through nudging their parents).
We’d love to talk to you through our strategies for parent outreach. Learn more by reaching out at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at 828.505.3000. Together we do BIG things.