There are terms for overly protective and aggressive parents - helicopter parents, stealth parents, and bulldozer parents. They tend to hover around their children, complete tasks on their child’s behalf, and move mountains to ensure their child’s needs are met.
As a higher ed professional, understanding what motivates parents can help you better communicate with them and their college aged children. We’re sharing the personality traits and some advice on how to reach the generation that survived the Cold War and multiple Ratt albums.
Think of Their Investment
For at least 17 years, parents have fed their child, taught them to read and drive, had the talk, and meticulously provided. Not to mention the countless hours and money they’ve invested in tutoring, apps, electronics, etc. for their kids.
When it comes to choosing a college for their kids, they want their investment to “pay off” with a fat envelope from the perfect institution and they’ll do whatever they can to assure that happens.
That includes completing college applications not only with their kids, but for them. In fact, 62% of parents completed applications for their child in according to an Inside Higher Ed survey.
Talk to Them Directly
Parents carry a ton of influence. Instead of relying on the student alone to share information with parents (or them to lurk on the student’s behalf), communicate with them directly.
Invite them to be a part of the admissions process by creating a separate section of your website, exclusively for parents and guardians. Update your RFI form and webchat playbooks to ask for their email address and phone number. This way, you can email and text them about deadlines, financial aid, and other topics of interest.
Give helicopter parents a helicopter pad. Design specific communication for parents. Take advantage of the rare opportunity where someone can’t wait to hear from you.
They’re Very Close to Their Kids
Gen Z students tend to be their parents’ best friends. It’s much harder for parents to cut the cord when they’ve spent so much time with their kids. When they come to your campus, be aware of that trepidation. You might know everything is going to be alright, but it makes sense to empathize with someone who is watching their baby bird leave the nest.
Answer Questions and Concerns
Along with being empathetic towards parents, you also should be there for them as a direct line of communication. If parents are comfortable with you, they’ll be comfortable steering their child in your direction. Because parents are very involved (and influential) during sophomore and junior years of high school, reach out early to have the greatest impact.
They Can Be Adult Learners
Sometimes the parents of Gen Z students are students themselves. Many of the personality traits listed here can help you reach parents and attract them to your institution for their own educational journey.
This generation craves all the info before they make a decision. Demonstrate a return on their potential higher education investment, make yourself available to answer questions, and make them aware of any resources that can help them return to the classroom.
Are you ready to connect with parents of Gen Z students? See how you can rethink your parent engagement strategy to get started.