You’ve probably noticed—your school's parents and their communication needs are changing. There are still many baby boomers among parents of today’s K–12 students. We’re even seeing boomer grandparents who are involved in their grandchildren’s education. Boomers are typically categorized as ages 55–73.
But your school doesn’t communicate only with this older generation. You’ve probably also encountered Gen Xers, ranging from 40–54 years old, and now millennials, ages 25–37, among the parental ranks. Each group of parents tends to value different things when it comes to their children’s education, how they prefer to communicate, and what they want from your school.
It's best to start by understanding the background of each parental group.
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are more educated than previous generations—39% have a bachelor’s degree or higher. And more women in this age range are in the workforce—72%—than boomers (where only 66% were employed at the same age) and Gen Xers (at 71%).
According to Pew, “millennials with a bachelor’s degree or more and a full-time job had median annual earnings valued at $56,000 in 2018.” However, there is a large disparity between college-educated millennials and those without a degree. For millennials with some college or less, the median annual earnings are $36,000.
This disparity is echoed at the household level. “For households headed by millennials ages 25 to 37 in 2018, the median adjusted household income was about $105,300 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, roughly $56,000 greater than that of households headed by high school graduates.” This is important for private school leaders to note when it comes to setting tuition.
Millennials are also starting their families later, which could have a large impact on the market of students available for private school education. “Just under half (46%) of millennials ages 25 to 37 are married,” according to Pew. This is in contrast to the 83% of people between the ages of 25 and 37 who were married in 1968. Today, the average American woman first marries at 28 and the average American man first marries at 30.
When it comes to children, “In 2016, 48% of millennial women (ages 20 to 35 at the time) were moms. When Generation X women were the same age in 2000, 57% were already mothers, similar to the share of Boomer women (58%) in 1984.” These smaller millennial families, headed by older first-time parents, will require a shift in communication and marketing initiatives so your school can continue to meet its enrollment goals.
How to Communicate With Each Generation
You need your messages to resonate with baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials on everything from overall value to tactical, day-to-day information. How do you reach them where they are and ensure they get the information they need? Every generation wants to receive information differently.
- Preferred method of receiving information: In person or via telephone.
- Preferred method to consume news: Print periodicals, such as newspapers, books, and magazines, and television news.
- Preferred method of receiving information: Email.
- Preferred method to consume news: Online news sources.
- Preferred method of receiving information: Text messages.
- Preferred method to consume news: Social media, such as Twitter and Instagram.
So, depending on your school’s unique parent mix, you’ll want to employ the right tactics to communicate effectively. Continue to refine your strategies to meet parents where they are.