Campus Tour de Force: Parents of College-Bound Students Insist on Seeing Campus Themselves; StudentProspector Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Parents Very Involved in College-Selection Process

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Parents of soon-to-be college students say they are extremely involved in their child's college search, and families expect to visit an average of 3.5 schools during their search, according to a new survey.

High school students shopping for colleges will visit an average of 3.5 schools as part of their search, and according to a just-released survey of their parents, Mom and Dad will likely be strolling the campuses right along with them.

Two in three parents (66 percent) of soon-to-be college students say they are "extremely" (28 percent) or "very" (38 percent) involved in their child's college search, with almost half (45 percent) insisting that they visit the campuses themselves before they would allow their child to attend.

The survey was commissioned by StudentProspector (, a leading Internet resource for college planning that matches prospective students with the right schools.

The top priority of the campus visit? Half of the parents surveyed think it's the admissions office interview, presumably something they will let their children handle alone. Touring the grounds was deemed the second most important part of the visit at 21 percent.

"The so-called 'helicopter' parents are hovering throughout the college-selection process," said Steve R. Isaac, adviser to StudentProspector and CEO of Halyard Education Partners, the parent company to StudentProspector. "As this survey confirms, most moms and dads are intimately involved in every aspect of the search, and given the costs associated with higher education, who can blame them? More than ever, the search for the right college is a collaborative process between parents and their kids."

According to some college admissions officers, high school students taking college tours would be better served by taking a more active, participatory role, rather than letting their parents dominate the process.

"The parents ask most of the questions on our tours," says Celia O'Brien, who works undergraduate admissions at the University of Arizona. "Students, make sure your voices are heard as well. This will be your experience -- and ultimately should be your decision. Don't be so self-conscious as to miss out on an opportunity to inquire about information that will be very useful to have in your college-decision process."

According to the survey, the Internet has become the primary source of information throughout the search process. Almost one-third (32 percent) of parents say they turn to a college's official Web site for information, followed next by calling/emailing the college directly (27 percent). Another 21 percent say they count on Web sites with a collection of college-related information.

Among other findings:

  • Only 5 percent of parents said they were "not very involved" (3 percent) or "not involved at all" (2 percent) in their kids' college search
  • Only 2 percent of parents said "seeing the dorms" was a top priority on the campus visit
  • Of parents who said they needed to visit a campus themselves before allowing their child to enroll, 52 percent of that group noted a sense of curiosity and the need to see what the school was like. Meanwhile, 15 percent said they were "concerned with safety."

The nationwide, online survey of 578 parents of high school-aged students likely to attend college was conducted by Ipsos, an independent market research company based in Minneapolis, from February 12 -16, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

About StudentProspector:

StudentProspector ( is a leading Internet resource for higher education planning that matches prospective students with the right schools. Students interested in undergraduate, study abroad, continuing education or graduate programs indicate the type of program they're interested in by using a simple profile. Administrators then use these profiles to find students who meet their specific criteria, forming a perfect marriage between student and school. StudentProspector, which has functioned as a recruiting database since fall 2001, is a service of Educational Directories Unlimited (EDU), a leading Internet company serving higher education based in suburban Philadelphia and founded in 1989. Halyard Education Partners became the parent company to EDU and StudentProspector in May 2006.

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Stacey Brucia

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