March 22, 2007, Arlington, VA – Future college parents expect to be more involved than current college parents in the key college concerns of their children, according to a new survey by College Parents of America.

The Second Annual National Survey of Future College Parent Expectations was conducted by College Parents of America in conjunction with partner organization, Colleges of Distinction. The survey was recently completed online by 860 parents of college-bound children, two-thirds of whom were parents of high school seniors, and another 15 percent of whom were parents of 2008 high school graduates.

Developed to help those involved in higher education to better understand the concerns of future college parents, the survey explored the expected frequency, types and topics of parent-college student communication.

And, since the online questionnaire was put out into the field on the heels of a companion College Parents of America study on current college parent experiences, the survey’s most immediate value may be its ability to help the higher ed community to compare and contrast the concerns of today’s college parents with those of parents whose children will arrive on campus in the coming years.

“Future college parents believe that they will have much greater levels of concern on nearly every topic, from health and safety to finances, academics and even personal relationships,” said James A. Boyle, president, College Parents of America. “These soon-to-be college parents also believe, much more so than their current college parent brethren, that they will be asked for advice or assistance early and often.”

Added Boyle: “The term ‘helicopter parenting’ has begun to take hold in recent years and, if our surveys are any indication, the parent ‘hovering’ is only going to become more frequent. Whether students welcome – and benefit from – such parental behavior is another matter.”

According to the new future college parent survey, “health and safety” tops the list of expected parent concerns , with 74 percent of future college parents believing that this topic will be of “extreme” or “great” concern, as opposed to the 43 percent of current college parents who categorize “health and safety” concerns in that manner.

As each of the potential areas of concern are explored in the survey, the projected levels of “extreme” or “great” concern among future college parents easily outpace the real-time levels of concern among those who already are parents of students in college. For instance, on the topic of “finances,” 66 percent of future college parents predict “extreme” or “great” concern versus 45 percent of current college parents who are grading their actual concerns on that topic.

The other leading areas of “extreme” or “great” concern follow, in order, with the first percentage signifying the combination of those “extreme” or “great” adjectives when it comes to future college parents, and the second cited percentage (in parentheses), noting the real-time “extreme” or “great” concerns of current college parents on those very same topics. 

Academics 61 percent with “extreme” or “great” concern (vs. 37 percent)
Career Planning 55 percent (vs. 3 1 percent)
Personal Relationships 52 percent (vs. 28 percent)
Community Involvement 36 percent (vs. 14 percent)

According to the dual surveys, not only do parents of future college students expect to have elevated levels of concern across a broad variety of topics, when compared to their current college parent peers, these college parents-to-be also expect to be asked for advice and assistance from their children at a much higher level than current college parents are now experiencing.

For instance, 63 percent of prospective college parents expect to be asked for “very frequent” or “frequent” advice on finances, while only 33 percent of current college parent survey respondents actually are asked for financial advice. This doubling (and sometimes tripling ) of projected advice or assistance plays out in other topics as well.

In the area of career planning, 36 percent of future college parents expect to be asked for “very frequent” or “frequent” advice, versus the actual experience of 16 percent of current college parents. In health and safety, the figures are 30 percent versus 14 percent, in academics they are 27 percent versus 14 percent and in community involvement 15 percent versus 5 percent, with the projected levels of advice by future college parents consistently outpacing the actual advice provided by those parents with children already in college.

The Second Annual National Survey on Future College Parent Expectations generated responses from 49 of 50 states and the District of Columbia. A summary analysis of the survey results can be viewed here.

The survey in its entirety is available to be seen through Survey Monkey here.