From Playing Telephone to Partnering with Parents


Many universities recently sent messages to students, faculty, and staff explaining that students would stay at their permanent address and learn online after spring break. But how did parents and families get that message? Many learned from social media, mainstream media, and their students. But as in the game of “telephone,” in which messages are whispered from ear-to-ear, what parents heard may have been very different from what the university intended.

Students probably called home via text, audio, or video. TorchStar research finds about two-thirds of college students regularly use these tools to talk to family. Frequent topics of conversation include intensity of coursework and contacting professors. But now that students are at home and calling campus for instruction, how has the conversation changed?

Parents welcome students home during the COVID-19 crisis but for the long term they want to partner with universities to help students become well-educated independent adults. How can universities help these families while their students are at home and learning online?

A good first step would be to send a message directly to parents to give them guidance. Your leadership team needs to craft that message. If you don’t have parent/family professionals at the table where strategic decisions are being made, now might be a time for change.

TorchStar has both products (the Parent Insight and Engagement tool) and services (strategic planning and coaching expertise) that support universities in partnering with parents. To learn more, contact us at: sally@torchstared.com.


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