Parents matter more than in the past in the college admissions process, according to an EAB survey, released today, of 4,848 high school students graduating in 2021.
Of these students, 48% ranked “parental influence” as one of their top five sources of information about the admissions process. This figure compares to 34% in 2019 and 37% in 2020.
But an EAB report said not all parents are invoked equally.
“Low-income students are less likely to rely on parental support than high-income students, as are black or Hispanic students compared to Asian or white students,” the report said.
Only 30% of first-generation students listed parents as one of the top five sources of information, compared to 53% of non-first-generation students.
By race, responses were also different: 52% of white students ranked their parents among the top five sources of information, and 50% of Asian students did so, while only 44% of black students and 38% Hispanic students agreed.
“Parents/families have always had a significant influence on college choice and this has been reinforced – in my view – by all the time at home students have been spending with family members during COVID,” said Madeleine Rhyneer, vice president of advisory services and dean. management of EAB registrations. She said it has long been her practice “to involve parents and make them allies in the college admissions process.”
She added: “When students say, ‘We’re going to college,’ they’re not kidding, because a lot of it is a family decision.”
As a result, “providing timely and helpful information to prospects and family members is smart,” she said. “My lived experience is that every parent wants the best for their sons and daughters, and it’s our job to help them understand what they are choosing and what the expected outcomes are if they enroll in a particular university. .”
So how come some parents are more involved than others?
“Making information available in multiple ways across multiple platforms, including perhaps multiple languages, is a great way to involve parents in the process,” Rhyneer said. “I’m a fan of small bites of just-in-time information that parents and students bombarded with marketing of all kinds can easily digest. And you can never empathize too much with the challenges students and families face on their journey to college.
Sources of information
As for where parents fit overall, consider these numbers from the survey.
The report published by the EAB states: “Our analysis indicates that Gen Z prefers to conduct research on their own schedule, which means that it is essential for institutions to have a strong web presence. It should also be noted that self-service digital sources are a great way to influence students’ second source of referral: their parents and family. »
Optional admission test
Another factor the EAB asked students about was optional test admissions policies. While many colleges had them before the pandemic, the optional test has become the norm during the pandemic.
The question posed to high school students was whether they had applied to colleges where testing was optional. Seventy percent of students responded, “Yes, but that’s not why I applied.” Fifteen percent said, “Yes and that’s why I applied.
While only 15% of students said their application decisions were influenced by applying to an elective college, EAB considered it “an important part of students.”
And that was reinforced by the response when race and ethnicity were added.
Only 12% of white students said yes, but 15% of Asian students, 21% of Hispanic students, and 24% of black students did.
“Our research indicates that testing policy is an important factor for a significant share of prospects,” the EAB report said.