When Marymount University was planning a “scholars day” a few years ago for high school seniors who had been offered admission, the Arlington County school received a phone call from a mother in Arizona. She wanted to know what was scheduled for parents.
University officials couldn’t interest her in tourist attractions, and they hesitated to allow grown-ups into the student-targeted event. So they organized activities just for parents. It was a hit.
Now Marymount sends parents postcards several times a year, invites them to parent-only events and publishes a full-color “Guide for Parents.” It is one of a growing number of schools to discover that it’s not enough to communicate with prospective students. The colleges are also wooing parents who are digitally tethered to their offspring and want more involvement than writing a tuition check.
“When my first one went to college, all of the parents were sitting there like, ‘Why won’t you listen to us? We’re the ones paying the bill,’ ” said Patrice Searl of Philadelphia, who toured Marymount last month with the youngest of her four children, Caitlin. Universities, she said, “have gotten a lot better about it.”
In this spring admission season, many colleges target parents via their Web sites, and some address financial aid letters: “To the parents of . . . .”