Think back to when you were 8 years old. For me that was 1976, the year after we moved from Buffalo, NY to Malvern, PA (about 35 miles outside of Philadelphia). I had started to ride my bike and had a habit of riding a little further each time away from the house. Doing a cursory Google Maps Pedometer look up, I figured I went at most about 2 miles on bike and 1 mile on foot without an adult. Those were different times than today or when our grandparents were the same age. Just ask George Thomas.
When George was eight (in 1926) he could walk six miles without an adult. George’s son-in-law was eight in 1950 and was able to walk up to one mile without an adult. George’s grandson, Ed, who is now eight years old, can only walk about 300 yards – or to the end of the street.
It’s no different with my daughter – without an adult until this year (she’s now nine) it was to the end of the street. Now she can walk to school – about a 1/4 mile – but never by herself, but with a classmate or two – and always the same route every day. In fact, many of her third grade classmates have cellphones already (I know, can you believe it? You can imagine the pressure she puts on us to get her one).
My point here is that as recruiters, we need to be cognizant that we are recruiting the most sheltered, protected generation ever. What you say about your security and other campus protection not only has to be visible, it has to be real. Mom and dad are not only looking for a return on their investment, they are looking for a return of their child – safe and sound. And while financial aid may have jumped security as the number one issue on parent’s minds, security is probably a close second.
And this doesn’t stop at undergraduate school. I’m writing this from Chicago at this year’s annual GMAC conference where graduate admissions professionals are still trying to figure out how to deal with mom and dad showing up for admission interviews with their sons and daughters. Remember, mom and dad are always in the picture with this generation and they need to be sold on the fact that you will be good for their child, no matter what age they are.
Read more about our authors. Brian is the CEO and Co-Founder of TargetX. Over twenty years ago, he started his career in admissions at a small, liberal arts college. He was a constant thorn in the admission director’s side – always wanting to try new ideas and technology. He took his energy (and vast collection of suspenders – it was the early 90′s) to lead the graduate and adult enrollment and marketing at a national university. In this leadership position, he helped differentiate his employer in one of the most crowded higher education marketplaces in the country and pioneered the use of the Internet in recruitment marketing. His passion sparked the genesis of TargetX, the company he has served for over 14 years as its co-founder and CEO. Along the way he’s earned his master’s degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania and built TargetX into a multi-million dollar technology and consulting firm serving over 450 colleges and universities. Brian is now a voice of change in an industry at its tipping point, helping colleges who have the gumption to embrace more effective recruiting techniques as traditional methods wither away. He is also the author of “Overthrowing Dead Culture: A Vision to Change the World of College Recruiting” available on Amazon.com and BN.com.