Parents are more involved in the college process than ever before. Whether they’re bringing their student on campus tours, helping them figure out their finances, or influencing their final decision on where to spend the next four years – parents are active and engaged during every step of a school search. 

Related: “Parents Just Don’t Understand”? Not According to College Admissions

Parents sometimes become so immersed in the school search process that they complete actions that students are typically responsible for. In fact, 90% of parents contact colleges on behalf of their kids, and 62% admit to completing their student’s applications. This means that parents should be just as much a part of your target audience as prospective students.

As a marketer, you can bring parents’ goals to fruition by staying transparent and authentic in your communications with them. But that’s not all. Here are four key tactics to keep in mind when marketing your college to parents:

Maintain a Top-Notch Website

The majority of a parent’s school discovery starts online, with 75-80% of parents supporting their student’s college decision process by visiting a website. This means focusing your efforts on the upkeep of your website is critical to keeping parents engaged and interested. To achieve a top-notch website, ensure it’s mobile responsive, with modern designs, clear calls-to-action, structured navigational pathways, targeted content, and high-quality imagery that encapsulates your school’s differentiators.  

Considering 69% of parents claim the college website is the most influential channel on their journey, keeping yours differentiated from the competition and relatable to parent’s needs will ensure your school is at the top of application lists.  

Screenshot of Harvard Medical School site


Tailor Your Content to Their Needs

Parents and students have different priorities when viewing website content. While parents’ first priority is finding information on the cost of attending the school, students primarily look for content related to the academic programs offered at the school.

Tailoring your content to parents will show you care about them, understand their role in their student’s life, and value their support during their student’s academic life. Therefore, include a parent resource on your website that houses content specific to them. For example, Saint Anselm’s website has a Parents & Families page that dives into topics related to commencement, new student orientation, family weekend details, financial aid, ways they can get involved, and other key parental insights. With designated resources readily available to prospective parents, you’ll make them feel comfortable and prepared at every step of their journey.

Screenshot of St. Anselm's website


Email Them Directly

40% of parents forward emails from schools they’re considering to their children and 83% of students save the emails from schools they’re considering. This works twofold – if a parent forwards along an email to their student, the student is more likely to save the email and consider applying. Therefore, email is an effective channel to inform parents and encourage them to share information with their child – driving interest and engagement from both audiences.

Personalize your institution’s emails with the parent’s name, rather than their kid’s, and provide information that caters to parental concerns and needs. For example, include insights about upcoming campus tours, parent informational sessions, and video testimonials of current parents and their experience with your school. By emailing prospective parents directly, they’ll be more in tune with current happenings and keep your school top of mind during the search.

Write Them a Letter of Acceptance, Too

While prospective parents aren’t the ones attending the school, they heavily influence the decision-making for finding the right school for their student. It’s important to acknowledge the work they put in throughout the school search once their student has been accepted. Therefore, consider writing a letter of acceptance from the president in tandem with the student’s letter. This not only shows parents that your school is excited to welcome the family, but also encourages the parent to stay active throughout every milestone.

Hands holding letter from college



Parents play a monumental role in their student’s school search. From the first draft of the college essay to the last college campus tour, parents are highly influential throughout the student’s journey.

To spark interest from parents, maintain a top-notch website, tailor your content to their needs, email them directly, and write them an acceptance letter. By including these tactics in your strategy, you’ll captivate parents and make your school the easy choice for their student.

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Tactics for Fixing Your Funnel: Higher Education Edition