6 key questions about nontraditional college students

Should you be worried about competition from the gig economy?
By: | December 20, 2019
Adult learners return to college with different goals in mind, often depending on the state of the economy.Adult learners return to college with different goals in mind, often depending on the state of the economy.

Most higher leaders know that older, nontraditional learners now comprise a substantial and growing part of the college student population.

But what are the best strategies to convince them to enroll in your college or university?

Adult students with jobs and families want to finish as soon as possible and do their work on their own time, according to Margaret Dees—senior vice president of enrollment management and communications at Jacksonville University in Florida—who spoke to University Business for an article in 2017. 


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“We start with the fundamental premise that we don’t treat adult learners as monolithic,” Dees said. “They come from a variety of different places in their lives.”

Also, make sure tuition information is easy-to-find on your website and, put some photos of adults learners on your homepage so they can better envision themselves studying on your campus.

That’s not all there is it to it, of course. With help from higher ed marketing firm LaneTerralever, here’s a quick quiz on nontraditional learners.

No matter how well you score, it should give you some more tips on capturing the attention of older students.

The lowdown on adult learners

1. Which of the following personas is not one identified by LaneTerralever as the most common type of nontraditional student?

  1. Military-affiliated
  2. Job-ladder climber
  3. Career switcher
  4. Person with unfinished business
  5. Lecture fanatic

2. What type of economy drives adult-learners to return to college? 

  1. Good economy
  2. Bad economy
  3. False economy
  4. A and B
  5. None of the above

3. Which of the following did LaneTerralever identify as a significant competitor to higher education for adults looking to boost their income? 

  1. Launching a massively successful YouTube channel
  2. Winning the lottery
  3. Winning “America’s Got Talent”
  4. The gig economy
  5. Flipping condos

4. What is/are the biggest barrier(s) for adult learners who want to return to college? 

  1. Finding a subject they’re interested in studying
  2. Finding the campus
  3. Finding the right school
  4. Finding themselves
  5. Cost and time

5. What types of degrees are a majority of adults seeking when they return to college? 

  1. A degree of uncertainty
  2. Professional certificates and masters degrees
  3. Bachelor’s degree
  4. Ph.D.
  5. The perfect attendance award

6. What kinds of skills are many adult learners, particular Baby Boomers, looking to improve? 

  1. Digital technology
  2. Digital technology
  3. Digital technology
  4. Digital technology
  5. All of the above

For more information, particularly on marketing your institution and its programs to nontraditional students, check out LaneTerralever’s full report, “Marketing Higher Education to Today’s Non-Traditional Students.”

And, here are the answers to the quiz: 1. e, 2. d, 3. d, 4. e, 5. b, 6. e


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