As most educators know, parent engagement is a key component to a student’s overall success in life, and studies show that parents remain the number one influencer in achieving that success. More than likely, any educator and school counselor struggles with how to positively involve parents in their own students’ lives. But how do we educate parents and guardians in their role of helping students plan for life after high school?
For those who know the process, it can be overwhelming; for first-generation or low-income families, it can seem impossible. Through focus groups, surveys and partnerships with school counselors and educational organizations, Iowa Student Loan performed research and reviewed academic studies about methods to increase parental engagement. The end result is the development of a parental engagement service that assists educators by providing parent-focused tools and resources, empowering and incentivizing parents to engage in their students’ future plans, whether that includes college or a career.
Called SP3 — Student Planning Pointers for Parents, the service provides twice-monthly emails to registered parents. The emails contain useful tips and information based upon their students’ current grade level and the month in which the email is sent. Parents of eighth through 12th grade students are able to access information and resources related to the timely topic. After answering a couple of survey questions, they are entered into a quarterly drawing to win a 529 college savings deposit for their student — $250 to 40 participants each quarter. The best part about the service is that it’s entirely FREE!
The objectives are to increase parental involvement in students’ career and college planning; provide parents with tools to help with their students plan; and coordinate the service with activities and curriculum occurring at schools. Parents register at www.sp3.org to receive emails and gain access to a personal dashboard with current and archived content.
Iowa Student Loan has consistently provided financial education and college planning tools to Iowans during its 40-year history to support its mission of helping students obtain the resources needed to succeed in postsecondary education. Tools like Student Loan Game Plan, College Funding Forecaster, Return on College Investment (ROCI), Grad Degree Gauge and the Parent Handbook are proof of our successful mission, as is ICAN, with whom Iowa Student Loan partners. Adding SP3 to our impressive endeavors further solidifies our standing as a premier nonprofit entity in Iowa.