by Tyler Brandt, National Recruiting Coordinator
When I was recruiting at the collegiate level I always asked my recruits, “How involved do you think your parents want to be in this process?” The answer to that question was always intriguing but never differed much. The general answer was either “They don’t care where I go they just want me to be happy” or “This is really their decision because they’re paying for it”.
Here is what I came to realize, parents are always involved and usually a big part of the decision making process! Then I looked at a decade of research at Tudor Collegiate Strategies and what I thought – was confirmed.
In our research of college prospects a staggering 91.3% said the opinion of their parents was very important. In other words, more than 90% of the athletes you are talking to, regardless of what they tell you, will be getting direction or decision making information from mom or dad. The big question is, what type of recruiting plan do you have for the parents?
When you come across the CEO parent you will feel like your answer is given to you. They will call you, they will ask for information, they will request a follow-up from you, and you will have a very clear path of communication. You will need to connect with these types of parents because they will be very business like in their participation and need to feel comfortable and confident in recommending that their child go to your college. The flip side is that these types of parents are ALWAYS negotiating on behalf of their child with every other college they can find. As long as you can keep honest and open lines of communication, these types of parents don’t often blind side you.
The Silent Partner parent is a little more tricky. They will stay in the shadows watching the process, they will guide but not lead the direction their child is going, and when asked for input they will often defer in the early stages. As the choices start to get narrowed down the Silent Partner parent starts to get more involved, is out of the shadows and standing in the corner. At this point they have formed opinions on coaches, schools and finances. They have an idea of what’s best for their child and want them to feel like they are making the decision themselves, while in reality it is the parent’s choice.
In a recent conversation with a football coach at a DII University we explained that when all things are equal the parents will generally make the choice based on finances. SO – the goal is to make sure that when the prospect and the parents are reviewing and comparing colleges they don’t feel like everything is equal, they have to feel like you are different and a better fit.
You need to build relationships with the parents that are just as strong and emotionally connected as you do with your recruits. It is critical that you deliberately develop recruiting plans for parents. You need to schedule calls, send emails and probe the parents regarding their wants and needs for their child, because the parents need to be sold on you, your program and the institution just like the athlete!