The Growing Importance of Parent Outreach in College Recruitment

Too many higher ed institutions make communicating with the parents of their prospective students an afterthought, so they miss opportunities to reach these important influencers when and where it matters most. This was one of the messages of Laura Rudolph, director of enrollment communications at Transylvania University in Lexington, during Capture Higher Ed’s virtual conference, INNOVATE 2022, last month.

In her session, “Parent Outreach Made Easy,” the 14-year veteran of higher ed marketing and recruitment outlined how significant parents — especially today’s parents — are during their child’s college search process.

According to a recent study by CampusESP, three out of four parents say they are “very involved” in the college search process. But only slightly more than half of these involved parents say they received communications from colleges directed at them.

“Unfortunately, that means nearly half of parents were really engaged and yet were not receiving any communication,” Rudolph says.

Another study, this one by the tech company Mongoose, found parents to be the most important influencers for prospective students … more than their friends, fellow students or high school guidance counselors.

“In addition to that, they have the greatest impact at the beginning and early stages of the college search,” Rudolph says. “In fact, data has shown that as early as sophomore year, parents are influencing their child’s college search process.”

Finally, Rudolph cited a study that found: “Students who provide their parents’ email address when they inquire are 45 percent more likely to apply and persist through to deposit.”

Knowing this, the question becomes: How can college and university enrollment offices nudge the nudgers? How do you influence these influential parents?

Check out Rudolph’s INNOVATE session to find out:

  • Who the parents of your prospective students are.
  • How to get their information.
  • What information they want. What is important to them that may be different from what’s important to their prospective student.
  • How frequently and in what medium they want the information delivered.
  • And how to write to them … and do it efficiently.

 Go to the video.