Working Paper: Parental Influences on Postsecondary Decision-Making

Full Title: Parental Influences on Postsecondary Decision-Making: Evidence from a Text Messaging Experiment

Full Abstract: A growing body of research points to the importance of increasing parental engagement in their children’s education. Yet, little research has investigated whether prompting parents to be more involved in the college process leads to improved student outcomes. We investigate, through a large-scale experiment, whether providing both students and their parents with personalized information about tasks students need to complete in order to enroll in college leads to improved college enrollment outcomes relative to providing information to students only. We utilize text messaging as a vehicle for providing information and one-on-one college advising to students and parents.  Across treatment arms, the text outreach increased on-time college enrollment by a statistically significant 3.1 percentage points. We do not find compelling evidence that texting both parents and students increased the efficacy of the outreach relative to just texting students. We discuss this result in the context of the broader parental engagement literature.

EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 50. May 2016.