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This post is written by Keanan Barbour-March, VP of Product at CampusESP.

Higher education is always in flux. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, college enrollment declined about two percent from 2014 to 2015. Now, more than ever, academic administrators must make the most of what’s available to encourage student engagement and achievement throughout the four year post-secondary education process.

One of the assets academic professionals can leverage is already close at hand. Initial research conducted at two higher educational institutions over the past year indicates that communication frequency between parents and students leads to greater academic success. Additionally, 94% of admissions officers say engaging parents helps with recruiting efforts. How can colleges and universities make the most of parent engagement?

5 Parent Engagement Tips

iphone_hand1. Get Smart(phones). These days, nearly 90 percent of parents of college-age students carry smartphones. Maximize the use of smartphone apps that connect parents, students, and schools.

2. Know the channels. Over three-quarters of parents surveyed interact with their on-campus children more than once a week, and the females take the lead. Young women text and call more frequently, as do moms.

3. Text friendly. The preferred method of communication between parents and children is texting. Grade level and ethnicity have no material impact on frequency of communication. As young adults proceed through the four year college program, telephone calls become more commonplace.

stockiphone-837x4004. Be the first. Students who are first in their families to attend college are in more frequent communication with parents. Additionally, less educated parents interact more regularly with their college students. It’s worth gearing parent communications to this subgroup.

5. Speak of success. Evidence points that parent communication has an influence on student success. Students who report that they have higher grades are the same pupils who speak to their parents more frequently. Students who speak or text with parents multiple times per day have the highest grades.

At CampusESP, we like to say that we help colleges “nudge the nudgers”.  How many unread emails do you have? How many do you think students have? Main means of communication tend to stop after email, even on such important things as paying bills & completing FAFSA application. Unlike your refrigerator, where opening and closing the door won’t magically produce any results, checking in with your college student may actually help.

That’s essentially what our research finds when it comes to the impact of parent and family involvement on post-secondary academic success. There’s a huge opportunity here (especially with first-gen / first in family / minority students) — parents don’t know what they don’t know. Be better informed to have better conversations. And, for colleges, help those parents have the information they need to better support their students.

 

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