SURVEY OF PROSPECTIVE COLLEGE PARENTS SHOWS STRONG PARENT-STUDENT CONNECTION

A new national survey of future college parents, answered by more than 500 of you, shows that the parent-student partnership in college search and selection has become a fundamental piece of this grueling, annual ritual. The survey also reveals a very high expectation by parents of continued close involvement in your child’s lives as your son or daughter moves on to college.

A new national survey of future college parents, answered by more than 500 of you, shows that the parent-student partnership in college search and selection has become a fundamental piece of this grueling, annual ritual. The survey also reveals a very high expectation by parents of continued close involvement in your child’s lives as your son or daughter moves on to college.

The National Survey of College Parent Preparation and Expectations was conducted in March 2006 by College Parents of America and completed online by 525, or nearly 2 percent of our organization’s 34,000 members and supporters who have children currently in high school, and who plan to send those children to college.

According to the survey, 88 percent of you said that you have or expect to go on campus visits, 85 percent have or expect to help your child decide to which schools to apply, 77 percent have or expect to be heavily involved in your child’s selection of a college, 69 percent have or expect to help with drafting your child’s college applications, and 49 percent have or expect to arrange for a SAT/ACT preparation course or tutoring for your child before the SAT/ACT test.

Sociologists have speculated for some time about the perceived partnership between today’s mostly baby-boomer parents and your millennial children when it comes to college search and selection. This study verifies that speculation and sends a clear message to college admissions offices across the country: recruiting a student really means recruiting a family.

Expected family contribution is a financial aid term of art that has existed for decades. Our survey shows that the family contribution is more than just about money. It is also about the investment of family time, energy and emotion in what has become, in many cases, an all-consuming sprint to use family skills, teamwork and resources to get to the admissions finish line. The `Amazing Race’ is more than just a TV series with a group of hand-picked contestants; it is a yearly marathon involving millions of parents and students and thousands of colleges and universities.

And, according to the second part of our National Survey of College Parent Preparation and Expectations, the teamwork of parents and students doesn’t end at the admissions doorstep. Today’s future college parents also expect to be quite involved in and supportive of your children’s lives at school, once the college experience begins.

Nearly three in four (73 percent) of parents surveyed expect to communicate at least two to three times per week with your child when he or she away at college. This figure is consistent, almost to the exact percent, with the 74 percent of current college parents who communicate with your sons or daughters that number of times per week, according to College Parents of America’s other recent survey, The National Survey of College Parent Experiences, released last month.

Similar consistencies are found in future and current college parent’s answers to the questions of whether you plan to or have attended a parent orientation if it is offered, as well as how often you expect to or have visited campus during the school year.

Where differences emerge between the two surveys is in the area of what topics that parents of future college students believe you will have on your mind when your child goes away to school. For instance, 57 percent of future college parents believe that “health and safety issues” will be of “most concern” when your son or daughter is at college, while only 12 percent of current college parents characterize “health and safety” issues in the same “most concerned” way.

When asked “On which topic do you anticipate your student will require the most advice or assistance from you during college or university?” future college parents cite “finances” in overwhelming numbers, with 61 percent of you saying that topic will require the “most advice.” Finances also topped the list in a similar question posed to current college parents in the earlier survey, but only 35 percent of current college parents cited that topic as “most asked about” by your son or daughter.

The College Parents of America National Survey on College Parent Preparation and Expectations generated responses from 46 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.