Five Ways to Attract Adult Learners to Your School

By Frank HealyJuly 9, 2015

Higher education leaders, especially in the private sector, are aware of the increasing student demographic of adult learners. Many social and economic factors have lead to growth in this population, such as the economic downturn of past years leading many adults into going back to school to advance or change their profession.

According to The National Center for Education Statistics, the enrollments of adult learners aged 25 and over increased by 35 percent between the years 2000 and 2012. Since adult learners have different motivations, lives and goals than traditional students, colleges and universities must understand their institution’s strengths and deficiencies to ensure they are meeting the needs and goals of these students.

Managing your school’s recruiting efforts can be guided by implementing proven marketing practices. Let`s review five effective ways to successfully attract adult learners to your school:

1. Provide a user-friendly website experience
An important marketing strategy for any institution is to provide a website experience responsive to adult life and learning preferences. Your website should have a clear “Contact Us” page with detailed information on who to contact for questions about admission, tuition or programs.

Offering the right technology support is vital, as students should be able to navigate to your school’s website with ease to find information and access services effectively. Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly in order to accommodate the increasing number of adults using their phones to search for information. Your website serves as an important first impression, and should reflect your school’s quality.

2. Be a connecter
Non-traditional adult students often have many commitments in their personal lives. Connecting them to advisors to ensure they stay consistently dedicated throughout the college program will foster success events throughout the student lifecycle.

When it comes to social media outlets, focus on crafting powerful and engaging messages directed toward these students. Highlight your institution’s benefits often, such as flexibility and program offerings. Connect them with peers through established community partnerships and alumni associations to create a network of support with colleagues. Offering tailored scholarships for adult learners is also an effective way to attract students to your school.

3. Showcase your programs
Adult students are well aware of their many options when it comes to choosing the right school and program. Market convenient programming, such as distance education, night classes and weekend classes to attract this demographic.

A wide variety of options will show adult learners that your school is happy to accommodate their busy lifestyle. In today’s ever-changing education marketplace, offering accelerated programs that can be completed quickly will also help to attract and retain students.

4. Offer support and structure
Many adult learners do not get the services and conveniences they need to be successful in today’s higher education landscape. These adult learners have multiple roles; they manage responsibilities like family and full-time positions.

Institutions that offer flexibility to accommodate active lifestyles ultimately attract a majority of adult students. Know the resources these students need in order to manage school with work and family responsibilities. Well-informed guidance counselors and qualified academic staff should create a supportive learning environment conductive to what these students are seeking.

5. Advertise the success of your students
One item that sets adult learners apart from traditional students is that the majority of them have a clear end goal in mind. They are looking to start on a new path or are seeking a career change, and your marketing should tailor to your potential student’s motivations.

Advertise and display your school’s student outcomes through social media, websites, testimonials, etc. Provide detailed data in your admissions material and on your website, focusing on important aspects such as graduation rates and employment data, to give students confidence in choosing your institution.

The differentiating quality that will set institutions apart for adult learners is offering a system that highlights flexibility to accommodate their busy lives. As colleges and universities strive to appeal to this growing population, they will need to be aware of changing trends in the needs, wants and goals of adult students. Institutions need to look at how to stay up-to-date with effective practices that ensure these students have an education opportunity that offers the best chance at professional success. 

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