Adult Students: Thoughts on the Chronicle's Report
Mar 23, 2018
Are you seriously trying to recruit adults? And before you answer that question, write down on a piece of paper the services you offer adults that are based on their unique needs.
Childcare? Or unique financial aid programs that help them cover the cost of childcare?
An application process that's designed for adults rather than a high school student and their parents?
Heck, web forms on your site that don't ask about the high school they attended or their parent's email addresses?
A degree road-map that helps them plan what courses they will take, and when they will take them so they can plan around their personal and professional demands?
Marketing material - your website, brochures, email designs - that shows adults rather than traditional-aged students socializing on the grassy commons area?
Does your messaging include relevant information about services that will help them overcome their concerns about writing at a college level or passing that dreaded Algebra class they struggled with 5-years ago - or does it focus on the "...more than 100 groups and activities including intramural sports..."
You get the point - you can't attract them, enroll them, if you aren't offering unique solutions to their wants and needs or clearly articulating those benefits in your messaging.
Oh, and chances are that you are going to need to use something other than Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr to reach them so you can get their interest, engage them in conversation and help them understand you are their best option.
You Need a Plan for Recruiting Adult Students
Many colleges lack a written plan and dedicated resources focused on the adult population.
Of the more than 3,000 presidents, provosts and senior leaders asked to answer a series of questions concerning their institution’s focus on the adult/post-traditional student audience, approximately 8 out of 10 respondents admitted their institution lacked two critical elements needed to succeed - a written plan and a dedicated budget.
And approximately 5 out of 10 admitted they did NOT understand the adult’s decision-making process and that they did NOT extend appropriate and valuable offers to adults at each stage of their decision-making process.
Lastly, more than 6 out of 10 admitted they do not understand where adults go to gather information regarding their education needs.
To read more, check out Why Colleges are Failing to Achieve their Adult Enrollment Goals.
Their motivations for enrolling are equally as diverse. Some want to do so for their own enrichment, to set an example for their children, or to fulfill a promise they made to themselves earlier in life. But for the majority of adult students, the opportunity to jumpstart their job prospects or advance in their careers is almost always a factor. Traditional-age students increasingly cite similar, career-focused goals for going to college, according to annual surveys of college freshmen. The difference is that the stakes are higher for adults because of the financial tradeoffs and personal sacrifices involved. (Source: The Adult Student, The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Here's What You Need to do
You have limited resources. And this is not a "Ready. Fire. Aim." opportunity.
Learn who these people are - there are segments within the total population so don't go out there with a "...anyone over 25-years of age with some college experience" mindset.
Identify the segments you feel offer you the greatest opportunity today and who have the wants and needs you can address with your current resources.
Develop a written plan with a budget and tie the budget to measurable goals and objectives. Then test, measure, analyze, and modify your strategies and tactics based on results and additional insight.
Set up a process where you are asking questions, gathering the answers and then analyzing those answers so you can verify any assumptions you might have made. (Ideally, when you are learning who these people are, you will be gathering the information that will drive most, if not all decisions, so that assumptions are at a minimum.)
For more recommendations, check out 2018 Lead Generation and Recruitment Predictions and Tips.
And remember - we're here to help. Our team has more than 40-years of experience in this area and we offer you a variety of affordable solutions that will help you succeed with the adult market.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.