Findings and strategies from our Parent Enrollment Marketing Survey: Part 2

This post is a continuation of our last installment, “Findings and strategies from our Parent Enrollment Marketing Survey: Part 1” where we explored parental outreach strategy developed from conversations with parents currently in the college search process. That installment covered parent nurture at the inquiry level and the benefit of including parent information in your enrollment management software or higher ed CRM. In this installment, we will examine parent marketing at the applied and accepted stages.

Part 2: Parental Involvement at the Applied and Accepted Stages

During the application process:

  • Parent concern: “With one of the schools my daughter applied to, she just happened to log into her web portal site and saw that they said her paperwork was not complete—but they didn’t indicate what it was that she was missing! So, we went through what she sent, and failed to find what she missed. She had to call the school to find out what was missing, and it turns out they wanted her to have an interview… but nowhere on their site or during the apply stage did it say this was required. What upset us was that they never reached out to her to tell her she had not completed her application, and if she hadn’t happened to check her site, she would have lost the chance for an interview, as their application deadline was the next week.”
    Students aren’t always on top of the game, and sometimes it may be difficult for parents to be as well. They want to trust that your school will contact them if they’re missing any important information prior to the application deadline or let them know about the various supplemental items suggested or required for consideration.

Try this: Provide students with the checklist you’re using internally, in an easy-to-understand format
Many schools do a mediocre job at providing a checklist for students at the apply stage. Ensure your checklist is as thorough as possible, and relevant for every student type. Reach out to each student and parent frequently through phone calls to see if they have any questions or concerns, and if you see a student is still missing anything prior to the deadline, reach out to them again. Remember, granularity and clarity are best – if you can clearly outline what materials are different for in-state freshmen vs. out of state transfers internally, then you should be able to delineate those expectations in student-facing materials as well.

Try this: Follow up with high-interest students who are failing to advance – they might not realize their status
Spectrum tracks student marketing interactions in EMP – our higher ed CRM – and suggest you do the same if your office has the capability. By tracking students who are invested in the process or have a high interest rating, you can follow-up with students who seem like they should be advancing, but are not sure about all of the required criteria. By comparing high ratings against stage, it’s easy to locate outliers who are decidedly interested in your school, but don’t understand what they need to continue towards application and enrollment.

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Accepted Students day:

  • Parent concern: After being targeted with your marketing materials, applying and being accepted, parents want to see something exciting. “As a parent who is going to spend a lot of money at your school at least show me you have pride in your school.”

Try this: Specialize your Accepted Student events to enhance student-to-student interaction and don’t rehash your open house
Ensure your campus is looking pristine and as perfect as can be! Parents want to see the value in the investment they’re about to make. “Make me feel like my child is going to spend the most amazing four years here. I don’t want to hear the same talk I heard at the open house. At accepted students day you not only need to wow us, but you need to provide some type of atmosphere for all the accepted students to engage with each other.” Parents may be attending up to 10 or more accepted students’ days, and for the most part they’re all relatively the same. Not only is this a time to ‘wow’ the parents, but they also want to feel that their child will be comfortable.

Tip: Isolate students and parents so they can each have their own experience
Divide and conquer to get the undivided attention of your parental attendees. Break off the students so they can get tours, hear about campus life, etc., but while this is going on you can have your school’s professor’s host a “mock class” catering parents’ concerns and answering any questions that may arise. To ‘wow’ parents, one school hosts their accepted students day at the home of parents who already had a child attending the school. This allowed the parents of the students to interact in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Students can mingle, make friends, get phone numbers and by the end of the evening feel confident about attending the school.

Join us next time for the conclusion of our parent survey breakdown, with special coverage on financial aid and how to retain accepted students. Don’t forget to share your experiences with parent outreach in the comments!