“You can look at the IP addresses. We can actually see 10-15% of the applications were completed by the parent. This is going to increase. The parent is driving the college search process. You need to be recruiting the whole family because they’re part of this as well.” - Joe Madigan - Director of Recruitment Outreach at Florida Southern University
The term “helicopter parent” has become standard in higher education - Generation Z students swarmed by parents who hover over them, caring for their every need. But there’s a new level of caregiver in the form of stealth fighter parents, and Florida Southern University unearthed some interesting statistics. Parents are becoming even stronger advocates for their kids.
More and more parents are seizing control of the college admissions process by pretending to be their children, using their own email addresses and phone numbers to receive updates and texts from schools.
Data pulled from Florida Southern University shows that 28% of the phone numbers entered on applications received are a parent or guardian’s number, not a student’s. This statistic is not surprising, as many parents want to ensure their children are receiving important information, but do not trust that their kids will actually follow through on the necessary steps to ensure their education.
When viewing the IP addresses through their CRM, Slate, the team calculates that the number is actually more like 40-45%, accounting for stealth fighter parents acting as students. Additionally, 78% of all contact information from FSC visit registration inquiries is parent info.
And the subterfuge begins long before the first contact. Stealth fighter parents are even more aggressive, performing school searches, vetting websites, and making inquiries on behalf of their kids. While actual percentages will undoubtedly vary from school to school, it is important to consider who you’re communicating with when you start sending emails and texts to prospective students.
While a prospective student’s main concern in a college search could be the availability of their major and the appeal of campus life, a parent will narrow their search to schools that offer the highest return on their own personal investment. Swooping in is no match for flying under the radar.