Although students are the ones who will ultimately attend a higher education program, the role of parents cannot be minimized. International parents seem to play an even greater role in school selection than American parents. Armed with this knowledge, the next logical question is: What do parents want to know?
We've known for a long time that the role of parents cannot be underemphasized. In our roles of recruiting international students, whether from the admissions or marketing perspective, it is critical that we invite and include parents in the conversation. Our extensive focus group work and research have shown us the key role played by parents. Successfully interact with the parents and you have a much greater chance of matriculating the students.
As we've mentioned in the past it is critical to communicate with parents in their native languages. While we expect students who seek study abroad experiences to have a reasonable grasp of written and spoken English, there is no reason to hold parents to the same standard.
As you create content for parents we encourage you to include these topics in your marketing materials. Parents want to know about these subjects:
What kinds of options do students have on campus? What programs/majors/unique learning opportunities exist for (international) students?
Bottom line-- what does it cost for an international student to attend your institution? This needs to be broken down and detailed to show tuition, room and board, fees, etc. Prospective families have a right to see this information in a clear, transparent way.
Parents are concerned with how their sons/daughters will transition to life on your campus. It is critical to alleviate concerns by providing concrete information about campus resources, orientation programs, ongoing programs, and international student support services.
Career Placement and Future Opportunities
Parents want to know what happens after a student's education concludes at your institution. They want clear information about the next step. This is an area we feel is critically deficient at many institutions. Career services needs to expand its engagement of international students. But we digress. (You can read more in our article Is Your Career Service Office Cutting Edge?) Marketing materials aimed at parents should detail paths taken by alumni. LinkedIn can be a tremendous resource as you market your alumni accomplishments.
How will students grow, mature, and develop through their experiences living and learning on your campus? Providing concrete examples to parents will allay concerns about sending their children halfway across the globe.
Do you have other ideas or suggestions for engaging parents? What topics have you found matter to parents?