Just as Gen-Z students are different than millennials and Gen-X, so are their parents. Here are a few of the trends we’re seeing — along with advice for how to address these personality traits through your communications strategies.
“Helicopter” parents are now the norm
Parents of Gen-Z students are often called “helicopter” parents, because it seems like they’re always there, just waiting to fly in and do whatever their child needs. Why? In some cases, it’s because these parents regret decisions they’ve made in their own lives, or because they’re focused on avoiding failure, according to research published in Psychology Today. Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that these parents want to be involved — oftentimes overly involved — in their child’s life.
Opportunity >>> Invite parents to be an active part of the admissions process. Create a separate section of your website for parents, and update your RFI form to ask for their email address and phone number, so you can email and text them about deadlines, financial aid and other topics of interest.
Parents expect their investments in their children to pay off
By the time a child is a junior in high school, parents have spent 16 years taking care of them. Feeding them. Reading to them. Teaching them to walk. Teaching them to drive. In the race to get their child into the “perfect” college, parents invest thousands of hours — and often hundreds of thousands of dollars — in everything from math tutors to tennis lessons. Now, these parents want to do everything they can to get the maximum return on the time and money they’ve invested.
Opportunity >>> Understand why parents care so much about the college decision process (even though college choice doesn’t always make a significant difference in a child’s future). A parent’s fears may be unfounded, but they’re still very, very real to them. Understanding their perspective — and being able to empathize with them — can help you open doors to meaningful conversations.
Stronger parent-child relationships are leading to more difficult separations
Gen-Z students are often their parents’ best friends. Even if they’re not BFFs, parents are spending more time with their children. This closeness makes it even harder for parents to accept that their child will be leaving home — perhaps forever. While you may deal with this every day as part of your job, these parents are living it firsthand, without the benefit of your perspective or experience.
Opportunity >>> Help alleviate a parent’s anxiety by giving them some control over the process. How? By letting them know what to expect throughout the admissions process. Give them a roadmap, and make it easy for them to contact you with any questions or concerns. Parents are typically more involved (and more influential) in sophomore and junior years, so reach out early to have the most impact.
Want to learn more?
Our full report on parents covers everything from which topics are important to parents, to the most effective communications strategies for parents of Gen-Z students.