Prospective Family Engagement: A Path to Equity in Access to Information 

Raquel BermejoAssociate Vice President, Market Research and PlanningSeptember 16, 2022
Equity to access in college planning information: teenage son looking at phone with his father
Do all prospective families have the same access to college planning information?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word equity means, “a situation in which everyone is treated fairly according to their needs and no group of people is given special treatment.”

Equity in education is an educational system that caters to students of all kinds in which all students have the opportunity to receive the support and resources they need to succeed (An Overview of Equity in Education).

The concept of equity in access to college planning information takes this concept one step further. Do all prospective families have the same access to college planning information? To answer this question, RNL and our partners at CampusESP and Ardeo Education Solutions set out to understand the experiences, preferences, and perceptions of the families of prospective college students. We conducted a survey of nearly 6,000 prospective families in the spring of 2022, publishing the findings in our Prospective Family Engagement Report.

Why equity in access to information matters in engaging families

The information prospective college families and other adults who support prospective college students can access impacts their ability to successfully navigate their way through the college planning experience—and may ultimately affect the success of students. Having access to the right information and resources may aid their ability to apply to college, complete a financial aid application, find scholarships, and so on. Not being able to find the information they need or comprehend it can hinder their ability to apply to a school.

Through our research, we want to help institutions understand the topics families want to know about. We also wanted to see if families are receiving, seeing, and understanding the information they want to and need to know.

Engaging and informing families from underrepresented populations

Institutions have highlighted their efforts to recruit students from underrepresented students for years—and many have had success. However, another recent survey from RNL shows that there is a gap between what institutions hope to accomplish in this area and how they are trying to increase representation. According to our 2022 Marketing-Recruitment Practices Survey of campus enrollment managers:

  • Only one-quarter of private and half of the public institutions have plans to recruit Hispanic students.
  • Half of the private and 43 percent of the public institutions have recruitment materials in Spanish.
  • About one-third of private institutions and close to half of public institutions have specific strategies to recruit Black students.
  • The recruitment of first-generation status seems to be getting more attention than the previous two groups, with 41 percent of private and nearly half of the public stating they have specific recruitment strategies for first-generation students.

That 2022 marketing and recruitment research will be published later this month.

Explore more at our NACAC session

At the 2022 NACAC National Conference, I will be presenting on this topic with two campus leaders: Omar Correa (Vice President, Strategic Enrollment Management at the University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN) and Melanie Casciato (Director for Student Recruitment at Columbia Basin College, WA). I invite you to our session on Thursday, September 22 at 2:15 PM Central. We will discuss how, together we can create a path to equity in access to college planning information for all prospective families.

If you cannot make it to NACAC, I also encourage you to reach out and set up a time to talk with my enrollment colleagues. They can talk to you about how you can engage parents and students across all populations.

Engage parents during your student search campaigns

Parents can be your biggest enrollment champions. They are the number-one influencers for prospective students. That’s why RNL Student Search and Engagement makes parent engagement a major part of search campaigns.

Ask for a for a free walkthrough and see how you can engage students and parents at every stage of the enrollment journey.

Request walkthrough

RNL Student Search and Engagement: New Enhancements for 2022

About the Author

Raquel Bermejo

Dr. Raquel Bermejo analyzes existing search, inquiry, and conversion data in addition to conducting original research with college-seeking students and parents to understand trends and student behaviors. Her research informs and enhances the services the...

Read more about Raquel's experience and expertise

Reach Raquel by e-mail at Raquel.Bermejo@RuffaloNL.com.

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